Armor: April 8, 2003


Russia has been very active in developing workable tank defenses against anti-tank guided missiles. But no one is buying. ARENA active protection system was developed in 1993 and is still looking for sales. The system uses a radar that covers 300 degrees around the tank (leaving a dead zone in the read). When the radar spots a anti-tank missile coming, one of several shotgun like devices on the tank fires, and damages the missile to the extent that it's shaped charge warhead does not work properly, or the missile misses entirely. There is also a cheaper passive system, SHTORA-1, that detects laser guidance beams hitting the tank and disrupts the laser guidance with flares or an aerosol cloud. The sales problem is mainly one of cost/benefit. An ARENA system weighs a little over a ton and costs over $200,000. The nations that are most in need of these systems, can't afford them. And the wealthier nations, like the U.S., have tanks that are already well armored and have not had bad experiences with expensive anti-tank missile systems. The passive systems are lighter and cheaper, but still not an impulse item. Meanwhile, the Russians are continuing work on these systems because they realize that, in the not-so-distant-future, they will be cost effective. Every year, cheaper and deadlier anti-tank missiles appear on the market. All it will take is a few U.S. M-1 tanks getting toasted by anti-tank missiles and the Russians will have more orders than they can handle. 


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