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The active protection system ZASLON

The active protection system ZASLON was designed and developed by the Base Center for Critical Technologies Microtech in Kyiv. It is designed to protect stand-alone fixed or moving targets against antitank weapons of all types, including hand-held anti-tank grenade launchers, anti-armor projectiles, ATGW missiles, and armor-piercing and shaped-charge artillery rounds approaching their targets at 70 to 1,200 m/s. ZASLON detects incoming threats at shortest required ranges, provides enhanced countermeasures resistance, is almost ‘invisible’, and operates with a high degree of efficiency on the battlefield.

The active protection system ZASLON has modular architecture, which makes it suitable for integration with tanks of all types, light and heavyweight armored infantry fighting vehicles and also fixed installations, without the need for the host platform to be previously redesigned. Importantly, ZASLON does not add to the host platform’s overall dimensions, hence visual profile. The mass total of the system is a factor of the desirable protection level to be achieved, i.e., the number of protective modules used. For reliable protection, one armored fighting vehicle typically needs from three to six such modules to be installed, each containing two rounds of countermunition and weighing from 50 to 130 kg. In its configuration tailored to battle tanks, the system consists of a control panel housed in the tank turret, and several armored-shell modules, each containing two rounds of dedicated countermunition. Four such modules are arranged symmetrically on both sides in niches atop the tracks for concealment purposes. For detecting incoming threats, each round is fitted with a millimeter-wave radar sensor which continuously emits signals to 2.5m within an arc of 150o-180o in azimuth and -6o to +20o in elevation. Once a potential threat is detected, the system releases a dense cloud of fast-moving splinters in the trajectory path of the incoming threat, creating a 360o kill zone between the incoming threat and the host vehicle, while a backup munition is automatically deployed ready to fire once the first round is disposed of.

In contrast to rival active protection system designs featuring traverse launchers and using launched countermunitions (TROPHY, AWiSS and the like), the protective module ZASLON contains countermunitions that do not need to be fired in the direction of the incoming threat to disable it, which provides for the ZASLON a time advantage for responding to the incoming threat, and also enables it to intercept fast-moving targets. For example, response time for ZASLON is claimed to be 0.001- 0.005 second as compared to 0.07 second for Russia’s ARENA. Pressure or impulse from resulting blast wave makes the threat detonate or deflect its flight path such that the threat will miss the intended target. The splinters themselves are arranged in a dedicated container in such a way that, once being released, they are either ejected far away to a safe distance from the object under protection or may hit the vehicle’s core armor at very sharp angles, thereby reducing their own hitting power to the minimum and leaving the protected vehicle such as tank or armored personnel carrier virtually intact. ZASLON provides protection against ATGW weapons with diving trajectories.

The design also provides room for integration with an explosive reactive armor (ERA) system. ZASLON is also suitable for the protection of lightweight armored fighting vehicles. The system’s mission capability has already been proven for conventional armor-piercing projectiles and small-caliber anti-armor gun rounds. The lighter variant, designated ZASLON-L, consists of several nonrecoverable detachable modules of various kinds, with two accommodated on the armored vehicle’s upper forebody and as many mounted on its sides. The ZASLON-L is effective against RPG-7 and RPG-9 rounds, as well as ATGW missiles.