By David Crane
defrev (at) gmail (dot) com
A company called Artis, LLC has developed an anti-RPG (Rocket-Propelled Grenade) ground vehicle defense system called the Iron Curtain Active Protection System (APS) that integrates C-band radar, a distributed optical sensor, and a ring of ballistic countermeasures to neutralize incoming RPGs. Here’s how it works: Iron Curtain’s C-band radar detects and tracks an incoming round/threat and alerts the system. The system then switches from armed-ready state to an armed state. 2) As the incoming projectile closes in and gets into close range, Iron Curtain’s distributed optical sensor profiles and classifies the threat and continues to track it within 1 centimeter (1cm) of accuracy in order to select the correct aimpoint and determine which ballistic countermeasure (CM) to fire. 3) The CM acts/fires straight down, killing the incoming threat within inches of the vehicle, causing minimal collateral damage to personnel in close proximity.
According to the Artis, LLC website, Iron Curtain has already been successfully demonstrated in the field. They installed the system on an up-armored HMMWV (Humvee), and Iron Curtain protected the vehicle against an RPG. Apparently, the countermeasure deflagrates the RPG’s warhead without detonating it, leaving the “dudded” RPG fragments to just bounce off the vehicle’s side. Iron Curtain is supposed to be low weight and low cost, with a minimal false alarm rate and minimal internal footprint.
Artis claims that the Iron Curtain can be enhanced to protect against “more challenging threats” like the RPG-29 and RPG-32 ‘Hashim’ multipurpose anti-tank grenade launchers, which utilize dual warheads for penetrating tanks with explosive reactive armor. Iron Curtain should also be able to defend against ATGMs (Anti-Tank Guided Missiles), according to the company.
Since the shoot-down Iron Curtain Active Protection System is arranged like a shelf above and around the vehicle, the vehicle’s crew should be able to integrate it with passive armor systems like SLAT armor, also known as cage armor, or multi-threat passive/reactive add-on armo like Rafael’s M-TAPS (Multi-Threat Armor Protection Systems) vehicle armor. Right now, the best SLAT anti-RPG vehicular armor solution would appear to be BAE System’s LROD rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) protection kit cage armor system, since it’s made from aluminum rather than steel, it bolts onto the vehicle without welding or cutting, and it can be maintained and repaired in the field. First installed on the BAE RG31 and RG31A1 MRAP (Mine Resistant Ambush Protection) vehicles, LROD aluminum cage armor is much lighter in weight than steel SLAT armor, and every pound you can remove from a military combat vehicle counts, especially when it’s an already-very-heavy wheeled armored vehicle with high ground pressure.
It would seem from the company literature on it that Iron Curtain is more lightweight and low-cost than more well-known active protection systems like the IMI Iron Fist, Rafael/IMI Trophy and Raytheon Quick Kill active protection systems.
Company Contact Info:
Artis, LLC (Research Laboratories)
261 East Broadway
Salt Lake City, UT 84111
BAE’s LROD Cage Armor (Defense Industry Daily)
BAE Systems Delivers First Lightweight RPG Protection Kits for RG-31 (BAE Sytems Press Release)