Armor protection

Discussion in 'Military' started by CSM, Mar 14, 2005.

  1. CSM
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    Israel armour protection system 'revolutionary'
    Jane’s Defence Weekly
    March 16, 2005
    Robin Hughes, JDW Middle East Editor Tel Aviv

    The Israel Defence Force (IDF) Ground Forces Command and the Israeli Ministry of Defence (MoD) have unveiled what they describe as "the most advanced armour protection system in the world".

    Officially unveiled on 8 March at the 2nd international conference/ exhibition on Low Intensity Conflict (LIC) in Tel Aviv, held from 7-10 March, the Trophy Active Protection System (APS) is the result of a 10-year collaborative development programme between Rafael Armament Development Authority and Israel Aircraft Industries/Elta, led by the Directorate of Research and Development in the MoD and funded by the MoD. Rafael is prime contractor for the programme.

    The Trophy system can detect, classify, track and destroy all types of advanced anti-armour threats, including anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs) and rockets at "a significant distance" away from a targeted platform - in some cases destroying the threat without detonation, which means no residual effect on the platform, Didi Ben-Yoash, Rafael's APS business development manager, told JDW. The distance at which Trophy can engage the threats is classified, he added.

    "Trophy is nothing less than a revolution in armour protection," Ben-Yoash said.

    "This is the smart solution to future armour protection: a system that will mitigate the problems of weight associated with armouring a platform to cope with increasingly sophisticated anti-armour threats."

    The future battleground demands a fast manoeuvring, flexible and lethal platform with high survivability, Yedidia Yaari, Rafael chief executive officer and president, told JDW.

    "Trophy derivatives will be the first step toward the development for that platform," he said. "Rafael has strived to maintain its close relationship with the IDF by placing particular emphasis on blending and balancing research and development with the requirements of the IDF. The Trophy APS is a specific outcome of this unique relationship."

    The Trophy system comprises two components: an Elta radar linked to four antennas located at the front, rear and sides of the platform providing 360º protection (as well as protecting against most advanced top attack ATGMs at a very high elevation) and two Rafael-developed 'hard kill' mechanisms located either side of the platform.

    The Trophy radar searches and detects a threat/simultaneous threats and begins tracking only if it calculates that a missile will hit the vehicle. In the latter case, a 'hard kill' countermeasure is activated to neutralise the threat "at a safe distance from the platform", Ben-Yoash said.

    A key requirement of the 'kill mechanism', he noted, is that it causes minimum collateral damage.

    "The provision was that the maximum percentage injury to a dismounted infantryman deployed near a Trophy-protected platform would be less than 1 per cent. The system will not only protect the platform, but [personnel and assets] in the area around the vehicle," Ben-Yoash said.

    While the 'hard kill' mechanism is classified, sources outside the programme told JDW that it works on an explosive formatted penetrator principle.

    Much of the conceptual innovation for the system came from the Israeli MoD, Ben-Yoash said.

    For the past few years the Merkava Tank Directorate has been leading the full-scale engineering of the system and its integration with the IDF's Merkava Mk 4 main battle tank (MBT) programme to incorporate it in the tank production line.

    "Merkava Mk 4 represents the high end of armour technology in the world today, but facing the modern anti-tank threat, even this technology is pushing the limits," Yaari said.

    Currently in an advanced development stage, the first operational prototypes for the IDF will be ready by the end of the year.

    The Trophy system will be adapted to the Merkava Mk 4's battle-management system, enabling it to quickly engage located threat launch positions with directed counter-fire or transfer the information to other friendly force capabilities.

    On display at the exhibition, a Merkava Mk 3 MBT was used for the Trophy system's on-the-move and operational evaluation programme. The Mk 3 features the system in add-on configuration. However, Ben-Yoash said that for the Mk 4 the Trophy system will be integrated as part of its overall protection suite.

    The system can also be fitted to a range of light, medium and heavier-armoured platforms. "Trophy can equip light vehicles without adding additional armour," Ben-Yoash said. "We are talking about a complete system of less than 1,000 lb [454 kg] in weight."

    Chief of the IDF Ground Forces Major General Yiftach Ron Tal told JDW: "The immediate plan for Trophy is to equip the Merkava Mk 4. However, in the future it will be suitable for lighter vehicles like the Stryker [8 x 8 medium armoured vehicle]."

    The system has been trialled, in add-on configuration, on one of three Strykers acquired by Israel for operational evaluation.

    "Trophy can be integrated with the Stryker's battle-management system," Ben-Yoash said.

    Rafael has teamed with General Dynamics Land Systems (GDLS) to market Trophy in the US.

    "The US Army is currently looking for a lightweight system for its Strykers," Rafael Corporate Vice President Marketing and Business Development Eitan Yudilevich told JDW.

