The war in Ukraine has highlighted the importance of well protected armoured vehicles. The increased use of artillery weapons and precision rocket systems along with strikes against targets of opportunity using drones, caused widespread casualties among infantry soldiers caught out in the open. Such losses are again bringing into focus the importance of armoured personnel carriers (APC) and infantry fighting vehicles (IFV) on the battlefield.
Since the creation of the main battle tank during World War I, there has been a constant arms race between the development of anti-armor weapons and vehicle protection systems, however “Weapons’ ability to penetrate armor, however, has advanced faster than armor’s ability to withstand penetration”. These weapons include modern anti-tank weapons like the Russian Kornet and Chinese HJ-8 guided missiles, as well as Russia’s tandem warhead RPG-29 rocket propelled grenade that can bore a hole into a tank with a molten jet of metal. These weapons are readily available, inexpensive, and easy to use, which has led to proliferation in combat zones in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Lebanon, Gaza, and throughout Africa and Asia. As such, they pose serious threats to armored vehicles.
“As threats became more lethal over the years, the answer was to add more and more armor, especially steel armor, to prevent penetration of the vehicle,” said Mike O’Leary, senior director of business development at DRS Land Systems. “We’re now at a tipping point where combat vehicles simply can’t get any heavier or they’ll be unable to maneuver, traverse bridges, or be transported. As we saw in Afghanistan and Iraq, the weight of some of these vehicles caused roads to give way leading to rollovers.
One of the technology militaries are racing to adopt is Active Protection Systems, or APS, to enhance the survivability which augment passive armor by destroying RPGs and missiles in flight before they strike their target. APS typically comes in two flavors, hard kill and soft kill. A hard-kill active protection system detects, engages, and destroys or neutralizes an incoming threat before it can hit a protected vehicle, actively firing some type of projectile to intercept the threat. It uses sensors and radar, computer processing, fire control technology and interceptors to find, target and knock down or intercept incoming enemy fire such as RPGs and Anti-Tank Guided Missiles, or ATGMs.
There’s also a second method for hard kill that competing systems employ. In this case a detector identifies the threat and then launches a proximity fused mortar round at the target. The mortar blast defeats the threat with either an explosion or a blast pressure/blast wave that knocks the threat off course.
Soft kill APS defeats the threat without kinetics. Countermeasures include infrared jammers, laser spot imitators, and radar jammers. They may prevent missile guidance from remaining locked onto the vehicle, causing the missile to miss the vehicle target or prevent it from fusing.
“With APS you don’t necessarily have to add more armor plate to an existing vehicle, and when developing a new vehicle you can reduce the amount of armor required depending on the threat. That gives you a lighter, more mobile and nimble vehicle because you’ve offloaded some passive armor in exchange for an active system.”
An advanced Active Protection System (APS) is critical to achieving operational advantage over our adversaries and is key in enabling the survivability of the Army’s fleet of vehicles. Brigadier Mike Fayers, Head of Military Capability Plans – Army Futures, said: “The threats facing land capabilities continue to evolve, proliferate and diversify in their nature as we have seen most recently in the Ukraine.
World’s top Active protection systems
Israel was the first to experience the increased lethality of modern anti-armor weapons during the 2006 Israel-Lebanon War where its armored formations were basically brought to a standstill by just a few anti-tank guided missile teams hidden in the rocks in the Lebanese Bekaa Valley. The country faced advanced anti-armor weapons again during the 2014 Gaza conflict. In response, Leonardo DRS’ partner Rafael Advanced Defense Systems of Israel developed a system called Trophy that is arguably the most battle tested APS in the world with more than 1,500 systems installed on the Merkava MK4 main battle tank and all major Israeli ground combat platforms.
