BAE earlier unveiled a proposed upgrade version prototype for the British Army’s Challenger 2 Main Battle Tank, which includes the IMI Systems Iron Fist hard kill Active Protection System.
Using its sensing and response systems, the manufacturer says that the system identifies various incoming anti-tank missiles or armor-piercing threats launch or flight towards the vehicle and in a split second automatically intercepts them by a small interceptor launched in an accurate timing and a safe distance, and without involving the vehicle’s team while preventing collateral damage to the protected vehicle.
The system senses incoming threats via a fixed active electronically scanned array radar sensor and an optional passive infrared detector. When a threat is imminent, an explosive projectile interceptor is launched towards it. The interceptor explodes very near the threat, destroying or deflecting and destabilising it without detonating its warhead.
This project joins a series of companies and AFVs that integrate various Iron Fist APS configurations, such as the CV9035NL APC of the Swedish BAE Hagglunds for the Dutch Army, the American Bradley APE for the US Army, and a series of projects in Australia, Europe and of course in Israel.
In June 2016, the US Army chose Iron Fist Light to protect its light and medium armored vehicles as part of the Modular Active Protection System (MAPS) program. The decision to select Iron Fist was reportedly made because of the system’s light weight, ability to fire interceptors without shock, and low cost.
BAE systems say that Black Night comprises cutting-edge technologies and capabilities, which are being offered to the Ministry of Defence as part of the Challenger 2 Life Extension Programme.
Simon Jackson, Campaign leader for Team Challenger 2 at BAE Systems said:
“The UK is home to some of the world’s finest engineering companies, who have pushed the boundaries of combat vehicle design with Black Night.
We are providing the bulk of this upgrade from home soil, however, we have chosen the best defence companies from around the world to collaborate with also, including names from Canada, France and Germany who bring unique skills and proven technology. The British Army has our commitment that we will deliver the most capable upgrade possible, and the best value for money.”
The features touted by BAE include:
- Active Protection System – Systems allow the tank to detect incoming anti-tank missiles or armour penetrating rounds and automatically launches a counter-explosive to neutralise the threat.
- Laser Warning System – When targeted by enemy weapon systems, the tank can identify the source of the threat then automatically slew the gun to point at that source, making it quicker for the crew to counter-fire.
- Regenerative braking – The tank has been made more energy efficient by using less energy-hungry kit and installing regenerative braking in the turret, which generates power when the gun slows down into position.
- Thermal Imaging Technology – Front and rear infrared cameras (similar to those used in television programmes such as Planet Earth II) provide extremely sharp night imagery, helping troops identify potential threats and move undetected in hostile situations, while also shaving valuable seconds off reaction times.
- Accelerated fightability – New equipment controlling tank’s weaponry is faster, meaning the crew can identify an enemy, target and engage more quickly.
The Challenger 2 tank, built by BAE Systems in the 1990s, served in Bosnia, Kosovo and Iraq. BAE Systems is now leading the strategic partnership Team Challenger 2 bid to keep the tank battle-ready for the next twenty years, as part of the Ministry of Defence’s decision to extend the tank’s life until 2035.