Military Review

Modern protection for combat vehicles (part 2)

After learning the lessons of combat use of equipment, whether it is wheeled or tracked, equipped with the protection of the modern level, is in great demand. In particular, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan showed that critical situations could often be resolved only with the use of heavy combat vehicles.

Since the terrorist threat can come from any direction, the machines must have a strong circular defense.

Below are examples that reflect in general terms how modern concepts of protecting military vehicles were implemented during military operations in urban areas.

Passive protection

Passive underrun protection is the basic design in any machine protection concept. Due to the variety of threats, the requirement of protection against repeated exposure, procurement costs, the possibility of combining with other types, low secondary effects, as well as the possibility of increasing the level of protection during operation, this type will remain fundamental when choosing a concept. The protection designer should be allowed to contribute to the vehicle concept, starting from the start of the armored vehicle development process in order to meet the weight and internal volume requirements while ensuring low cost and user-friendly logistics system (refueling, recharging, maintenance and repair work in the field).

A successful example is the IVECO LMV (multipurpose light machine), of which more than 2500 units were produced in just two years of mass production, and which is currently operating in nine countries around the world as a four-wheel drive commander and multipurpose machine. As a security developer, IBD Deisenroth Engineering has been involved in LMV design from the very beginning. As a result, and in addition to reducing the weight of the machine, the elements of the ceramic composite protection embedded in the tubular frame affect the overall rigidity of the structure. The ability of the defense to withstand multiple ballistic defeats, especially in articulations and technical weak points, was tested with various types of threats. In combination with the adaptable mine protection in accordance with STANAG 4569, the integrated armor system has also proven to be very effective against large anti-tank mines detonating under the wheels, as well as under the bottom, without tipping the car. In connection with the complex modular concept of passive protection, which also provides a significant reduction in the signature, the armored vehicle does not visually differ from an unprotected vehicle.

Renault VAB armored vehicles, of which more than 2200 units have already been delivered, and which have certainly proven themselves well during the use of the French armed forces, are another example of a modern flexible protection system for wheeled vehicles. In this context, FUCHS (6x6) and BOXER (8x8) of the German armed forces, as well as the M1117 GUARDIAN US Army, which can be found in all military operations, and which are considered one of the safest vehicles, can also be mentioned.

An armored solution that can be packed in transport containers carried by helicopter and which provides protection against ballistic threats and mines has been developed for the cabs of drivers of transport and engineering vehicles. If necessary, armor segments can be measured by soldiers without special tools, without the involvement of third-party contractors. The ability to dismantle additional armor elements from the cab reduces the cost of operation and transportation, providing, if necessary, high mobility.

After the first disappointment with the deployment of light vehicles in crisis areas, the view is that heavy Tanks necessary at all stages of operations prevailed in many Armed Forces. This is due to their high level of protection, weapons and the ability to use as a battering ram.

After heavy casualties in Afghanistan, the Canadian Forces at the beginning of 2002 recalled the few remaining LEOPARD 1 C2 tanks they had developed, developed by IBD in 1995 / 96, and have not been used anywhere else because of their weight. It soon turned out that it was the only defense effective against both RPG-7 and improvised explosive devices. In a short time, these tanks were deployed in Afghanistan. Their deployment was successful.

Based on this concept, IBD developed the LEOPARD 2 A4 tank ballistic security kit, which is also effective against RPG-27, and RPG-30, and from heavy mines, as well as against attacks to the upper hemisphere by all means known to date used by currently in urban operations, including cumulative grenades (GSC-3).

The EVOLUTION tank, which weighs less than 62 tons, quickly found a customer. An impressive silhouette, high mobility, relatively low weight for such a high level of protection and the concept of logistics provided the advantages of this model compared to other well-known solutions that demonstrate a significantly higher combat weight.

At present, homogeneous passive armor will continue to be the only solution that is universal against all types of threats. Among these threats are, in particular, belts with explosives and mines hidden in vehicles, so-called car-bombs. Another protective measure at the moment can only be invoice armor. Thus, the trade-off between mobility and weight will continue to remain on the agenda when considering the development of the concept of protection.

Lattice or plate armor should also be mentioned in the context of the concept of passive protection. In the US, it was specially designed and adapted to protect against attacks on the wheeled and tracked vehicles deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq. The effectiveness of these shielding elements, which also reduce the mobility of the machine, can only be determined statistically, since it largely depends on the point of hit of the projectile in the armor. Further, depending on the type of armor bars, the level of protection increases by 50 - 75%. For example, the circular plate armor is installed on the American war machine STRYKER 8x8. This type of armor can only be considered as a temporary solution for passive protection and, moreover, only against the RPG-7 family.