Russia has introduced Afganit active protection system in its new Armata T-14 tank and is claimed to be a generation ahead of the Shtora, Arena and Trophy APS systems Russian Armata . In the operation to liberate the city of Aleppo, the Syrian army used a company of T-90 MA tanks. The APS on the T-90 MA (Shtora) tanks neutralized American BGM-71 TOW-2 anti-tank missiles. Today Russian tanks make routine and effective use of active protection against Ukrainian anti-tank missiles, with some Ukrainian troops lamenting the Russians’ “magic shield” that stops their shots. China successfully has fielded hundreds of new Type 99A tanks that roughly are similar to mid-generation, digital M-1s.
US Army tanks deployed to Europe as part of the service’s largest exercise in years are rocking a new piece of sophisticated military tech: An active protection system designed to protect against anti-tank missiles. U.S. Army and Marine Corps contracted Leonardo DRS to provide the same Trophy system for M1 Abrams Main Battle Tanks which are being delivered. APS on Abrams tanks, quite naturally, is the kind of protective technology which could help US Army tanks in tank-on-tank mechanized warfare against near-peer adversary tanks, such as a high-tech Russian T-14 Armata tank.
In parallel, Leonardo DRS and Rafael are maturing a lighter weight Trophy Vehicle Protection System (VPS) that is aimed at smaller, lighter platforms like Stryker. Leveraging material and component upgrades, the VPS system has achieved a 40 percent weight reduction and improved power management while retaining its ability to protect against the full range of direct fire, anti-armor rocket, and missile threats.
German arms maker Rheinmetall is rolling out a new Active Protection System (APS) it says should lay Army safety concerns about such systems to rest. The Army is rushing to install anti-missile defenses on its armored vehicles but remains concerned about whether they might accidentally shred nearby civilians or friendly troops. The Rheinmetall system has been tested and certified to meet uniquely stringent safety standards, the company says. It shoots down incoming missiles at the last instant, which they argue is (ironically) safer for surrounding troops than an early kill
Successful fielding of APS will reduce the effectiveness of anti-tank guided missiles and shoulder-fired weapons such as rocket propelled grenades. This will change battlefield dynamics by increasing the importance of cannon, anti-tank guns and tanks,” according to Military Balance 2016 report by the International Institute for Strategic Studies.
Israeli firm Rafael’s TROPHY APS system
There are a number of APS products on the market, but a highly mature system currently being tested by the US Army is the TROPHY™ system. Israeli’s TROPHY deployed aboard Merkava IV tanks has proven 100 percent effective during multiple engagements in and around the Gaza Strip since its fielding, and especially during the Israel Defense Forces’ 2014 Operation Protective Edge. In dense, urban terrain and an intense electromagnetic environment, TROPHY™ successfully defeated attacks by both short-range, tandem RPG-29 rockets and long-range Kornet missiles. No tanks equipped with TROPHY™ suffered hits, casualties or residual effects – nor did any accompanying infantry troops – during any of these engagements.
TROPHY™ sensors detect and identify incoming threats anywhere around the vehicle. Then hard-kill countermeasures are fired to neutralize the ordnance before it can strike the vehicle. With no extra weighty armor or decrease in vehicle performance, TROPHY™ dramatically improves the survivability of the crew and vehicle under its protection.
The system employs actively scanned radar to provide continuous 360-degree protection of the vehicle. Radar is considerably superior to other sensors as a primary threat detector due to its greater effectiveness in adverse combat conditions like smoke, sand, dust, mud, glare and battlefield explosions. U.S. Army requirements demand that an APS must be capable of protecting vehicles under all conditions.
Once the threat is detected, the onboard computer classifies the threat and, if a hit is probable, the countermeasure launcher slews into position and launches a tight pattern of explosively formed penetrators that neutralize the warhead before impact or detonation. TROPHY™ allows the user to customize its protection based on existing threats, the operational environment, and published rules of engagement.
