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Recent research has produced the idea of Electric Reactive Armour, where the armour is made up of two electrically charged plates separated by an insulator.
When an incoming body penetrates the two plates and closes the circuit, a high current and voltage will flow through the penetrator, and tend to vaporize it, and significantly reduce the resulting penetration.
It is not public knowledge whether this is supposed to function against both KE-penetrators and shaped charge jets, or only shaped charge jets. This technology has not been introduced on any operational platform.
As Non-Explosive Reactive Armor (NERA) or Non Explosive reactive Armor (NxRA) modules do not use energetic components, and therefore are not consumed when being hit. Therefore, they provide an effective multi-hit protection capability which cannot be obtained by ERA(here E is for explosive) or SLERA. Furthermore, the loads inflicted on the vehicle's structure are much smaller and therefore, such modules can be applied to lighter vehicles. from the reactive armor system. The downside of NERA is that while it is effective against CE threats, its performance is not sufficient when engaging KE threats. Scientists are predicting that future developments of NERA will be able to defeat medium caliber KE threats.
Further advancements of the ERA, considered for future implementation, include a "Smart Armor" concept that will has integrated sensors and microprocessors embedded into the armor, which sense the location, type, velocity and diameter of the projectile or jet, will trigger smaller explosive elements, to form an effect tailored against a specific penetrator.
Another future version of the reactive armor concept is the Momentum Transfer Armor - which is also designed to counter KE threats. This technology is applicable for front and side protection, where adequate space can be allocated for such installation. The system will be activated by threat warning sensors that will detect an incoming projectile and launch a small steel bar in a direction perpendicular to the flight-path of the approaching threat.
Such concepts are studied as part of futuristic armor concepts, among others to the US Army FSAP and French Leclerc 2010 concept
In the future, advanced protection techniques are developed, including stealth, smart armor, which attempts to deflect a round once it has penetrated the first layer of armor, and electromagnetic armor, which deforms and reshapes the penetrating rounds or plasma jet – both methods are causing the projectile's disintegration inside the armor, by its own kinetic or heat energy.
These technologies are expected to mature in time for FCS Block II. The US Army is currently testing electromagnetic armor concepts on the Bradley.
The system uses spaced, add-on modular elements, formed with a charged element and a forward surface, used as a precursor. the HEAT jet which penetrates the forward layer discharges the internal layer, and the effect causes the jet to dissipate and loose its energy. The system can be recharged and therefore protect the vehicle from multiple shots.
Full Spectrum Active Protection (FSAP) is a new active-protection concept currently developed for the US Army for its future and current armored vehicles. Advanced active protection systems are designed to provide the primary survivability component of future armored vehicles, protecting the vehicle from missiles, kinetic energy threats and top attack. The 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 assure vehicle survival.
Active protection system's components will include threat detection, tracking systems, signal processing systems, countermeasures systems and base armor, used for structural and residual threat defeat. The system will utilize multiple sensors, Sensors, including radar, IR and laser detection systems.
Upon detection of a threat, the system will enable the deployment of countermeasures or defensive tactics to avoid hit (when engaging anti-tank missiles or threats at medium/long range), or automatically activate countermeasures, when necessary (primarily against high velocity missiles and kinetic energy threats or RPGs at short range). The development of enhanced commander's decision aid (CDA) is also being pursued under FASP, for optimal utilization of the new defensive measures. Such systems will feed from the vehicle's sensors, as well as from off-board data sources, and will be able to rapidly process the information, classify threats and recommend appropriate countermeasures.
Various types of countermeasures are currently under development. Such munitions will provide effective means of deflection, disruption or hard-kill of anti-armor weapon threats such as anti-tank projectiles, missiles and artillery fire. Such munitions include both explosive, fragmentation or Multiple Explosively Formed projectile (Multi EFP) based warheads, or hard metal bars (momentum-transfer armor). Other concepts include blast effect for the deflection of incoming penetrator rods, and deployment of "birdcatcher" nets, against top-attack sumbunitions, which will intercept or disrupt their operation before they are activated
Scientists are developing super-tanks which would use powerful magnets to melt and destroy incoming missiles and shells.
Each vehicle would be covered in 'smart armour' using electrical fields, instead of thick metal, to give protection against anti-tank weapons. The technology, which is being perfected by defence researchers on both sides of the Atlantic, would transform armoured-vehicle construction.
Current machines, such as Britain's Challenger tank, weigh more than 60 tonnes because they have to carry plating that is more than 2ft thick. Such vehicles require massive amounts of fuel and other supplies, and cause logistical headaches when being transported to conflict zones, say military experts.
But a tank that relied on electromagnetic pulses, instead of plating, to provide a shield against missiles would weigh a modest 20 tonnes. A fleet would form a light but powerful rapid deployment force, and would transform Western nations' ability to take international military action.
Smart-armour research is treated as highly confidential by military officials and manufacturers. A Ministry of Defence spokesman would only confirm that projects aimed at transforming tank construction - part of the Army's Future Land Command project - were taking place. 'Developing technologies that will cut back on armour weight are a key part of that research,' he added.
However, scientists at the US Army Research Laboratory in Aberdeen, Maryland, have now revealed details of how smart armour would work.
According to research published in the current issue of New Scientist, each tank would be covered with tiles made of strong plas tic under which a sandwich of different materials would be installed. First there would be a mat of optical fibres, then a thin sheet of standard armour plating, and underneath that would lie a series of metal coils.
When an anti-tank shell explodes on standard armour, the copper cone of its head is projected as a powerful jet of metal that travels at five miles a second. This jet focuses an immense amount of energy on a tiny area and so can slice easily through several feet of dense metal, causing devastation inside a tank.
However, on striking smart armour a shell would produce a very different reaction. Firstly, it would sever optical cables in the mat below the tank's outer plastic cover. This would trigger sensors to activate electrical capacitors inside the tank which would send a mighty electrical current surging through the metal coils at the base of the smart armour.
A massive electromagnetic field would be created inside the armour, as the high-velocity copper jet begins to pass through it. This field would induce electrical currents in the copper.
'If you get enough current into the copper, you can heat it up and start pinching it in certain regions, making it unstable,' states Mike Zoltowski, of the Army Research Laboratory, in the New Scientist article. The thin copper jet would be flattened and broadened out and so would be unable to cut through the thin standard plating at the base of the smart armour.
Essentially, electromagnets would be used to dissipate the energy of an anti-tank missile or shell, like the force shields that protect the fictional Starship Enterprise.
'This kind of development is now seen as urgent by military planners,' Chris Foss, editor of Jane's Armour and Artillery, said. 'For example, some countries are working on "top attack" missiles which fly over the turret of an oncoming tank instead of striking it front on, where it is most strongly shielded. They would drop their payloads on the tank's relatively unprotected turret area.'
To protect against that, designers would be forced to add even more thick armour plating to these other parts of the tank, adding to its weight and fuel consumption and making it more unwieldy. The answer is magnetic pulses, says Zoltowski. 'The benefit is that you wouldn't need 800 millimetres of steel armour.'