Additional protection system SidePRO-RPG, produced by the Swiss company RUAG Land System, is designed to protect maintenance vehicles and infantry fighting vehicles from RPG-7. Protection modules can be installed directly on the machine or on top of the existing invoice armor. Easy installation of modules, light weight and profiled design are key features that provide increased protection without compromising vehicle mobility. The goal of this development was to provide a higher degree of protection while maintaining ease of use without increasing the weight of the vehicle. Just like the SidePRO-LASSO, it is a passive system, it neutralizes the effects of shaped charges of various types of RPG-7. SidePRO-RPG works as follows. The cumulative charge pierces the first of the three protective layers, and then is neutralized by the second layer, on which the projectile is burnt without explosion using a short circuit. The last layer of protection distributes the pressure that occurs when it hits and reduces the impact force on the armor. SidePRO-LASSO (Light Armor System against Shaped Ordnance - Lightweight booking system against cumulative ammunition) of RUAG Land System is an adaptive and highly effective protection system against a wide range of RPG-7 anti-tank grenade launchers and their derivatives. Thanks to the simple and reasonable design, SidePRO-LASSO is lightweight and reliable. She was tested and verified during dynamic shooting tests. In September 2008, the Danish army entered into a contract with RUAG to install protection on their M-113 armored personnel carriers, deployed in Afghanistan, to defend SidePRO-LASSO.

Reactive Defense

The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) began to equip light and heavy combat vehicles with reactive armor in the middle of 1980's due to heavy tank losses in the Doomsday War. Dynamic armor boxes are mounted on the machine, providing a high level of protection against single cumulative warheads. A cumulative projectile, exploding at an element with a multilayer structure of steel and explosive sheets, acts with it, creating a large number of fragments. Before replacing the activated element, the window protected by it remains open for destruction. Due to the large impact on the nearby infantry, as well as light vehicles or nearby civilians, the Western armed forces did not use jet armor for a long time, although the Soviet Army began to equip their tanks with dynamic defenses from 1983. At the same time, NATO did not have an effective system to combat Soviet missiles. Only a high level of casualties for the American and British armies in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan led to a partial modernization of military vehicles with the installation of reactive invoice armor.

Even if the German reactive armor technology CLARA can reduce the damage from the fragments during the operation, the problem with the inability to protect against multiple hits remains. Another disadvantage of this type of protection is the ability to trigger neighboring cells, which can lead to the full operation of protection and failure of equipment. Due to the lack of multiple triggering capabilities, CLARA also cannot counter threats like the RPG-30, which causes reactive armor using small-caliber bait, and then penetrates passive armor with a main warhead. Thus, reactive armor can not currently be considered as a modern protection technology.

Active protection

Research in the field of sensors for active protection systems in the West began almost at the same time as in the Soviet Union. Active protection systems - also only as additional protection - are triggered before the threat begins to directly affect the machine. This eliminates shock, noise, mechanical effects on equipment and sensitive equipment. This increases not only the vitality, but also the stability of the work.

Active protection systems that work within a few seconds, such as the soft-kill MUSS system, are not used in combat, as they are currently being evaluated by NATO and the EU. Systems that operate within milliseconds are suitable for threats moving at speeds up to 350 m / s. Only systems that can work in microseconds can hit projectiles moving at speeds above 1800 m / s.

While Russian systems such as the 2 and the ARENA DROZD were integrated into Russian tanks many years ago, the mass production of the Israeli system developed by Rafael, TROPHY for heavy combat vehicles, is just beginning. All other active protection systems will be able to be ready for mass production within one to three years. So far, they are undergoing tests of a prototype.

The response rate of more than 20 currently known systems is at 200-400ms. Consequently, the distances at which the shells are affected, depending on the speed of their approach, lie within the sphere from 30 to 200 meters with a radius. These active protection complexes are ineffective when used in urban environments against RPG-7 (launched from distances less than 30 m), since they do not have enough time to react. The possibility that the sensors will be detected by enemy intelligence systems is very high due to integrated active radar systems. After the threat is detected, it confronts a mechanical directional explosion or fragmentation grenades intercepting at a distance of 10-30m. The average collateral damage from the explosion of grenades and the high damage from fragmentation grenades must also be taken into account. In addition, actuation can significantly affect tactical mobility due to damage caused to wheels or tracks. A decrease in mobility makes the car an easy target, that is, reduces the level of security.

In Germany, the LEOPARD 2 A4 was used as a chassis to test the AWiSS system; in Israel, the systems TROPHY and Iron Fist were tested on the MERKAVA tank. Israel also experimented with installing the Iron Fist system on a wheeled armored vehicle WILDCAT.