Emphasizing the new concept of Networked Threat Awareness and Response, TROPHY™’s job isn’t done when an enemy missile is defeated. The same sensors that track the shots at the vehicle also paint a target on the shooter. The system automatically locates the shooter, allowing an immediate response from the crew. They can focus on returning fire, maneuvering out of contact, activating slew-to-cue weapons and sensors or calling for fire support.
At the same time, TROPHY™ automatically transmits the engagement data to the battle management network, giving friendly forces immediate enemy information. Free from worry about enemy rockets and missiles, and empowered with unparalleled threat awareness, armored forces can now regain their signature dominant offensive power and momentum on the battlefield. The Israeli Ministry of Defense and Defense Forces put TROPHY™ through a four-year safety certification process before approving its operational use aboard the Merkava MkIV tank in 2010.
The US Program Executive Office Ground Combat Systems (PEO GCS) has awarded Leonardo DRS a second contract to equip an unspecified number of US Army M1A2 Sep v2 and US Marine Corps (USMC) M1A1 main battle tanks (MBTs) with the Rafael Advanced Defence Systems-developed Trophy HV hard-kill active protection systems (APSs).
Rafael and DRS Technologies say they understand where the U.S. Army wants to go with APS in the future and have designed TROPHY™ with a built-in ability to accept future technologies and capabilities, aligning the non-developmental system well with the Army’s longer-term Modular Active Protection System (MAPS) program. The goal is a modular system into which new and emerging detection and defeat technologies can plug and play.
“Rockets, artillery, mortars, guided anti-tank weapons, those kinds of things are proliferating…so much that to put our Marines and our soldiers out into that kind of environment without that kind of protection…it is getting to the point where we have to have it,” Walsh said.
As the Army continues to develop MAPS, it says it is pursuing parallel plans to identify and field a viable, non-developmental APS on its combat vehicles in two years. Lt. Gen. Robert Walsh, chief of Marine Corps Combat Development Command, said existing APS technologies have proven effective against existing and emerging threats and the time has come to deliver that capability to soldiers and Marines in harm’s way.
Israel’s IRON FIST for both infrared and radar sensors
Israel’s IMISystems has also developed an APS system which uses a multi-sensor early warning system with both infrared and radar sensors. “Electro-optical jammers, Instantaneous smoke screens and, if necessary, an interceptor-based hard kill Active Protection System,” IMISystems officials state.
IRON FIST capability demonstrators underwent full end-to-end interception tests, against all threat types, operating on the move and in urban scenarios. These tests included both heavy and lightly armored vehicles. “In these installations, IRON FIST proved highly effective, with its wide angle protection, minimal weight penalty and modest integration requirements,” company officials said.
Russia’s Afganit Active Protection System (APS)
Russia’s new T-14 Armata tank represents “the most revolutionary step change in tank design in the last half century,” says a leaked report of the British military intelligence obtained by The Sunday Telegraph newspaper in London.”For the first time, a fully automated, digitised, unmanned turret has been incorporated into a main battle tank,” The Sunday Telegraph quotes the report. “And for the first time a tank crew is embedded within an armoured capsule in the hull front.” “As a complete package, Armata certainly deserves its billing as the most revolutionary tank in a generation,” the report says.
Anti-missile countermeasures are also integral to the Armata’s design. T-14 will incorporate several active protection system called Afganit designed to kill incoming missiles before they even strike the tank. Afganit uses a small Doppler radar that operates in tandem with a set of sensors in the infrared spectrum to discover targets and measure the distance to them.
The Afganit microprocessor system calculates the trajectory of the rocket fired at the tank and fires explosive interceptors back at it. Afganit can track multiple targets and prepare to destroy two of them simultaneously. The interceptor tubes have a fuel block and a proximity fuse. Unlike other protection systems, Afganit tubes do not produce shrapnel. They use only the blast wave from the explosion to destroy the incoming missile or cause it to explode early.
