By Steve Soucek, Business Development Senior Director, HENSOLDT Inc. Land Systems
HENSOLDT Inc. is a leading supplier of defense and security electronics which have been pioneered, introduced, and fully fielded by HENSOLDT AG including the first Allied armored vehicle “soft kill” (SK) Active Protection System (APS), the Multi-Functional Self Protection System (MUSS), for use against guided weapons and other threats.
Over the years, the battlefield has seen the emergence of a large variety of anti-tank guided missiles and unguided rockets, rapidly evolving from simple first-generation wire guided missiles to Tube-launched, Optically-tracked, Wire-guided (TOW) anti-tank missiles and more recently modern beam-riding, third-generation fire-and-forget, and top-attack missiles capable of defeating passive and add-on armor and destroying targets with tandem warheads. This proliferation of Anti-tank Guided Missiles (ATGM), capable of being launched from a variety of mounted platforms and dismounted troops now equals or surpasses threats posed to a tank from conventional tank-fired projectiles and munitions. This situation necessitated a paradigm shift in Armored Fighting Vehicle (AFV) protection and spurred development of new technologies within Size, Weight, and Power (SWaP) limitations to enable APS. These systems utilize electronic sensors to detect and track incoming direct-fire ATGMs and High-explosive Anti-tank (HEAT) munitions not to mention laser and directed energy threats, defeating them by launching countermeasures to jam, deflect, or destroy threats. These APS are changing the calculus by enhancing AFV protection without significantly impacting vehicle SWaP.
HENSOLDT’s core competence has been to recognize a wide range of threats and provide practical, optimized solutions to improve the safety and operational effectiveness of ground combat vehicles and other military platforms. HENSOLDT’s MUSS evolved in parallel to become what is now the most advanced in-service, cost effective, and practical solution to improve the survivability of Main Battle Tanks (MBT), Infantry Fighting Vehicles (IFV), and Armored Personnel Carriers (APC) or Combat Support platforms.
MUSS® is a SK sensor and effector-based APS with fully Passive Detection (PD), delivering a key protection layer against ATGMs and laser (guided) threats. The system is comprised of three segments including the on board processor; passive sensor modules, each or which includes a missile warner (MW) and laser warner (LW); and two countermeasures – a 360 degree rotatable Infrared (IR) jammer and Directable Smoke Dispenser (DSD). The system is a modular, flexible, easy to install, cost-effective solution. The modular Open System Architecture (OSA) makes it easy to customize configurations for specific vehicle ergonomics and operations by combining selected sub-systems to deliver desired performance. MUSS is an in-service system fitted on the SPz PUMA, the most modern IFV of the German Bundeswehr Armored Infantry Brigades. MUSS was designed to be the APS solution for the PUMA; but, can be easily adapted to meet other platform and mission requirements. HENSOLDT’s tailored approach also includes continuous product improvement to meet the supported Allied customer’s evolving needs and requirements.
Key product differentiators:
- Modular and scalable system for different vehicle types (wheeled and tracked) and missions/ operational requirements against multiple threats for vehicle protection;
- Proven and highly cost-effective solution;
- Reduced Size, Weight and Power (SWaP) and continuous protection advantages over HK APS;
- Undetectable, jam-proof; continuous replenishable electronic countermeasures
- No collateral damage to host vehicle, other platforms, dismounted troops, or local area;
- Easy to integrate, loosely coupled OSA (no significant alteration/ degradation of platform);
- Complementary and can be used with traditional HK APS; however, HK APS requires reloading and only protects against certain threats, not rocket propelled grenades (RPGs);
- MUSS system roadmap includes interfaces to HK effectors along with improved laser jamming & dazzling, tracking & confirmation sensors, etc. as well SWaP-C improvements;
- MUSS interfaces into Command and Control (C2), Situational Awareness (SA), Reconnaissance and Surveillance, and Targeting systems.
Some key drivers influencing the use of APS:
- No degradation or adverse impact to operational capabilities and provide 360-degree coverage to address all angles of arrival of threats including top attack munitions;
- Capable of detection, tracking, and neutralization of multiple threats including ATGMs of all types, chemical energy (CE), and kinetic energy (KE) projectiles simultaneously;
- No resultant collateral damage by deployment of countermeasures to crew/other dismounted personnel, soft-skinned vehicles, optical & optronics devices, and other soft points of the vehicle;
- Minimum SWaP specifications and components should not displace existing combat loads with no additional environmental or electromagnetic interference (EMI) impact;
- Components should not enlarge vehicle profile, block or impede access, or functioning of any existing sensors, hatches, ports, observation devices, etc.;
- Cost effectiveness is a key driver with initial and life cycle costs optimized
- Modular OSA and ease of integration for additional systems, sensors, and countermeasures as required for operational missions, emerging threats, levels of protection.
Vehicle APS can be broadly classified into SK and HK systems. SK prevent incoming threats from accurately targeting the vehicle, whereas HK systems are designed to use direct fire, kinetics, fragmentation, and/ or explosives to destroy, deflect, and degrade incoming projectiles. Some key differentiators between SK and HK include the nature of sensors used to detect and track threats – passive versus active, the type of countermeasures deployed and effects to neutralize the threat, and persistence in a combat environment. Both systems defeat the threat before impact, SK by electro-optics (EO) jamming (or laser dazzle) or with obscuration, and HK systems by deploying countermeasures using kinetics, Multiple Explosively-Formed Projectiles (MEFPs), etc. to address threats. Major challenges with technological readiness and maturity of HK systems, integration constraints, and operational restrictions, coupled with logistical and persistence issues, are causing armed forces worldwide to realize the need for scalable and modular solutions with potential to be configured depending on platform limitations and operational imperatives.
MUSS can be the solution to answer that need.