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Active Protection Systems

By 2016 the Army had an established program called Modular Active Protection System. This five-year program was started in 2015. In the interim, the second part of the Army's strategy is to look at existing active protection systems both domestically produced and even those that US allies [aka Israel] may have. The Army brought those in for testing in 2016, which could provide a capability sooner than the five-year timeframe. The Army's goal was to have capability in two years.

The MAPS program is developing technologies in order to increase vehicle survivability and protection against current and emerging advanced threats. Technologies developed will provide this increased protection while maintaining or reducing vehicle weight by reducing reliance on armor through the use of other means such as sensing, warning, hostile fire detection and active countermeasures.

The MAPS effort is a departure from previous APS efforts in that it 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.

This helps alleviate integration and cost challenges across the military vehicle fleet. In order to test and validate MAPS and the APS CA, a soft-kill demonstrator and a hardkill/soft-kill demonstrator will be developed and tested in FY17 and FY19, respectively. The goal of this effort is the development and demonstration of an effective APS capability and APS CA that establish and document standardized interfaces, subsystem specifications and a verified and validated APS simulation tool.

The U.S. Army Tank-Automotive Research, Development, and Engineering Center (TARDEC) leads the US Army Active Protection Program, with technology development efforts provided by the U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL), the U.S. Army Armament Research, Development, and Engineering Center (ARDEC), and industry. Active protection systems are being researched for application as a primary survivability component for the U.S. Army's future combat systems.

Active protection systems are novel survivability concepts intended to provide protection to armored vehicles that equals or exceeds that of massive, passive armors at only a fraction of the vehicle weight. The Army's Full-Spectrum Active Protection Program is designed to develop and demonstrate technologies that can be applied to both current and future ground vehicle developments.

An active protection system "detects, tracks, intercepts and physically defeats large-caliber threats at a distance sufficiently far from the defended vehicle to reduce the lethal effects of the threat and (ensure) vehicle survival.

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 CDA, Near-Term Active Protection System (N-TAPS), and other elements of the Hit Avoidance ATD provide an underpinning to the successful application of active protection systems in ground vehicles.

The operational concept of active protection is the accurate detection and tracking of a threat and the timely deployment of a countermeasure to defeat the threat. This requires the application of advanced sensor, data processiing, armor, and weapon technologies as an integrated system on the vehicle.

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 critical component of an active protection system willbe 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 countermunitions.

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.

The No Slew Active Protection System (APS) provides the technology for an FCS Block I APS based on the technology developed in the Counter Actve Protection Systems (CAPS) project, Project D550.

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Page last modified: 30-05-2017 18:57:44 ZULU