UBT/Rheinmetall’s Active Defense System
German defense firms called Rheinmetall and IBD Deisenroth, Germany, joined forces to develop active vehicle protection systems; Rheinmetall AG owns a 74% share, with the remainder held by IBD Deisenroth GmbH. Described as a system which operates on the “hard kill” principle, the ADS is engineered for vehicles of every weight class; it purports to defend against light antitank weapons, guided missiles and certain improvised explosive devices (IEDs).
“The sensor system detects an incoming projectile as it draws close to the vehicle, e.g. a shaped charge or antitank missile. Then, in a matter of microseconds, the system activates a protection sector, applying directed pyrotechnic energy to destroy the projectile in the immediate vicinity of the vehicle. Owing to its downward trajectory, ADS minimizes collateral damage in the zone surrounding the vehicle,” the company’s website states.
The ADS solution is a near-field modular hard-kill APS architecture comprising a distributed directed high-explosive countermeasure (CM) package, a low-power multi-tone continuous wave radar pre-warner radar array, a dual infrared(IR)/electro-optic (EO) sensor suite, and a central processing component. The ADS CM is believed to be a directed high-explosive line charge that ‘cuts’ the threat. Residual energy from the threat defeat is directed back to the armour of the platform, which absorbs it and thereby minimising collateral effects.
There are two types of active protection systems, in Rheinmetall’s typology. The current world-leading system, the Israeli Trophy now being tested on US Abrams tanks, is a “launcher” type. It detects the incoming missile and launches a countermeasure, which intercepts the threat and detonates some distance from the vehicle. The problem with this approach, Rheinmetall argues, is it creates a big explosion some 30 to 40 feet away from the defended vehicle. That’s where friendly infantry are likely to be. So “distributed” active protection system — like Rheinmetall’s ADS or DARPA’s Iron Curtain — instead puts small charges all around the vehicle (hence “distributed”). One of these charges then blasts the incoming missile at point-blank range just a fraction of a second before it impacts. Obviously that creates an explosion right next to the armored vehicle they’re protecting, but it’s not the highly focused, armor-piercing blast of an anti-tank warhead impacting the armor, so it’s generally safe for the vehicle.
The US Army will explore using Rheinmetall’s ADS active protection system (APS), among others, on its Stryker wheeled combat vehicles after determining that the Artis Iron Curtain APS was not a good fit. A notable challenge for APS integration on Stryker is power consumption: the platform design did not provide integrating an APS solution, and consequently installing additional systems or capability requires the lowest possible power consumption. Rheinmetall Active Protection believes that this requirement could be an advantage for its system. “The power consumption of our system is below 500 W at its peak activity, [or] the spike load when firing its defensive capability,” Haase noted. “In the standard surveillance mode, the power consumption it is probably around half of this, and that’s with the full system running.”
US Army seeks Modular Active protection system to Detect, Track and Destroy Enemy Fire
The M1A2C in essence is a better-protected M1A2SEPv.2 that’s also easier to upgrade. In addition to Trophy and more armor, the new tank boasts more electrical power, better diagnostic systems and a data-link that’s compatible with programmable ammunition types that are in development. U.S. Army already is planning a new M1 variant to follow the M1A2C. The “cornerstone technology” of the M1A2D is a new infrared sensor, according to the Army. The newest Abrams will also sport a new laser range-finder and will be compatible with artificial intelligence that could make the tank more autonomous, the Army stated.
The U.S. Army is planning to bring new vehicle protection technologies to the fleet to include reactive armor tiles, as well as laser warning and signature management capabilities, according to Col. Glenn Dean, the program manager for the service’s Stryker combat vehicle.
Integrating APS will be less of a challenge when it is included in the clean-sheet design of an armored vehicle. That’s the plan of Army Futures Command, which is developing two new tanks, a fighting vehicle, and an armored personnel carrier under the NGCV program (as well as robotic vehicles that may or may not need an APS). Vehicle protection is one of the enabling technologies of the program, along with maneuver robotics and autonomous systems, directed energy weapons, and power generation and management.