    "Stryker will spiral into the army's Future Combat Systems (FCS) programme and Trophy could meet the lightweight armour requirement as the solution for that programme. Under the teaming agreement, production for the US programme will be shared between Rafael and GDLS, although GDLS will be the prime for a Stryker or FCS tender," Yudilevich added.

    A similar APS solution - called the Integrated Army Active Protection System - has been under development in the US.

    United Defence Land Platforms and BAE Systems of the UK are developing the sensor systems, teaming with TRW (now Northrop Grumman) for the hard kill solution
     
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    and this:

    Pentagon Studies Spray-On Armor for Humvees, Ships, Structures
    Inside the Pentagon
    March 10, 2005
    Sebastian Sprenger

    The Defense Department is examining the military usefulness of a spray-on technology used to protect pickup truck beds from dents.

    The Joint Enhanced Explosion Resistant Coating Exploitation effort -- the Pentagon’s official name for the initiative -- is one of 15 technologies DOD has deemed worthy of further study as an advanced concept technology demonstration in fiscal year 2005.

    The foam-like coating is designed to offer some protection against shrapnel and blast fragments, Curt Shaffer, a contractor in the office of the deputy under secretary of defense for advanced systems and concepts, told Inside the Pentagon in a March 4 interview. Shaffer helps DOD manage a number of this year’s ACTDs, including the JEERCE demo.

    If applied properly, “it dissipates the energy when something hits it. It sends the energy in a different direction,” Shaffer said. The results so far, he noted, are “absolutely remarkable.”

    However, “It’s not a panacea,” he said. “It’s not going to stop all bullets, it’s not going stop all [improvised explosive devices], it’s not going to do that. But it will give you an additional level of protection that you don’t normally have.”

    The coating is essentially a polymer with elements of ceramic, Shaffer explained. He would not comment further on the material’s composition because the research is partly classified. “The structure of Styrofoam comes to mind. But it’s certainly a whole lot more sophisticated than that,” he said.

    The technology originated from commercial applications, Shaffer said, where it is used to protect truck beds “from dents and dings.” “I think the brand name was ‘Rhino Liner,’” he added.

    The foam can be sprayed onto a wide variety of surfaces using an aerosol device, Shaffer noted. Alternatively, it can be painted onto a surface, or poured into forms and molded. The formulation and thickness of the foam can be varied “depending on the type of threat you expect to encounter,” he added.

    Pentagon officials are looking at whether ships, humvees and Air Force and Army structures could be applications for the coating.

    While still in its experimental stage, the coating has been used by the Marines Corps on several hundred humvees in Iraq and Afghanistan, Shaffer said. The fielding of these test vehicles last summer came at a time when the Defense Department was struggling to provide enough armored vehicles to troops in Iraq, he said.

    “We’re still trying to collect the data from that to see how well [they] performed,” he said.

    Asked whether the coating could be applied to aircraft, he said, “It’s possible. But I can tell you as a former pilot [that] there are a lot of aerodynamic . . . And weight concerns. So I’d be surprised to see it in high-performance aircraft.” Helicopters, he added, could be better suited to the material. The foam could replace protective sheets that troops often hang on the inside of helicopters to protect against small-arms fire, he said.

    Traditional armor and explosive resistant coating are not mutually exclusive. “It’s not armor plating or explosive resistant coating; it may be a combination,” he said. Both have drawbacks. “There are weight penalties, especially with the rolled-homogenous steel” of traditional armor, and while “there aren’t as many with explosive-resistant coating,” he said, “you can scrape it off, [and] it wears off under certain conditions.”

    Testing under way today is aimed partly at answering environmental questions. “We have to think about flame-retardant capabilities because if you’re actually going to put this on the inside of the hull of a ship, you always have to worry about . . . Flammability, toxicity, that type of thing. So there are those types of tests that are ongoing and the formula will be hopefully optimized to mitigate all those questions.”

    Another question that needs further study, Shaffer said, is the material’s heat retention capabilities. “It could act as an insulator. And if you’re out in a 140-degree desert condition, like they are out in Iraq, that’s not exactly what you want in your vehicle.”

    The Office of Naval Research has been experimenting with explosion-resistant coatings for years, but interest in the work increased after the attack on the destroyer Cole in 2000. In January 2004, the research was formulated into an ACTD proposal, which received the Pentagon’s go-ahead late last year. ONR continues to lead the technical part of the research.

    The JEERCE ACTD is slated to last three years, after which it will undergo a “military utility assessment” to examine its fitness for fielding, Shaffer said.

    “But if we hit some very promising early test results, and we think we can make a difference, we have the right people involved to accelerate it and get it into the field,” he added.
     

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