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T-55AD Drozd

As an alternative to passive or reactive armor defense systems against antitank rockets and weapons, the Tula Machine Design Bureau under A. Shipunov developed the world's first active tank defense system, called the KAZT Drozd (Kompleks aktivnoi zashchity tanka:: Tank active defense system-Thrush). Drozd entered development in 1977 on the basis of an army requirement and the first prototypes were ready by 1978. The Army lost interest in the concept, but the program continued due to support from the Soviet Naval Infantry.

The Soviet Naval Infantry was having difficulty replacing its T-55 tanks as later types such as the T-62 and T-72 posed weight and size problems in standard navy amphibious ships and landing craft. The development costs for Drozd, are believed to have been around $170 million. This represented a much smaller investment than the cost of developing a new tank specifically tailored for the needs of Soviet Naval Infantry.

Production of Drozd began on a limited scale from 1981 to 1982. This system was first fitted to T-55M or T-55AM tanks, which were then redesignated T-55AD. When fitted to the upgraded T-55M1 or T-55 AM1 tanks with the improved V-46 diesel engine, the designation became T-55AD1. The Drozd tanks are not fitted with the applique armor, but do carry the 9K116 Bastion guided missile system. The total Drozd production run was small at less than 300 tank systems. It does not appear to have been commonly deployed by the Soviet Navy Infantry, probably due to the extensive security measures taken to protect the system's existence.

By the late 1980s, when Kontakt-1 reactive armor became available, the Soviet Naval Infantry switched to T-55 tanks with reactive armor as a more practical alternative to the cumbersome and relatively expensive Drozd system. The Drozd system has been exported in small numbers to several Western European countries, China, and to one undisclosed Middle East client.

The Drozd system consists of three main elements, two launcher arrays on either side of the turret and an auxiliary power unit on the rear of the turret. Each launcher array consists of four launch tubes with a Doppler radar sensor array mounted above the tubes. The radar sensor arrays actively emit a radio frequency beam forward of the tank. The auxiliary power unit can provide power to the system and can surge up to a maximum of 800 watts for short-periods of time.

The radar is gated to acquire targets moving at speeds of between 70 to 700 meters per second; this gating process avoids engaging the system against small arms and other high speed projectiles (e.g., long-rod armor penetrators). On acquiring the incoming slow-moving projectile, the Drozd's analog computer determines which of the eight KAZ projectiles to launch. The radar system determines the range of the incoming missile or rocket, and the computer calculates when to fire the KAZ projectile, and does so automatically. The KAZ is launched to intercept the enemy missile at a variable range from 2.7 to 7 meters from the tank.

The KAZ projectile is 107 millimeters in diameter, weighs 9 kilogram and is rocket boosted out of the tube with an initial velocity of 190 meters per second. The fuze detonates the warhead from 2.7 to 7 meters in front of the tank, and there is no guidance aboard the KAZ projectile after launch. The high explosive warhead has a prefragmented steel casing which on detonation breaks up into 3 gram slugs traveling at 1,600 meters per second. From a Russian promotional video on Drozd, it would appear that the KAZ projectile explodes over the incoming missile, with a directed downward blast. The launcher arrays are configured to cover 80 degrees in azimuth, and -6 to +20 degrees in elevation. The Drozd system includes a rearward pointing light system for warning nearby friendly units when it will fire. The Drozd launchers take around 10 minutes to reload from an on-board supply of rockets.

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Page last modified: 29-03-2016 20:06:02 ZULU