The use of open systems architecture with plug and play capabilities is at the heart of Future Command’s efforts to shepherd a successful combat vehicle development program. To that end, it is leveraging the Modular Active Protection System (MAPS) effort, which is actually not an APS, but rather a modular framework and controller to integrate APS subsystems like sensors and hard/soft kill countermeasures. The expectation is that MAPS will help the Army respond to urgent threats by quickly introducing new technologies not tied to any vendor’s proprietary system.
The MAPS is being developed as an open architecture system with a common controller, and will be capable of installation on a variety of ground vehicles. Vehicles slated for use of APS systems are infantry fighting vehicles such as Bradleys along with Stykers, Abrams tanks and even tactical vehicles such as transport trucks and the emerging Humvee replacement, the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle. The MAPS program will do a layered demonstration where they are layering a hard-kill and soft-kill defeat system onto the same platform.
Lockheed Martin was awarded the initial MAPS prototype controller contract in 2014 and continues to manufacture and deliver base kits to MAPS stakeholders. The base kit consists of a controller, user interface, power management distribution system, network switch and application software. It provides processing power to MAPS-enabled sensors and countermeasures and directs them in defeating incoming missiles and rockets. The base kit supports the rapid integration of MAPS framework-compliant sensors and countermeasures to detect and defeat threats targeting MAPS-equipped vehicles. It is designed to protect current combat vehicles, as well as support future vehicle protection system capabilities
Officials said Lockheed Martin would continue developing the Modular Active Protection Systems (MAPS), which is designed to enable protection of vehicles and their occupants by integrating sensors and countermeasures in a common framework to detect and defeat existing and emerging threats. Paul Lemmo, vice president of Sensors & Global Sustainment at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control said,“A modular and open-architecture design means any component can be selectively upgraded across all MAPS-enabled platforms to address emerging threats. That promotes affordability by extending the system’s life cycle, and boosts protection for the warfighter without increasing vehicle weight.”
The MAPS effort establishes an APS Common Architecture (CA) and APS common controller (algorithms and software) applicable across all military vehicles. MAPS is developing the APS CA to have standard interfaces that enable adaptable APS solutions that can be integrated across Army vehicle platforms as required. The APS CA provides the flexibility, potential component commonality and growth capability to enable “Best of Breed” components.
The U.S. Army completed the integration of three countermeasures and a cuing sensor into the Modular Active Protection Systems (MAPS) framework with the support from Lockheed Martin and its industry partners. The integration was completed during a six-week “rodeo” conducted at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama. In a series of live-fire tests, the MAPS-enabled systems defeated 15 out of 15 anti-tank guided missiles by jamming their signals, causing them to fly off-target.
Lockheed Martin engineers led hardware and software integration of an Ariel Photonics countermeasure into the MAPS framework ahead of the tests. They also supported U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Ground Vehicle Systems Center efforts with BAE Systems and Northrop Grumman in integrating two other countermeasures and a cueing sensor.
The associated sensors and countermeasures will be compatible with the controller, allowing different sensor and countermeasure solutions to be deployed on present and future vehicles. The objective of these cueing sensors is primarily to alert the crew or APS to the launch of an RPG, ATGM, Tank Fire or Recoilless Rifle, and to be able to provide azimuth and elevation of the origin of those threats.
A variety of sensors will be employed on board the vehicle to provide the capability of detecting and tracking multiple munition and directed-energy weapon threats. Signal and information processing technologies will provide the “brains” to enable the vehicle commander to select the most appropriate countermeasures. Countermeasures will include not only active protection but electronic devices, obscurants, decoys, and other technologies for hit and detection avoidance.
The Hit Avoidance Advanced Technology Demonstration (ATD) Program addressed the challenges of integrating advanced sensing and information technologies into an effective vehicle-mounted survivability system. A key element of this program was the development of a Commander’s Decision Aid (CDA). The CDA provides information processing and resource management capabilities that integrate user, vehicle, and off-board data to classify threats and recommend appropriate countermeasures.
