Understanding how to maximize active protection performance is crucial to the safety and survivability of warfighters on the battlefield. It provides better situational awareness for more informed decision making in neutralizing high-speed lethal threats. While many elements contribute to active protection systems, the radar is at the heart of the system, and must be highly capable and affordable.
What Are Active Protection Systems?
Active protection systems defend warfighters from anti-tank missiles, rocket-propelled grenades, and other lethal, high-speed projectiles on the battlefield. They primarily conjoin a radar with soft-kill and / or hard-kill countermeasures to eliminate or deflect threats away from tanks and other combat vehicles.
The radar scans the surrounding area continuously to detect incoming threats. As these threats are identified, a counterattack is launched to intercept the threat before it makes contact with the combat vehicle. An active protection system must provide full 360-degree coverage for acceptable survivability. For optimal performance, the system should also provide 360-degree hemispherical coverage.
Hard-Kill Active Protection Systems
Hard-kill systems actively fire projectiles to counterattack incoming threats. The hard-kill engagement takes place at close range to the protected vehicle with the responsibility of decreasing the penetrability of the threat or using a blast and / or fragment action to destroy them.
Soft-Kill Active Protection Systems
On the other hand, soft-kill systems opt to deter projectiles, rather than destroying them. They may jam or limit the projectile’s flight through:
- Infrared jammers
- Radar jammers
- Laser imitators
These countermeasures prevent the projectile from locking on to the combat vehicle so that it misses its target and is neutralized.
The Benefits of Active Protection Systems
When you maximize active protection performance, you provide crucial awareness and survivability for warfighters on the battlefield. These systems can effectively neutralize lethal threats that could potentially damage the protected vehicle and / or soldiers inside the vehicle or nearby.
Active protection systems also provide the point of origin (POO) of the attack to enable neutralizing the threat source and provide additional information about the threats. They also reduce the burden of additional weight due to thicker, heavier vehicle armor typically needed to counter the increasing lethality of threats.
Mitigating Risk with Active Protection Systems
While active protection systems can mitigate an immense amount of risk, there are also a few risks that come alongside using them. Understanding how to maximize active protection performance can help you achieve full hemispheric coverage, but there are still environmental and situational factors that can get past even the best radar sensors.
Clutter is caused by radio waves bouncing off of unintended objects that are not threats, like nearby vehicles and the surrounding terrain. Mountains, buildings, and even wildlife and plants can cause interference and clutter. This clutter can prevent the radar from locking onto the trajectory of the threat. For these reasons, soldiers must remain vigilant while working in any active battlefield.
Some cutting-edge missiles utilize top-down attacks, meaning that they approach their targets at very steep angles. While radars have no problem tracking these missiles as they approach, the vehicles may not be equipped to fire back immediately. Instead, they may need to utilize soft-kill measures to respond quickly to incoming threats.
RADA USA’s aCHR
RADA USA’s Advanced Compact Hemispheric Radar (aCHR) offers a number of ways to maximize active protection performance in combat. The aCHR is software-defined and provides automation and precise intercept with real-time target trajectory data. It balances size and performance and is perfect for on-the-go missions where range and accuracy are key. And to top it all off, its affordability and value are unrivaled.