KAZ Trophy from Rafael was tested in battle on the Israeli tanks Merkava
Although complexes (systems) of active protection are possible today are not a fully mature solution, but they are one of the ways to ensure the safety of personnel in combat operations. We will review the latest technological advances in this market and products that are currently defining trends.
The active defense complexes (KAZ) are designed to protect armored vehicles from anti-tank guided munitions and short-range missiles by destroying the projectile before it hits the vehicle.
Given all the requirements, it is incredibly difficult to develop a completely perfect KAZ. Sensors must determine the launch, assess whether the ammunition hits the vehicle, classify it and launch the interceptor in a very short period of time, often less than a second. However, KAZ is a better protection compared to passive systems, for example, false targets, or even simple addition of armor to a car.
Attempts to develop a KAZ have been going on for quite a long time. In earlier works, the Russian system Drozd and the German AWiSS system from Diehl used defensive charges with ready-made attack elements to neutralize the attacking threats. The Israeli company Rafael, however, has developed an alternative - a family of systems that fire at the target with projectile charges in a narrow sector.
According to the representative of the company Rafael, the Trophy system is the only technologically mature KAZ, which was installed on the Merkava Mk 4 tanks and was used in the operations of the Israeli army.
Over the past few years there have been attempts to develop other systems, but they never went into the series. In 2005, KAZ Close-in Countermeasures from BAE reached the level of technological readiness of 6 (experimental sample) and neutralized the grenade from the RPG-7, but it was not manufactured from 2009 of the year. Also did not go into production complex AWiSS from Diehl. Saab tested its Land Electronic Defense System’s ground-based electronic defense system on a Mowag machine in 2007. Later it was installed on the Piranha 8x8, but today there is no information about its use.
In France, the companies TDA and Thales developed KAZ SHARK, and although it reached the level of technological readiness of 8 in 2008 (tests of prototypes) and there were plans to integrate this system into the armored personnel carrier VAB 4x4 and other large vehicles, but again at the moment there is no no information. Despite the cooperation with South Korea, the Arena complex, developed by the Russian company KBM, is still in development.
Airbus Defense and Space received a contract for its Multi-functional Self-Protection System (MUSS) for its installation on the new Puma BMPs of the German army, but it does not yet have an active component (only false targets), although there are plans to developing it.
The Tactical RPG Airbag Protection System from the American company Textron, which uses air bags to neutralize the flying grenades, was funded and tested in 2005-2009 years; but since then all activity has actually been curtailed and its production has not begun. A representative of General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems regarding KAZ ShotScreen said that "at present we are not working on it due to the lack of need on the part of the American army."
In the KAZ Trophy from Rafael, so-called "energy blades" are used to protect against attacking ammunition.
However, Rafael believes that despite the lack of interest, the need for a KAZ will increase due to the spread of more advanced anti-tank guided munitions, RPGs and other armor-piercing missiles. In addition, in the future, the threat will come from tandem warheads, as well as unitary combat units like the RPG-7.
“You can buy RPG-7 for 80 dollars somewhere on the outskirts of Pakistan, everyone is well aware of these places,” a company spokesman said. - If you look at what is happening in Africa, then you will see tandem combat units, recoilless rifles there. Unitary warheads are still widely used there as well. ”
He noted that the proliferation of such weapons is increasing to dangerous levels and that during the French military operation Serval in Mali and in the UN mission of MINUSMA, the troops encountered Sagem missiles.
“It's like drugs. Nobody knows how Cornet rockets get from Libya to Syria, or Chinese HJ-8 rockets get to Syria, all of this is transported by sophisticated smuggling methods. Surprisingly, these guys gain experience, and they use it not just against the troops of Assad, but also any other guys that they don’t like. ”
According to the representative of the company Rafael, KAZ Trophy is intended rather for the following conflicts, and not for participation in the last war. This means creating ways to combat “complex threats”, for example, tandem warheads, rather than unitary combat units, on which other companies are still focused.
The Trophy Heavy Vehicle (HV) system developed for the Israeli army uses a countermeasure that can destroy the attacking ammunition without undermining it.
"We are talking about very small non-aerodynamic components in very limited quantities, which are released in a very focused form in the direction of a particular point in the warhead in order to destroy the threat without initiating it," the official said.
Since no explosives are used in the system, it becomes safer at close range. The machine itself is not subject to shock and damage, in addition, indirect damage to dismounted infantry and civilians is minimal. It is particularly suitable for fighting in urban space.
KAZ Trophy has already been installed and deployed as part of an entire brigade of the Israeli army and the army continues to purchase this system. At the moment during the fighting there were several cases when the complex saved the lives of soldiers. Rafael does not want to stand still, as an obvious market leader she wants to develop the system further.
“We need to transfer KAZ to the next level right now, everyone is talking about interesting video shots of explosions and whether KAZ can hit something,” said the representative, adding that it was just a basic level that other companies are trying to achieve in non-combat space. “What we are doing now is linking the Trophy with a battle management system (CICS). This allows you to make a big step forward. ”
On the battlefield in armored vehicles, the crews often do not see the threat posed by enemy anti-tank groups. Therefore, if the KAZ Trophy automatically connects to the CICS, it can locate the shooter.
