Armor improvements were one of the hottest
topics at Eurosatory 2006. Challenged with growing threats, armor
providers must design improved protection systems, while maintaining
the armor within the weight limits of existing combat vehicles.
Some improvements call for the use of lightweight armor protection,
including Boron Carbide and other ceramics that offer higher
protection levels at lower specific weight. The latest armor solutions
are providing impressive durability and multi-hit protection, and
offer modular design, to enable routine upgrading and quick field
repair of damaged modules. Further improvements have been introduced with
explosive reactive armor. The latest versions, such as those provided
by RAFAEL and IMI, employ Insensitive explosive sheets for
optimal operation against all types of shaped charges, and also allow
installation on relatively light platforms such as up-armored trucks.
Further advancements are introduced with
active protection systems demonstrated at Eurosatory by
IBD, in cooperation with Akers and
Thales. The most mature system is believed to be RAFAEL's
Trophy, currently undergoing testing with US Army Strykers and Israeli
Merkava tanks. The system could be ready for fielding within a year.
IMI's Iron Fist was shown with all its components, installed on a 4x4 VAB troop carrier modified by Elbit systems to demonstrate asymmetric
The modular Active Armor Concept (AAC) from IBD was displayed on the
CV90120, based on a design tailored
to this vehicle by Akers. Thales'
classified SHARK active protection system was not shown at the show,
but the general concept was described at the DGA display.
US and European truck manufacturers
responded to growing demands for improved protection of military
trucks by introducing modular armored cabs and retrofits, as well as new armored personnel carriers based on
commercially available light trucks. Among the exhibitors were US
truck makers International Trucks and Engines Corp., Oshkosh Trucks,
Stewart and Stevenson, recently merged within the Armor Holdings
group, and the UK based HMT (Supacat), newly acquired by Lockheed
Martin. European truck manufacturers and armor systems providers at
the show included the French Renault Defense Trucks, German KMW,
Rheinmetall Defense and Mercedes Benz, Tatra from the Czech Republic
and the Swiss company Mowag.
Protection of the
Humvee continues to be a hot topic, due to the wide
deployment of these vehicles and the vulnerability of the basic
platform. AM General is introducing new models designed
to carry twice the payload of the original vehicle, thus providing a
much improved capability for an add-on armor suit. Responding to the
growing demands, AM General is rolling out the up-armored Humvees
directly from its production line, or install the armor kits in the
field. Previously Armor Holdings performed these modifications.
With improved payload, the Humvee can mount additional protection for
the gunner. Two versions of
Gunner Protection Kits (GPK) were
displayed at Eurosatory, each weighing about 100 kg. The new GPK uses
transparent armor shields to provide the gunner with an unobstructed view
of the vehicle's surroundings. Armor protection kits designed for
almost every military truck were on display, indicating the prosperity
and growth of this market.
Panhard unveiled several new platforms, including a desert raiding
vehicle designated VAP, formerly known as the experimental desert
patrol vehicle. It is designed for long range patrols and deep
penetration raids. The vehicle is based on an unarmored version of the
Another armored vehicle introduced by Panhard is the
known as the Auverland A5. This air transportable armored vehicle is
designed as a command vehicle or for patrol missions. A special version
of AVL called Gavial was modified to meet German Army requirements.
Another armored command vehicle, the
Yak was modified specifically
as a command vehicle by Rheinmetall Landsysteme. This high mobility, armored 12
ton vehicle is based on the 6x6 multi-role Duro wheeled vehicle
chassis, fitted with interchangeable multi-purpose modules to fulfill
all Command Post (CP) functions. YAK is also built for German Army use.
New at Eurosatory 2006 was the wooden mock-up of the German
presenting a distinctive shape, impressive protection level and
innovative, modular design. GEFAS stands for "Geschuetztes Fahrzeug
System" or "Advanced Protected Vehicle system". This
powered vehicle is designed to provide high level of protection and
will be easily reconfigureable to accommodate various mission specific
modules. The basic protected vehicle displayed at Eurosatory
was configured for convoy protection, patrol and escort missions. It
with a remotely operated weapon station and fitted with a high level
of protection consisting of the basic armor suite for defeating small arms,
fragments, IEDs and mines. The vehicle will accommodate a crew of
four. Rheinmetall plans to have the first vehicle ready for field
demonstrations by the end of 2007.