The critical component of an active protection system will be its countermeasure. Countermeasures will provide an effective means of deflection, disruption, or “hard kill” of anti-armor weapon threats such as tank rounds, missiles, and artillery fire. Warheads, armor plates, and other devices launched from vehicle platforms are being developed (or adapted) as potential active protection counter munitions.
Some examples include Momentum Transfer Armor, Multiple Explosively Formed Projectile (EFP) Warhead, Blast Deflection Warhead, and “Birdcatcher” Net. The complete defeat of threats, which are not induced to miss the vehicle, may require some passive base armor on the vehicle to defeat the residual threat following the countermeasure intercept.
Advanced concepts featuring lightweight high-strength materials are being investigated to achieve passive “debris-defeat” mechanisms at acceptable weight densities. Multiple EFP warheads are being developed to provide full spectrum capability to the Army’s future Active Protection System (APS), a global security architecture designed to prevent a ballistic missile threat.
Performance requirements of AP countermeasures and other active protection system components will vary with the types of anti-armor threat, which are primarily categorized into two classes-chemical-energy (CE) and kinetic-energy (KE) munitions. Successful development of active protection systems to defeat CE threats, such as the relatively slow-moving and large-signature missile, poses several technical challenges. Even more challenging, however, are counter-KE systems, which must be considerably more accurate, agile, and robust. The extremely fast-moving and low-signature KE threats must be detected at further distances, tracked at higher data rates, intercepted closer to the vehicle, and ultimately consumed by robust passive base armor on the vehicle.
Despite these technical risks, considerable progress has been made. An extremely sensitive Passive IR Tracking Sensor has demonstrated the ability to accurately track KE projectiles at range rates and data rates at or near the program requirements. Subscale experimentation of the Momentum Transfer Armor, Radial Shaped-Charge Warhead, and Multiple EFP Warhead countermeasures has demonstrated the ability to successfully intercept KE threats.
A challenge with the technology is to develop the proper protocol or tactics, techniques and procedures such that soldiers walking in proximity to a vehicle are not vulnerable to shrapnel, debris or fragments from the explosion between an interceptor and approaching enemy fire.
Artis Corporation’s Iron Curtain
A Virginia-based defense firm known as Artis, developer of the Iron Curtain APS system, uses two independent sensors, radar and optical, along with high-speed computing and counter munitions to detect and intercept approaching fire, according to multiple reports. Iron Curtain began in 2005 with the Pentagon’s research arm known as DARPA; the APS system is engineered to defeat enemy fire at extremely close ranges.
The systems developers and multiple reports – such as an account from Defense Review — say that Iron Curtain defeats threats inches from their target, which separates the system from many others which intercept threats several meters out. The aim is to engineer a dependable system with minimal risk of collateral damage to dismounted troops or civilians. The Defense Review report also says that Iron Curtain’s sensors can target destroy approaching RPG fire to within one-meter of accuracy.
“Iron Curtain has already been successfully demonstrated in the field. They installed the system on an up-armored HMMWV (Humvee), and Iron Curtain protected the vehicle against an RPG. Apparently, the countermeasure deflagrates the RPG’s warhead without detonating it, leaving the “dudded” RPG fragments to just bounce off the vehicle’s side. Iron Curtain is supposed to be low weight and low cost, with a minimal false alarm rate and minimal internal footprint,” the Defense Review report states.
The Pentagon has given Herndon, Virginia-based defense solutions company Artis the green light to integrate Israeli radars from Rada Electronic Industries Ltd. into its Iron Curtain close-in active protection system (APS). Netanya, Israel-based Rada announced it would provide its Compact Hemispheric Radar-based RPS-10 radar to support Artis’ active protection against rocket-propelled grenades (RPG) and other shoulder-launched threats.
