Several of these so-called "active protection" systems are making progress, both here and in Israel. Generally speaking, they all work in the same way, Defense News' Barbara Opall-Rome notes:• A radar detects and identifies an approaching threat.
• Target information is transferred to a kill mechanism.
• The kill mechanism destroys the target at a safe distance from the vehicle.
A few weeks back, Trophy, an Israeli active protection set-up, went through its first tests on an American Stryker vehicle. It's already being used to protect Israeli tanks against rocket-propelled grenades.[In a] Feb. 28 test... two inert RPGs were fired simultaneously; one would hit the Stryker while the other was intentionally aimed for a near miss… Trophy was able to track the trajectory, discriminate among the two parallel targets, and determine which one would actually hit the Stryker before selectively unleashing its lethal countermeasures. The actual method used to destroy the targets is classified.
The Pentagon's Office of Force Transformation is planning on using Trophy on its Project Sheriff vehicles -- those experimental personnel carriers, armed with pain rays and sonic blasters.
Meanwhile, the Army is pursuing its own active protection plans. Its Tank-Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center has been test-firing a system which blasts incoming RPGs with foot-long fragmentation rounds. Raytheon has just been handed a $70 million contract to actively protect the Army's next-generation combat vehicles. Last month, the company successfully demonstrated its "Quick Kill" RPG-stopper, eDefense notes.The precision-launched weapon employs a technique called "soft launch," whereby it launches vertically from the vehicle, pitches over, and is propelled by its rocket motor to the point of intercept with the RPG, at which point it fires its warhead. This method provides a combat vehicle with full hemispheric protection from a single system, rather than placing a number of them around the sides of the vehicle. It also avoids the concussion and stress that a more traditional launch method would put on the vehicle.
In addition, a vehicle equipped with the Quick Kill system would typically carry eight to 16 such rounds that could be launched in a salvo to counter multiple RPG attacks.
There are other, more exotic active protection approaches, too. Army-funded researchers recently filed a patent to stop attacks with parachutes. The Brits think they can stop RPGs with massive electrical charges. And a Navy-backed company, Aoptix Technologies, wants to "apply... high energy light based weapons" to keep RPGs from landing.
Fox News was showing a lot of the new Israeli anti-missile system, Trophy. The technology is not new, as the Russians have been using it for a while now. There are friendly fire issues to deal with, and other issues such as not being able to mount it on lightly armored vehicles. However, it is a set in the right direction as far as heavy armor protection is concerned.