The US Army is looking to protect lightly armored vehicles from missiles and lethal projectiles with an “iron curtain” that has been under development for more than a decade without being delivered to warfighters’ hands.
According to Popular Mechanics, the army is growing increasingly worried about the Russian Army’s Kornet-EM anti-tank guided missiles as well as Taliban fighters destroying vehicles with shoulder-fired rocket propelled grenades (RPGs). “Passive” protection in the form of more armor does not always work, the Army has learned.
Enter the Iron Curtain: the answer to RPG and anti-tank guided threats against the Army’s Humvees and Stryker armored personnel carriers.
“It’s amazing what an explosively-formed projectile can do to a 78-ton Abrams” battle tank, even with all of its armor, Major General John Charlton said in a December news release. Charlton is the commander of the Army’s Test and Evaluation Command.
The US’ Abrams main battle tanks rely on Israel’s “Trophy” protection system, which destroys incoming projectiles with a shotgun-like blast, but this systems won’t work for the Humvees and Strykers, the news outlet noted.
The Iron Curtain, by contrast, is an active system that detects threats approaching the vehicle and fires countermeasures directly up or down to prevent damage to troops and equipment.
The company behind the Iron Curtain, Artis, claims the system to be 100 percent effective.
Five years ago, Artis chief executive officer Keith Brendly told UPI, “after this latest round [of testing], where the system hit and killed 100 percent of the shots in a series of very demanding tests series, the only rational conclusion is that the system simply works… this system is… ready to integrate today.”
However, the protection system is still in the testing process roughly 13 years after the program reportedly started at DARPA, the mad science wing of the Pentagon. Here’s the Iron Curtain neutralizing an RPG at close range in a video… from 2009.
And, of course, putting a protection system onto a Humvee can’t quite protect it from everything — like, for example, gravity. The infamous “Humvee bomber,” who cut the parachute straps from three Humvees before letting them fly off the back of C-130 transport aircraft during a practice supply drop, was convicted last week for the 2016 incident.
It is unclear what tests the Iron Curtain has left to complete.