Russia is claiming that the Afghanit active protection system (APS) mounted on Moscow’s powerful new T-14 Armata main battle tanks has been proven effective at intercepting depleted uranium-core armor-piercing fin-stabilized discarding sabot (APFSDS) cannon shells.
If Moscow’s claims are accurate, the new Russian active protection system would be a game-changing development in the realm of mechanized warfare. While active protection systems were thought to be effective mostly against incoming anti-tank missiles and rocket propelled grenades, most industry and defense experts had believed that active protection systems were ineffective against kinetic energy (KE) round such as the U.S. Army’s M829A4 120mm APFSDS. Thus, if the Russians have genuinely achieved a breakthrough in defeating KE anti-tank rounds, U.S. and NATO ground forces could face a very serious problem in the near future as the T-14 Armata family of combat vehicles becomes fully operational over the next several years.
The Russian-language news outlet Izvestia—citing a Russian Ministry of Defense source—has reported that the Afghanit APS has been successfully tested against incoming depleted uranium-cored APFSDS rounds flying at speeds of been 1.5km to 2km per second.
Currently KAZ “Afghani” is installed on T-14 tanks. the “Armata” platform will also be used as the basis of T-15 heavy infantry fighting vehicle.
KAZ “Afghans” – a complex electronic system that combines radar (RLS) with active phased array antenna processing subsystems, as well as mortars with special charges that, explode and send shrapnel that destroy in flight enemy weapons. The active protection on the T-14 Armata and T-15 can be seen as a typical tube-mortars.
Active protection, such as Russia’s “Arena” and “Blackbird” and the Israeli Trophy, do well with anti-tank missiles and rocket-propelled grenades. In particular, there is evidence that Palestinian militants in 2011 and failed to destroy a single tank “Merkava”, equipped with Trophy, – he told “Izvestia” historian Vladislav Belogrud tank building. – But the anti-tank ammunition and RPG order of magnitude easier target for KAZ than BPS. In particular, the anti-tank rocket speed about 300 m/s, and the product itself – it is actually a thin tube in the electronics, fuel and explosives inside, very vulnerable to debris undermined near CAS charge. BPS same – a monolithic steel structure, moreover, flying at a speed of 1.5-2 km/s.
Researcher Mikhail Barabanov, editor-in-chief of the Moscow Defense Brief—which is published by the Centre for the Analysis of Strategies and Technologies (CAST) in Russia—said that it would make sense for the Russian military to focus on the most likely threats that its armored vehicles would face in combat. “I think that the characteristics of the Armata’s APS is the big secret,” Barabanov said. “But it is unlikely [the Russian military] developed the new generation of APS without directing them toward the most common threats—uranium APFSDS and top-attack missiles.”
Michael Kofman, a research scientist specializing in Russian military affairs at the federally funded Center for Naval Analyses, said he is skeptical about the Izvestia report. “I don’t see it as realistic,” Kofman said. “A discarding sabot is a depleted uranium dart, the entire concept is that the material is incredibly dense to serve as a penetrator. The Afghanit APS uses a fragmentation charge and is not liable to do much to the A4—the latest variant—of U.S. munitions. I can see it possibly pushing the dart off course with some sort of hit-to-kill approach, but I doubt much can stop it—besides combinations of ERA [explosive reactive armor] and composite armor.”
The Armata series is currently in limited production and should become operational around 2019. “As I understand it, the MOD [Ministry of Defense] ordered 100 pre-series Armata family vehicles including the T-14 Armata, T-15 and ARV [armored recovery vehicle], which will be built from 2016 to 2018,” Barbanov said
There is a second contract for 70 ‘first series’ Armata vehicles (or roughly two battalions worth) with delivery expected ‘by the end of 2019.’
There could be an up-gunned 152mm variant Armata main battle tank or there will be more types of ammunition for the 125mm gun.