Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Defeating The Merkava Tank

There are many ways around a tank's active protection system (APS.) APS systems include the Israeli Trophy system. The trophy is mounted on the Merkava tank and the system makes it very difficult for RPGs and ATGMs to hit it.

The first method is to use ballistic shields on RPGs to deflect the APS projectiles. This would prevent the RPG from being destroyed before it hits the tank. The shield could be held in place would wood sticks and epoxy. This would break upon impact with a tank, detonating the RPG, but would not be broken by APS projectiles. The shield could be 6 millimeters thick.

A spaced armored shield may be more effective against Trophy's multiple explosive formed penetrators (MEFPs.) The first layer detonates the MEFP and the other layers absorb the blast and shaped charge. Three layers of steel 2mm thick each could work.

Animation of Trophy MEFP projectiles.

The Trophy APS uses a shield to protect the tank crew from the projectiles, so if the shield armor was thick enough it could work.

A similar option is to armor RPG rounds, preventing them from being destroyed before impact. The impact fuse on the RPG would be left unarmored.

Another novel method is to attach a decoy shell to the front of an RPG. This decoy would be hit by the active protection system projectiles and allow the real rocket to hit the tank. It could be placed on the RPG with ridged wire or wood sticks and be almost one meter in front of the RPG round. It would be lightweight so the trajectory of the round would still be fairly accurate.

Foil could be used as decoys as it reflects radar and is lightweight.

Putting two uneven fins or bars on each side of the RPG warhead would throw it off balance as it spun and cause it to have a twirling flight path. This may cause it to miss APS projectiles shot at it.

A low velocity RPG could be created to be launched out of a pneumatic "potato gun" constructed of simple PVC or metal. This would allow the RPG to travel below 70 meters per second, a blind spot on the APS radar. This would allow the RPG to hit the tank undetected by radar. Many APS system's minimum engagement speed is 70 meters per second, Trophy is likely similar.

Potato gun

A modified RPG to be fired out of a potato gun. A rubber ring in built on it to build air pressure. Modified fins are constructed as well. The rocket motor is removed.

A high velocity pneumatic gun could be constructed to fire steel dart kinetic impactors. These would not be able to be intercepted by the Trophy APS. Firing at speeds of 500+ meters per second it could potentially penetrate the hull of a Merkava tank.

High velocity propane "potato gun."

This bears similarity to tank fired APFSDS shells.

A "potato gun" launched carbon fiber RPG would be even more effective. Carbon fiber has a very low radar reflectivity, meaning it may not be sensed by the APS radar even if it was traveling above 70 meters per second. An internal metal structure would be needed for the explosives, but externally it would be almost 100% carbon fiber. It is better to launch it with a potato gun, as a traditionally launched RPG would still need to have metal parts, which reflect radar.

A large rocket could be mounted horizontally and launched at a tank. It could be up armored to withstand APS projectiles hitting it. The rocket's large amount of explosives would cause serious damage if it hit the tank.

A higher velocity dual launcher could be constructed out of a potato gun. One RPG could be fired one after the other. The first may be hit by the APS, but the second RPG would hit the tank. Three or four barrel versions could also be constructed.

Double barreled potato gun.

A four barreled potato gun. This would defeat trophy APS by saturating the system with RPGs.

A radio/radar jammer could be used with the correct frequency to render the APS useless. Trophy likely operates in the 20-30 Gigahertz range. The Russian Drozd APS operated at 24.5 GHz. This frequency could be broadcast back at the tank's radar with a radio antenna and allow RPGs and ATGMs to hit the tank while its radar is jammed.

Trophy Radar.

A way to jam radar is to fill a modified RPG with epoxy paint and aluminum strips to act as chaff. The RPG is designed to be detonated by the APS and it will coat the APS radar with epoxy and chaff, disrupting its radar signals. This would allow anti-tank missiles to hit the tank.

Parachutes and fins could be attached to RPGs to slow them below 70 meters per second and allow them to hit the tank undetected, as they would be flying too slow to detect. This would reduce the RPG's accuracy, however.

Another option is to attach "corner reflectors" to an RPG to increase its radar signature. The radar signature would be so large it may trick the APS into not engaging the RPG.

Corner radar reflectors. These could be easily manufactured.

RPGs could also be coated with radar absorbing material. Graphite or similar carbon compound could be suspended in epoxy and painted on an RPG. Alternating layers of graphite and sawdust could be used to increase the gigahertz frequency that is absorbed to 20 to 30 GHz. This is the Jaumann layer radar absorption method. Eight layers of absorbing material and eight of polyethylene, silicone or sawdust layers would be needed to absorb the correct wavelength. This layered slab would be about 40mm thick.

Magnetic radar absorbing material could also be constructed. Carbonyl Iron or graphite and ceramic powder could be mixed together in silicone or liquid rubber and applied to RPGs. This converts radar waves to heat.

A Pneumatic "mortar" that fires modified RPG rounds could be used as a top attack weapon on the Merkava tank. The Trophy APS can't engage targets coming in from overhead. This would be difficult to aim, however.

Remote control vehicles could be used to deliver shaped charged weapons and RPGs. A remote control car could drive up to a tank and detonate a large shaped charge warhead, avoiding the trophy active protection system. 

A remote control home made plane could be built to ram a tank with an RPG warhead. It would be traveling about 20 meters per second, so the Trophy APS radar would not sense it.

A way to blind the Merkava tank is to launch a projectile filled with paint and a small explosive charge to coat the tanks optics and sights. This would blind the tank and force the crew to abandon it. It could be launched from a higher velocity potato gun.

Modified or domestically produced RPGs could be made to resist the Trophy active protection system projectiles. The projectiles work by damaging the shaped charge liner and detonating the RPG. If the shaped charge liner was thicker the projectiles may not penetrate. Alternatively, C4 explosive could be used in modified RPGs. It takes a detonator with heat and electricity to detonate C4, so the Trophy APS would be unable to detonate the RPG.

A shaped charge "cannon" could be constructed to fire a shaped charge jet of copper about 50 meters. It would be large, with a shaped charge copper liner at least a few inches thick. It could be set up to hit  parked tanks, or it could be stationed like an IED waiting to ambush a tank in a preset area.

A DJI Phantom drone could be used to drop a small shaped charge on the roof of a Merkava tank turret. The charge could only weigh one pound. The turret roof is not well armored, and the APS can't reach vertically falling targets. It would likely not be sensed by the APS radar as it would be too slow.

The result of these methods.

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