Effectiveness of Active Anti-ATGM Defences


f.hind

New Member
With the Russian and Chinese employing these on their MBTs, and them having been in use with the USSR as well, they're hardy a new technology.

Why do no NATO/Western MBTs employ these systems? Are they not perceived as being effective (or effective enough to justify the expense) by NATO/Western militaries, or is it a matter of tactics and doctrine (for example an absence of an ATGM threat pressing enough)?

Given the status of the Leopard 2, Abrams, Challenger 2 and LeClerc amongst the top tanks in the world, I find it hard to imagine a piece of equipment such as this would be omitted if it was regarded as useful by the designers. I'd be interested to hear peoples thoughts on this :coffee:
 

Norfolk

Junior Member
VIP Professional
With the Russian and Chinese employing these on their MBTs, and them having been in use with the USSR as well, they're hardy a new technology.

Why do no NATO/Western MBTs employ these systems? Are they not perceived as being effective (or effective enough to justify the expense) by NATO/Western militaries, or is it a matter of tactics and doctrine (for example an absence of an ATGM threat pressing enough)?

Given the status of the Leopard 2, Abrams, Challenger 2 and LeClerc amongst the top tanks in the world, I find it hard to imagine a piece of equipment such as this would be omitted if it was regarded as useful by the designers. I'd be interested to hear peoples thoughts on this :coffee:
I believe that there are two major reasons why NATO tanks tend to avoid active ATGM defenses: the first is that many NATO tanks built since the late 1970's have at least Chobham armour, which is probably much more effective than any active ATGM defenses in existence (and the latest British tanks have the even better Dorchester armour, reputedly the best in the world); the second is that, as you might imagine, most active ATGM defenses are a threat to friendly infantry who are providing close-in protection for the tanks against ATGM's - ERA is very much a threat to nearby infantry when ATGM's strike nearby tanks, as even if the ERA or other active ATGM defense saves the tank, it takes some of its accompanying infantry out with it.

In short, active ATGM defenses (so far) are inferior to Western Chobham/Dorchester type armour (the exact compositions of which are very secret and have been disclosed to very few countries - and countries that do use active ATGM defenses are invariably those that do not have access to those secrets), and are a threat to nearby infantry who are needed by the tanks to flush out and destroy hidden enemy anti-tank weapons.
 

RedMercury

Junior Member
Modern ERA (maybe not Western ERA) do not explode, all their action is internal. They are harmless to troops.

Active protection systems are designed with infantry safety in mind. It is difficult to make them completely safe, but systems do take safety into account. Arena, an old Russian system, shoots projectiles downward to reduce the area of danger. Newer systems llike the Israeli Iron Fist do not produce shrapnel and are probably safer than the detonation of the ATGM to surrounding infantry.

Active protection can be effective against threats from all directions, including the most important-- top. Putting on enough Chobham or whatever other currently existing passive system for similar protection is prohibitively heavy.

The real disadvantages of active protection systems are their relative cost and the signature of their sensors. Arena was rejected by the Russian army because it increased the signature of the tank unacceptably.

The best solution, IMHO, is not to put all your eggs in one basket. A combination of passive and active systems makes for a multi-layered defense which could be more comprehensive and reliable.
 

zraver

Junior Member
VIP Professional
Lebanon showed that active defenses are like spitting agaisnt the wind. When the enemy volley fires on you ther eis not much you can do. Iraq with its EFP's is showing the way futre ATGM's will likely go. An EFP can have an effective range of up to 400m. Future missiles will probalby detonate away from the tank a good distance and let the hyper sonic plug shoot in faster than the APS can react.

Luckily lebanon also showed that curent western armor packages (Leo 2A6, merkava IV, Abrams A2, Chally 2 CLIP) are still adequate vs the most common threats.
 

zraver

Junior Member
VIP Professional
Merkava IV's were not heavily crippled, but older marks were as were non-Merkava variants.
 

Norfolk

Junior Member
VIP Professional
Lebanon showed that active defenses are like spitting agaisnt the wind. When the enemy volley fires on you ther eis not much you can do. Iraq with its EFP's is showing the way futre ATGM's will likely go. An EFP can have an effective range of up to 400m. Future missiles will probalby detonate away from the tank a good distance and let the hyper sonic plug shoot in faster than the APS can react.

Luckily lebanon also showed that curent western armor packages (Leo 2A6, merkava IV, Abrams A2, Chally 2 CLIP) are still adequate vs the most common threats.
There was at least one incident in which a Brit Challenger II (fitted with Dorchester armour) was damaged in Iraq by an RPG-29. However, the area that was struck by the rocket was in the driver's area which was covered by ERA tiles, as I believe the glacis, never mind the belly of the nose beneath the glacis, does not contain Dorchester armour, just RHA at a VERY steep angle (someone correct me about this if I am wrong.)

The rocket penetrated the ERA and the RHA, taking off part of the driver's foot. The rocket wouldn't have had a chance against Dorchester armour, however, though such armour (which can be up to two feet thick, reportedly) can only be mounted on certain surfaces concentrated along the frontal arc of the tank due to weight and size restrictions.

zraver is right: Active ATGM defenses, as they stand now, are no substitute for composite armour, and not necessarily even a worthwhile supplement to it. And even the most advanced active ATGM defenses are a threat to accompanying friendly infantry: the blast and concussive effects are still harmful to nearby infantry, who are already dealing with much else going on and they don't need the added stress, distraction and disorientation (not to mention potential for injury) that active ATGM defenses can cause.
 
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f.hind

New Member
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #10
Is the Chinese approach to ATGM defence completely novel, or has the idea of a laser dazzler been floated by anyone else? It removes the danger to infantry, but presumably limits its effectiveness to use against laser guided muntitons.
 

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