Despite Drought, Plasan Prepares for Future Demand Acquiring Control of US APS Developer Artis

Iron Curtain applied on a Ridgback MRAP type vehcile. Photo: Artis
Iron Curtain applied on a Ridgback MRAP type vehcile. Photo: Artis

Israel’s armor protection company Plasan announced today the acquisition of controlling interest in Artis LLC, a Virginia-based engineering company. Iron Curtain is a vehicle active protection system developed under a DARPA contract. The system has been demonstrated on live firing tests on the HMMWV and is currently being integrated on the M-ATV. Iron Curtain was one of seven systems demonstrated on live firing tests sponsored by the Office of Secretary of Defense (OSD). The system should be ready for production by the end of this year.

The Iron Curtain is designed to defeat shaped charge threats including projectiles, missiles and rockets. The sensors used to activate the system are C-Band radars detecting and tracking the inbound threat, alerting the crew and arming the APS. As the threat reaches a distance several inches from the vehicle, a distributed optical sensor classifies the threat to select the aimpoint and determines which countermeasure to fire.

Once triggered, the countermeasure unit explodes, sending a steel slab straight down, killing the threat with minimal collateral damage to personnel in the vehicle or in close proximity to it. During the DARPA tests Artis has demonstrated the system on a HMMWV, defeating RPG class threats fired at close range.

Designed to protect tactical vehicles with 360 degrees coverage, (the system can also be configured to protect the vehicle’s top area) the system offers multi-shot capability against a wide spectrum of threats. The combination of radar and optical sensors contribute to low false alarm rate. With low overall weight, Iron Curtain is compact and requires minimal internal space, thus making it an effective add-on protection for medium-heavy wheeled tactical vehicles, such as the HMMWV, MRAP or M-ATV, as well as the JLTV type vehicles. Iron Curtains’ ability to classify targets, along with its array of countermeasures enable it to effectively address new and emerging threats by evolutionary software changes. This level of flexibility will enable users to continuously customize their reaction to threat changes, as part of the protection systems upgrade, even between major armor upgrades.

The Artis acquisition is the latest in a series of moves by Plasan to consolidate its position as the leading developer of survivability solutions for tactical wheeled vehicles used in the defense and homeland security markets. Plasan’s recent efforts include Armored Chariots LLC, a joint venture with TPI Composites Inc. of Scottsdale, Arizona to produce next-generation crew compartments for U.S. military vehicles at a facility in Warren, Rhode Island.

In recent years Plasan has invested in a advanced technologies related to several applications of ballistic protection, including lightweight protection materials using nano materials and lightweight counter RPG protection using flexible structures. The acquisition of Artis positions the company in the field of yet another advanced protection technology, offering state of the art active protection solutions.

Iron Curtain defeats an RPG on a DARPA sponsored test. Photo: ARTIS

The common denominator of these investments is the demand for increasing protection while decreasing weight. With the acquisition of Artis Plasan remains focused on the core business of tactical vehicles, as the Artis developed solution pertains mostly to vehicles designed with vertical walls, where lines of active countermeasures firing downward surround the frame.