Until recently, the only thing you could use to protect a tank against armor piercing projectiles was add more armor and hope it stops the thing. But with computers, we now have the ability to react fast enough to actually intercept projectiles before they hit, eliminating the threat before it can even reach the tank. This video (in ACTUAL Russian) shows the Arena reactive armor system, as employed by the Russkies, and it’s freaking awesome.

42 Responses to Video: Reactive Armor in Action (Slow Motion)

    • When one’s active defenses run out or are struck too quickly for the system to respond. Or consider that an RPG-7 has a velocity of 115 m/s vs the M1A1’s main gun of between 1580 – 1750 m/s. This system probably can’t defend against a weapon traveling that fast.

      • it works against slower AT missile but tank fire is way faster and would hit the tank before the counter measure would launch. So in many cases this makes infantry irrelevant not tank on tank fighting.

        Like Mr Grime said. The SABOT round on a M-60A1 or M-1A1 is over 1000 time faster.

  1. That’s REALLY cool.

    But is this, technically, “reactive armor”?

    I’m hardly an expert, but my understanding was that “reactive armor” as such involved exploding plates on top of the armor itself, requiring the incoming round to actually impact the tank.

    This system seems to use a detection system that triggers the launch of anti-missile projectiles, which isn’t quite the same thing.

    Yes, I’m being pedantic here, but I also flame people who say ‘clip’ when they meant to say magazine. 🙂 (And I can definitely be corrected here without ego damage.)

    • that is why the M1 uses the sabbot as a primary tank killer. Can’t beat a oversize nail, moving “pretty fast”, love that round.

      • You can, if the reactive armor bolted to the tank can explode fast enough and shatter the incoming penetrator before it hits the armor underneath. What is demonstrated here is an active defense system, the reactive armor doesn’t launch, it’s just bolted onto the tank.

        They’re working on it, believe me. This is just a physics problem and the Russians have been solving those for years. Our counter to that is an electromagnetic rail gun for MBTs that puts out more KE than even reactive armor can handle.

  2. Cool armor, but I don’t see how it would work against a SLAP round or conventional AP. RPGs aren’t particularly deadly against modern tanks.

    • No, but Hellfires and TOWs (and their foreign equivalents) certainly are. This should be capable of at least disrupting those weapons. Even if the misile debris ultimately hits the tank, you won’t be getting a molten slug from a shaped charge.

    • RPGs are certainly deadly, like the RPG 29 and other newer generations.

      the active protection system portrayed here is designed to counter RPGs and missiles, not anti-tank munitions.

      true reactive armor is actually utilized in lieu of tank armor to protect against shaped charges.

      as for defense against a well-placed sabot? good old fashioned armor. and sabots are devastatingly effective. hell, given current sabot technology in the rifled 105mm gun, the 120mm sabot is overkill.

  3. Of course my North American Rock Ape (Infantry) breatheren probably don’t want to be anywhere near the tank when all of this is going on.

    • +10 As a certified crunchy, I’m even less likely to enjoy providing close infantry support to you tread heads. You guys can lay your own bridges…

    • most certainly they dont 😀

      its bad enough that the blast from the abrams cannon is dangerous and so is taking cover behind the gas turbine exhaust that blows over a thousand degrees F.

  4. I may be crazy, but as a tanker, I am 100% positive that we have been fitting our Abrams and Bradley Fighting Vehicles with Explosive Reactive Armor (ERA) armor for quite some time. This is really nothing new.

  5. I like this, because it looks like they’re launching and then detonating a Claymore, and if movies and video games have taught me anything, it’s that a Claymore is second only to a nuclear device in destructive capability.

    • Wrong. According to Call of Duty, Knives and crossbows are more deadly than claymores. I’ve hit people with claymores in CoD who then lived. Not so with knives or crossbows.

  6. Israel is also (probably with US help) on a similar system. But its bulky and heavy hence in actual combat this would make the vehicle too tall of heavy in some combat situations. Overall its good technology BUT is years away id say from being perfected.

    This technology is more for fighting in Iraq in 05 or Chechnya in 2000, urban fighting and facing unskilled insurgents. Not really a BIG help in a conventional war.

  7. This is actually Active Armor and it’s THE NEXT BIG THING (wish I had one of those radio talk show host reverb buttons).

    The armor on the M1 series of tanks (as well as the British Challenger and German Leopard) is a composite. There’s your basic rolled homogeneous steel armor (RHA) inner and outer shell, and Chobram Armor in between. If I told you what was in Chobram I’d have to kill you (really, welders who work where they might see whats behind that first layer of RHA have to have a security clearance), but it breaks up kinetic penetrators to little bits and breaks up the plasma jet of shaped charge warheads (like an RPG, TOW, AT 3/5/7, etc). The heavy armor package for the M1 series also includes a layer of depleted uranium that also protects against kinetic weapons.

    Like all things military, one side comes up with darn near inpenetrable armor (at least on the front 60 degrees) so the other side dreams up better shape charges that may or may not defeat the frontal armor, and top attack munitions that will poke a hole in the thinner armor on the roof.

    Next comes reactive armor. The key to defeating a HEAT Charge is to disrupt the plasma jet. You can do it with space, you can do it with armor, or you can do it with explosives (much more fun). When a HEAT round detonates against reactive armor the armor explodes, disrupting the plasma jet. The problem is that the guys who design weapons got smart, they started including two HEAT charges in their warheads (TOW IIB among others). The first sets off the reactive armor and gets disrupted, the second pokes a hole in the armor underneath.

    I suppose you could add a second layer of reactive armor, but then the warhead designers will add a third charge and so on and on. Thats when advances in computer technology, radar, and some stuff we won’t talk about (again, keeping me from having to find you all and kill you, which is time consuming and expensive) someone came up with Proactive Armor. Thats what you see here. Tank “sees” inbound missle, tank destroys inbound missle and however many warheads it has on board before it reaches the tank.

    Of course reactive and proactive armor don’t do squat to protect you from my favorite, the classic M829A2 APDS (Armor Piercing, Discarding Sabot), that sends a depleted uranium dart down range at about 5,500 fps and will penetrate in excess of 20 inches of RHA.

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