Zvi Alon, Rada’s CEO, said the firm’s sensors are designed to fit any potential APS system for ground vehicles. “After successful integration and testing of the RPS-10 with an Israel APS (Iron Fist), we are very happy with the opportunity to prove its operability as part of the Iron Curtain.” Dov Sella, Rada’s chief business development officer, noted that Rada’s strategy targets “all APS manufacturers.”
“Because our system is software-defined, we can adapt ourselves to all APS systems. Our radar is product-agnostic and presents a very attractive combination of price and performance. We believe it is one of the world’s most advanced capabilities for detecting threats and transmitting information in real time to APS countermeasures,” Sella said.
The British Army has allocated 15 million pounds ($16.8 million) for the UK Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) to upgrade its armored land vehicles modular protection system, the UK Ministry of Defence announced.
The funding builds on the follow-up phase of DSTL’s Icarus Technology Demonstrator Program, which constructed the MIPS (modular integrated protection system) open architecture standard to technology readiness level (TRL) 5.
The automated Modular Integrated Protection System (MIPS) classifies incoming enemy missiles, intercepts and destroys them. To do this, the ‘brain’ identifies what the incoming threat is and decides how best to defeat the object at precisely the right moment all in superfast time.
The programme will enable the UK to continue to develop future capabilities through to 2040.
It will deliver improvements to:
Sensors detecting threats across multiple frequencies combined with increasingly sophisticated ultra-fast signal processing
Information processing, including complex multiple-source data analysis and artificial Intelligence
The cells which react to the detection of incoming guided and unguided threats
Compact and affordable energy storage and motor drive technologies
Technologies exploiting safety and security features being developed elsewhere for industrial robotic and autonomous systems
The next stage MIPS will be integrated into UK’s plans to modernize British Army capabilities through 2040. “MIPS has the potential to open up a range of capability options for the Army, improving vehicle survivability against the most challenging threats now and in the future,” DSTL Active Protection researcher Tom Newbery said. The MIPS TRL 7 will be used to upscale sensors with rapid signal processing, AI-powered information systems, current counter-munition, and directed energy technology.
HENSOLDT further develops its self-protection system MUSS
“We have fundamentally revised and repositioned our technology,” explained Dr Oliver Rudow, Head of Business Line Countermeasures & Ground Protection Systems. The Multifunctional Self-Protection System (MUSS) is a soft kill-based active protection system (APS). It offers infantry fighting vehicles and main battle tanks efficient protection against enemy laser and armour-piercing threats. These can be effectively countered by warning sensors that detect the threat from missiles or lasers and initiate appropriate countermeasures. The MUSS self-protection system is already in series production and has so far been delivered more than 350 times.
The improvements include a new laser detector that covers all modern laser threats. MUSS 2.0 now offers improved and extended sensor technology, significantly improved software and modern countermeasures. MUSS is being further developed into a layered system and offers modern interfaces, which, among other things, enable the integration of a hard kill effector. “In addition, MUSS 2.0 will be even smaller and lighter than before”, said Dr Oliver Rudow.
Passive and Active Protection system market
The Global Protection systems market was earlier poised to achieve a revenue of USD 16 Billion by the year 2028 from a value of USD 11 Billion in 2019. The active protection system market is projected to grow from USD 3.9 billion in 2022 to USD 5.2 billion by 2027, at a CAGR of 5.5% from 2022 to 2027.
Active protection systems are widely used in the military, mostly to provide safety to armored fighting vehicles from enemy fire. They can be installed on tracked or wheeled armored fighting or logistics vehicles, combat helicopters, naval warfare ships, and other systems. Modular optoelectronic sensor systems, target acquisition systems, digital radar processors for target detection, and thermal imaging devices provide optimized field surveillance and combat by day/night or under poor visibility. Several countries are focusing on increasing their armored vehicle fleets owing to the rise in cross-border conflicts, which has directly led to the growth of the active protection system industry.
