Thursday, 13 September 2012

Diehl´s Active Vehicle Protection System

The active vehicle protection system of Diehl demonstrates superiority under fire

Shelling military vehicles with shoulder-fired antitank weapons (rocket-propelled grenades – RPG, particularly RPG-7) in Afghanistan leads to numerous losses. Anti-tank guided missiles (ATGM) are not yet used by the Taliban, but pose a threat due to their availability. 

Successful tests with active vehicle protection systems
Under the name of AWiSS (Abstandswirksames Schutzsystem – active stand-off protection system), Diehl Defence has dealt with active, vehicle-based protection systems against antitank weapons early on. In 2006, an AWiSS demonstrator, integrated in a battle tank Leopard 2, successfully proved its effectiveness under fire against a guided antitank missile of the type MILAN 2. The effector destroyed the guided missile until the remaining fragments as well as the MILAN 2 hollow-charge jet no longer posed a threat to the battle tank.

After this trial campaign, AWiSS was advanced into the Active Vehicle Protection System (AVePS) based on user requirements. Launchers and effectors were designed to protect lighter mission vehicles as well. Moreover, the operating principle of the effectors was overhauled with the objective of maximum prevention of collateral damage. Furthermore a shatterproof blast effector was developed to destroy approaching threats with a directed blast. 

AVePS includes the following components:
  • Radar and infrared sensor technology
  • Four-countermeasure launcher
  • System computer
  • Effector cartridge with blast grenade
  • System safety electronics
During two test campaigns in 2011, AVePS successfully demonstrated function and performance under fire against different types of armor-piercing weapons.

In both test campaigns, an AVePS demonstrator was used in a joint project with an Israeli company, called MAPS (Mutual Active Protection System). For the first test, the system was integrated in an M113 armored personnel carrier to test it under fire against RPG-7 antitank weapons. The active vehicle protection system proved its effectiveness by fending off the threat.

In the second test campaign of the MAPS program, the system was integrated in a FUCHS armored personnel carrier with the AVePS launcher and effector technology. During this demonstration, rocket-propelled grenades with state-of the-art tandem warheads (Panzerfaust 3) were fended off successfully by the system. The concept of countering threats with sufficient distance (>ten meters) to the vehicle was proven once again because the probability of pre-triggering during engagement is very high especially with tandem warheads. If there is no sufficient distance between the engagement point and the platform, the basic protection of the vehicle might be pierced -with severe consequences for crew and vehicle.

Engagement process and system features

AVePS´ sensor technology is able to detect threats fired nearby, classify them and determine whether these will hit the vehicle. If this is the case, the launcher is directed toward the point of interception calculated by the system and an effector is fired at this point, based on a recoilless propulsion principle within split seconds. The threat is neutralized by the shatterproof blast effector through a shock wave.
Besides the actual goal of  fending off the threat, the system also decisively contributes to improving situational awareness. The AVePS sensor technology determines the release point of the weapon based on the trajectory, thus enabling quick and target-oriented countermeasures.

The launcher is optimized in terms of weight and moments of inertia and allows highest slew rates thus enabling countering threats fired at very close range. This again increases the weight advantage of launcher-based protection systems over explosive reactive armor or active protection systems with components distributed across the vehicle.

Modular configuration
AVePS with two launchers (system weight < 500 kg) can be used as a modular system
on heavy armored vehicles against RPG, ATGM and KE penetrators as well as with one launcher (system weight< 350 kg) on light armored vehicles against ATGM and RPG threats.

The advantages of AVePS over other systems 
All in all, AVePS features following advantages over other active vehicle protection systems:
  • Engagement of the entire range of antitank weapons such as RPG-7 with hollow-charge warhead or Panzerfaust 3 with tandem warhead all the way to modern anti-tank missiles (ATGMs) even with top attack. KE penetrators with sufficient distance to the vehicle are also fended off
  • 360° protection based on the capability to fight several goals from different directions within the shortest of time without having to reload
  • High operational capability based on the possibility of fast, manual reloading and unloading of blast effectors
  • High reliability and protection against accidental firing with a unique safety concept
Diehl Defence´s AVePS project has demonstrated the possibilities and performance potentials of future modern, active vehicle protection systems. Based on the comprehensive preparatory work, the first series prototypes could be provided for testing in use after a two-year development phase.

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