2009/02/04

Active Protection Suites (for AFV): state of the art

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edit 2014-04: The mentioned article has become available in English.

I was repeatedly annoyed by a phenomenon of the language barrier between German and English: A wide-spread ignorance in the English-language public about non-U.S., non-Israeli and non-Russian active protection suites.
This ignorance leads to wrong perceptions of APS potentials and relative qualities.

The Israeli Trophy system (2007) is the first and only operational Western APS and therefore the best one (the only known/published Russian examples were 1980's hardware).
The resulting perception that it's the best one is apparently wrong, and Trophy does not show the full potential of APS at all.

We had an article on APS in Strategie und Technik (previously known as "Soldat und Technik"), a German journal on military affairs (mostly hardware and organizations) in October.
The author was Dieter Haug, a present and long-time employee of the German ministry of defence, department for procurement and occupied with protection technologies.
The article would have gained a lot of attention and sparked extreme interest and many discussions if it had appeared in a generic English language journal, accessible for Americans and Brits.

The article mentions three categories of APS based on the interception point (the smallest distance from which a shot can be fired and still intercepted):
Close range IP: up to 2 m
Medium range IP: 2 to 30 m
Far-Range IP: more than 30 m

APS can also be grouped along their reaction times into
microsecond (hard kill),
millisecond (hard kill)and
second APS (soft-kill).

It becomes clear over the course of the article that APS in the millisecond/medium range IP range have quite long minimum distance against targets like HEAT tank gun shells and high velocity ATGMs - even against man-portable anti-tank weapons like RPG-19 more than a hundred meters.

The use of actively emitting radars that can be exploited by the enemy for reconnaissance and targeting with passive radar sensors is another problem, but not common to all APS.

He also tells about the quantity of known hard kill APS systems (projects) in the world: 50! The public discussion of hard kill APS is based on a basic knowledge of less than ten systems as far as I know!

Finally, the article had a great table at the end. I found some of the intercept distance and weights to be unlike info from other sources and we need to keep in mind that these systems are unproven, but it's still a great table.

Sadly, it's in German, but I compiled some interesting info for a German system (AMAP-ADS), an U.S.American system (Quick Kill) and an Israeli system (Trophy) into a table of my own:

(click on it)

AMAP-ADS was the only system with claimed microseconds performance in the table - with claimed effectiveness against KE (APFSDS long rods being possibly deflected/broken/turned) and even EFP (explosively formed projectiles - very fast) while emitting no radar signal - too good to be true?


I hope this helps to improve the understanding of modern APS technology beyond the German language area.

Sven Ortmann

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