"The factor that drastically changes the rules of the game is that if the entire military formation is tied into a network, then all the machines can see each other and in the event of an attack on one machine by the anti-tank group, the whole unit can see the exact location of the shooter and aim immediately, turn the weapon and neutralize the shooter, ”he said.
Changing the defensive concept of KAZ to offensive will improve the defense, because if all the anti-tank groups know that they can be destroyed by return fire within a few seconds, they will be much more restrained.
General Dynamics Land Systems (GDLS) in 2012 opened an international competition to test the performance of KAZ on their vehicles and selected LAV-III for testing. This platform was chosen due to the fact that the integration of KAZ is very difficult here because of potential interference with the 25-mm gun.
The process for selecting a contractor for a tender developed by GDLS was identical to the process used by the US government to speed up the development process if a decision is made to start a formal program. In 2012, this process, led by GDLS, took six months and, ultimately, in August, Rafael was selected to integrate the KAZ Trophy into the LAV-III car.
“The whole integration of mechanics, the development was carried out by GDLS - Canada, it took less than six months,” said a spokesman for Rafael. “In less than six months, we prepared for the full testing program on the new platform. Comprehensive system tests were conducted in the summer and fall of 2013, and in October 2013, we successfully completed this program.
“Under this program, GDLS showed its customers that KAZ, integrated on its platform, can be connected to the CICS. It was a new CUIS and Rafael knew nothing about her; and reintegration was successful in less than six months.
“So, the possibility of connection with the CICS was demonstrated, then the defeat of unitary warheads at short range, tandem threats, ATGM was demonstrated. Scenarios were shown in motion, scenarios of multiple attacks, successive attacks (several on one side) from different angles. The tests were carried out not only to show the "spectacular" pictures of the explosions, but also to check other elements - indirect damage, safety, residual penetration, impact, and so on. "
The roof-mounted KAZ Trophy LV from Rafael uses radar to detect targets.
The Rafael Trophy LV option provides lightweight vehicle protection
In addition to integration with the CICS, the next step for KAZ was the development of solutions for light tactical vehicles and armored personnel carriers. Lighter vehicles are generally not subject to the same threats as heavy armored vehicles, such as MBT and BMP, are exposed. Consequently, a KAZ “younger brother” can be established in terms of mass, cost, and performance.
As a result of this experience, Rafael developed the KAZ Trophy HV version for light vehicles, designated Trophy Light Tactical Vehicles (LV).
“We immediately set a goal - to develop a system that should protect against relevant threats - the entire RPG family. This is not only unitary warheads, the main goal is the fight against tandem warheads. The system should be relevant for urban melee scenarios and low intensity conflicts. It should be easy to integrate into various platforms, and of course inexpensive. ”
Rafael refined this technology and in December 2013 of the year completed a set of tests of a single system installed on the trunk on the roof of a car. The system shoots down the so-called "energy blade", affecting the ammunition flying up.
“The energy blade is a kind of material produced at high speed due to the minimum amount of explosive that allows you to cut the threat without initiating it,” the company representative continued.
A total of seven companies participated in tests conducted by the Ministry of Defense in 2011, and Rafael was one of them. However, the report to the Congress states that the KAZ technology is not yet mature enough from a technological point of view, despite all the features demonstrated by Trophy.
One of the claimants to these tests was Artis with its Iron Curtain system. A company representative said that the developer showed himself very well in these tests and was selected to be installed on a tactical vehicle. “Again, based on convincing test results, Artis with its KAZ was chosen by BAE for installation on the new Ground Combat Vehicle [GCV].”
Like the Trophy LV system, the KAZ Iron Curtain is mounted on the roof. It uses radar to detect threats and optical sensors that classify and select the target meeting point. Then attacking elements are shot from the container in order to neutralize the attacking threat.
Artis, together with DARPA, is also continuing to develop its Iron Curtain complex so that it can be installed on any machine. A company representative also said that during the field tests in 2012 and 2013, the complex was installed on the body of the machine, but did not voice the results of these tests. The Iron Curtain was also proposed as a KAZ for the T-90 tanks of the Indian Army.
The Iron curtain complex from Artis incorporates optical sensors that classify and select a target point, and containers containing attack elements that are manufactured to destroy the flying ammunition.
Another American program that is gaining momentum, and may well reach production, is conducted by the TARDEC Armored Research Center, which has specifically created in its structure a department for modular KAZ.
Raytheon worked in its time on the KAZ QuickKill for the promising GCV, but since the topic was canceled at the beginning of 2014, it has been transformed into a technology program under the direction of TARDEC.
The system consists of a radar detection and tracking system, a fire control system for assessing, tracking and decision-making, and direct defeat measures. QuickKill is based on a multifunctional radar with an active electron-scanning antenna array, which has already reached the level of factory tests and which was originally developed for a missile and mortar attack warning system on advanced bases. The countermeasure component is a vertical launch system.
According to Raytheon, the company is working with the US Army to meet the requirements for an active protection complex, “in the current budgetary framework.” A company representative spoke about recent changes in KAZ requirements. “The need to improve survivability and mobility while increasing flexibility regarding vehicle type and operational tasks led us to change the development model. The integrated solution has given way to a system consisting of modular components that allow for centralized situational awareness and obtain various options for protecting the vehicle. ”