Currently, there is only one active protection system that operates in the microsecond range and which, like mounted armor, can withstand all threats known today. The active protection system AMAP-ADS, developed by IBD Deisenroth Engineering, can be integrated into both light and heavy armored vehicles due to its relatively low weight (for light vehicles - around 150 kg, for heavy vehicles - around 500 kg). Several, intensive tests in the country and abroad, and the results obtained so far, give hope that the system will be ready for mass production at the end of 2010 of the year.

AMAP-ADS consists of a two-stage sensor system in which a warning sensor scans its specific sector for the presence of any approaching objects up to about 10 m and, if detected, transmits data to a second sensor. The sensor system, which is responsible for countering the threat, monitors, measures and determines the type of projectile. All data is transmitted to a central computer using a highly robust system data bus. The central computer activates a countermeasure system, which discharges a directional charge with high density towards the zone covering the interaction point. The required electrical energy is so small that it does not overload the power circuits of the machine. This completely destroys the shape of shaped charges and partially destroys other threats, such as kinetic armor-piercing projectiles, projectiles with an impact core, and also rejects debris. The remaining damaging factors are absorbed by the main armor. AMAP-ADS requires 560 microseconds (i.e., only 0,56 ms) for the entire protection procedure, ranging from identifying and completely eliminating the threat. The configuration of countermeasures depends on the machine that is to be protected, as well as the requirements of the user or buyer, and can be expanded up to protection in the whole hemisphere. Separate operating sensors and power modules used in a combat vehicle often overlap, thereby providing greater opportunities for multiple tripping and, therefore, increased safety. Due to the lack of fragments produced by the AMAP-ADS system itself while dealing with the threat, collateral damage will only occur from the destroyed projectile, the energy of which, however, is directed at the machine and will cause only minor damage from the bounce.

Today, signals of attacks on vehicles are immediately transmitted by radio, and neither the type of threat, nor the sector, of which the threat was launched, cannot be immediately identified. In the case of an active protection system, the on-board computer generates and records a protocol that can be analyzed. Further, the system can transmit the time, type of ammunition, launch sector and location of the vehicle (in the case of GPS equipment). Information can be transmitted without delay to other machines, means of destruction or an operational center via a web interface. This allows you to immediately hit the zone that represents the danger and start the pursuit.

Such systems were tested for compatibility as well as functionality and customizability for various types of threats on IVECO LMV machines (in Germany they are called CARACAL), MARDER BMPs (both statically and dynamically), BTR FUCHS 6X6 APC, LEOPARD 1 and 2 tanks, BTR M-113, French VAB, and others.


In the long run, passive armor, as a basic type of defense against all types of threats, will continue to be indispensable. Its working weight will be reduced through the use of advanced materials and reasonable location and distribution. In this case, the possibility of replacing armor modules or armored parts, installation of additional protection should be provided at the design stage of the machine.

Belts of shahids, mines and explosive charges are difficult to detect and quickly eliminate in urban operations.

The main focus should be on reducing the signature of the machines, as the quality of enemy reconnaissance will be constantly improved.

Reactive and active protection systems will continue to be additional funds. Dynamic protection systems still have limited capacity, as they are effective only against certain threats. In the future, active protection systems will develop intensively, as they have great potential. The development and operation of these new protection measures is now only at an early stage. Since distances in urban operations are within 5-50, only systems with minimal response time and special capabilities can protect the machine in such conditions.

Collateral damage that occurs during countering a threat must be repaired so as not to endanger friendly forces or to give the enemy a reason to propagate in the event of the death of civilians.

The radius of protection must be sufficiently large, since neither the type of threat nor its direction can be assessed and determined in the event of a simultaneous surprise attack from different sides. Thus, the sensors and actuators should be located around the perimeter of the combat vehicle, and should also be able to work with overlapping and autonomously.

Protection systems that are not able to withstand multiple attacks are ineffective in urban environments, as they do not provide protection against the most advanced systems. weaponssuch as RPG-30. If the armor is ineffective, the soldier will lose confidence in her after the first attack and will be demoralized. This reduces sustainability. It must be the other way around - the aggressor must be surprised and demoralized by the effectiveness of the fight against his attack.

The effectiveness of remedies can be improved if trusting cooperation between the general contractor and the developer, as a rule, a representative of a small or medium business, is established at an early stage.

Despite all the ingenuity and unification of efforts, there will never be perfect protection, since the projectile and armor are constantly being improved in the process of opposition. Good training can make a significant contribution to achieving optimal protection.
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