The US Army and Israeli defense forces, among other armed forces, have carried out practical analyses of numerous active protection systems developed by Raytheon (US), Artis LLC (US), Israel Military Industries (Israel), and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems (Israel) to equip and install active protection systems on their armored vehicles.
Protection Systems are technologies employed to supplement security to military and defense equipment. These systems are designed to withstand, detect, deviate, and destroy incoming weapons.
Militaries around the world are focusing on countering improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Anti-IED technologies such as double V-hulls, IED jammers, and other protection technologies can be integrated with active protection systems to provide full security to the platform. These systems are expected to be significant to a large variety of land combat platforms worldwide, as they can be equipped with a variety of sensors, radars, decoys, chaffs, and weapon mountings, which make them scalable, reliable, and flexible.
Technologies like reactive armors have now been devised that protect MBTs and IFVs from incoming munitions. Reactive armors sandwich high explosives between shields that detonate on the application of impact from the incoming warhead.
Advancements in the field of material sciences act as another driver for the market. The mobility and maneuverability associated with IFVs are poor due to the weight of the vehicle. Therefore, materials with high tensile strength and stress to strain ratio are now being used to develop components of combat systems. Moreover, the cost benefactor associated with conventional APCs is high. The inclusion of optimized material science technology lowers the cost associated with vehicle maintenance.
Restraint: High development and maintenance costs
The high cost incurred on the development of radar systems is one of the major factors hindering the growth of the radar systems market and thus, affecting the active protection systems market. Since radar is one of the major components of active protection systems, which help to track, engage, and detect the incoming target and send signals to the receptor to act against the threats, they are required to be accurate.
The Active Protection System market in the U. S. is estimated at US$981.4 Million in the year 2020. China, the world`s second largest economy, is forecast to reach a projected market size of US$832.4 Million by the year 2027 trailing a CAGR of 4.8% over the analysis period 2020 to 2027. Among the other noteworthy geographic markets are Japan and Canada, each forecast to grow at 4.9% and 4% respectively over the 2020-2027 period. Within Europe, Germany is forecast to grow at approximately 4.2% CAGR.
Top European economies, including the UK, France, and Germany, are expected to invest in the modernization and upgrade programs of their military capabilities to build an army that is capable of asymmetric warfare. Hence, the market for active protection systems in Europe is projected to witness significant growth during the forecast period. Rheinmetall Defense, Aselsan Inc., SAAB Group, Safran Electronics and Defense, Airbus Group, Thales Group, and Israel Military Industries are the leading manufacturers of active protection systems in the region.
The presence of countries like Russia and China are expected to accelerate the growth of the APAC regional segment. Therefore, APAC is expected to grow with a CAGR of less than 10% during the forecast period. Passive protection systems are expected to have the largest market share.
Major Players are: Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, KBM, Israel Military Industries, Rheinmetall AG, Raytheon Company, Artis, LLC Saab AB, Aselsan, Safran Electronics & Defense, Airbus Defense and Space, Imi Systems Ltd and JSC RPC KBM
For instance, in January 2022, the Hungarian government awarded a contract to Rheinmetall AG of Germany to install StrikeShield hard-kill active protection systems on 209 new Lynx infantry fighting vehicles.
In January 2022, the US Army awarded a contract to the team of Unified Business Technologies (UBT) and Rheinmetall Protection Systems to test the StrikeShield active protection system at Redstone Test Center in Huntsville, Alabama. Various players such as Rheinmetall AG (Germany), Saab AB (Sweden), Raytheon Company (US), Airbus (Netherlands), and ASELSAN AS (Turkey) among others, are prominent players operating in the active protection system market.
In April 2021, Raytheon Corporation (US) demonstrated its Quick Kill 2.0 system, which uses a vertical launch countermeasure against incoming threats, in the armored vehicle display area.