Defensionem – The War Bible https://defensionem.com Defensionem - The WarBible covers conflicts and weapon systems to aviation. Defensionem - The WarBible is run by veterans, journalists, military authors and also enthusiasts. Mon, 21 Sep 2020 19:24:12 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.5.1 Tu-22M3M: Modernisation of a Cold War bomber https://defensionem.com/tu-22m3m-modernisation-of-a-cold-war-bomber/ https://defensionem.com/tu-22m3m-modernisation-of-a-cold-war-bomber/#respond Mon, 21 Sep 2020 19:24:11 +0000 https://defensionem.com/?p=31172 Tu-22M3M: Modernisation of a Cold War bomber. The Tu-22M3 is getting bumped to the Tu-22M3M standards. The RuAF currently operates 60 Tu-22M3 (upgraded Tu-22M). Half of those (30) are currently queuing up for yet another upgrade. And the first one of those has left the assembly lines already.The Tu-22M3 has a maximum range of 6,800km, […]

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Tu-22M3M: Modernisation of a Cold War bomber. The Tu-22M3 is getting bumped to the Tu-22M3M standards. The RuAF currently operates 60 Tu-22M3 (upgraded Tu-22M). Half of those (30) are currently queuing up for yet another upgrade. And the first one of those has left the assembly lines already.The Tu-22M3 has a maximum range of 6,800km, can reach Mach 1.8 and can embark 24 tons of bombs or missiles (Depending on distance to target). That’s a maximum of 10 missiles or 69 bombs depending on which ordnance is selected. The Tu-22M3 is flexible enough and can be used in both tactical and strategic roles such as carpet bombing, dropping naval mines or launching long-range cruise missiles or anti-shipping missiles.What does this new M3M standard bring to the Backfire? Well, a new radar (NV-45), a new navigation and communication suite and a new glass cockpit. In fact, the Backfire will receive the same avionics suite as the newly upgraded Tu-160M2.It also comes fitted with the NVP-24-22 bombsight/targetting system which (in theory) enables the plane to use dumb bombs with an accuracy roughly equivalent to JDAMs.The upgraded Backfire also gets new engines that should extend its range. Those engines are the same as the ones fitted on the new Tu-160M2, also (NK-32-02). This means that Backfire and Blackjack will from now on share a lot of parts in common, which should streamline maintenance and logistics.

The Tu-22M3 was originally a long-range strategic and maritime strike bomber. It was primarily designed for engaging American Aircraft Carrier Groups with powerful stand-off AshMs (Anti-Ship Missiles). But it was also capable of delivering a nuclear strike on land. The SALT (Strategic Arms Limitation) talks that led to the signing of the ABM and START treaties also led to the Backfire to have its aerial refueling probe removed. As such, under the New Start Treaty, the Backfire was reclassified as a Tactical Bomber, rather than as a Strategic (long range/nuclear capable) one. With the modernisation program and the subsequent new M3M standard, it seems the Backfires are being retrofitted with an aerial probe again. Add to this the avionics, sensor suite and targeting systems which are identical to the ones found in the Tu-160M2 and give them the capability of handling the same array of weapon platforms as the Blackjack and it seems that the Tu-22M3M might be reclassified as the intercontinental bomber it once was…

The Tu-22M3M also receives the ability to carry and fire the Kh32 AshM/cruise missile. This is an interesting piece of hardware that was designed specifically to target Aegis Combat System equipped vessels. The Kh-32 is an evolution of the older Soviet Kh-22. The Kh-22 was specifically designed to take on US aircraft carriers and was capable of punching a 22 square meter hole in a hull and penetrate a ship’s various bulkheads and compartments to a depth of 12 meters!

The Kh-32 has a range of 600 miles and can travel at Mach 4.5! This enormous missile (almost 7 tons, 12 meters long and with a wingspan of about 3 meters) relies on sheer speed and brute force to punch through a fleet’s defence. The Kh-32 has 2 flight mode: Sea Skimming or high altitude flight (40km / 130,000 feet) with a terminal top attack where the missile dives almost vertically onto its target. Both modes are designed to maximise the chance of a successful hit on target (reduced chances of interception). The Kh-32 has a terminal velocity of 800 meters per second, too fast, in theory, to be intercepted by the SM-6 missile.

Tu-22M3M: Modernisation of a Cold War bomber
Kh-22/Kh-32

The Tu-22M3M has also been tested with the Kinzhal hypersonic missile. The Kh-47M2 Kinzhal is a nuclear-cappable Air Launched Cruise Missile. It has a range of roughly 2,000km and a maximum speed of Mach10. The Kinzhal has been successfully tested on modified MiG-31 (MiG-31K). But while the Foxhound can carry one Kinzhal, the Backfire is capable of carrying 4 of those! The bomber also has a range advantage against the interceptor (6,800km compared to 1,250km).

Tu-22M3M: Modernisation of a Cold War bomber
Kh-47M2

Finally, this upgrade enables the Tu-22M to see its service life being extended by 35 years. Long enough for Tupolev and Moscow to delay the design and manufacture of the future PAK DA several times over. The PAK DA is a stealth strategic bomber dreamed up by Tupolev and meant to enter service in the RuAF by 2025. Considering that the first prototype hasn’t been built yet, you can bet it won’t enter service before 2035 at the earliest. In the meantime, Russia’s updated Tu-160M2 and Tu-22M3M will have to keep on flying the flag.

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Mediterranean Tension! https://defensionem.com/mediterranean-tension/ https://defensionem.com/mediterranean-tension/#respond Thu, 10 Sep 2020 22:38:56 +0000 https://defensionem.com/?p=31141 France, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Greece, Cyprus, and Malta held an EU Southern Summit today. The focus was on Turkish activity in the eastern Mediterranean. Once the session ended, they issued a statement: “Joint statement of the EU Southern Summit: We are ready to draw up a list of sanctions against Turkey unless it backs down […]

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France, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Greece, Cyprus, and Malta held an EU Southern Summit today. The focus was on Turkish activity in the eastern Mediterranean. Once the session ended, they issued a statement: “Joint statement of the EU Southern Summit: We are ready to draw up a list of sanctions against Turkey unless it backs down from its unilateral actions.”

Some interesting quotes/points.

France; France accused Turkey of “playing a game of domination and control in the Mediterranean.” France also called on Turkey to stop drilling in the Mediterranean and exporting weapons to Libya.

Cyprus; Cyprus accused Ankara of violating the sovereignty of two European countries, Cyprus and Greece, and also stated that “we will use all tools to confront the illegal Turkish measures related to the exploration operations in our territorial waters.”

Greece; agreed on the strategy against Turkey. An end to the “provocations” was demanded. The Greek government declared “Greece is not alone”.

Turkey on the summit; “The Greek side is not ready for a sincere dialogue with us. The agreement between Egypt and Greece harms the interests of Turkey and its maritime rights.” Pictured shows a tweet from Fahrettin Altun, the Turkish Communications Director.

Greece and France have also agreed on a “strategic partnership,” and that they were in “complete agreement” regarding Turkey.

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Indo – China Border Standoff Update. How the meeting between the Two Ministers is Futile https://defensionem.com/indo-china-border-standoff-update-how-the-meeting-between-the-chinese-indian-defence-minister-is-futile/ https://defensionem.com/indo-china-border-standoff-update-how-the-meeting-between-the-chinese-indian-defence-minister-is-futile/#respond Sun, 06 Sep 2020 10:50:12 +0000 https://defensionem.com/?p=31118 Some context into the recent meeting held between the Chinese and Indian Defence minister in Moscow. While the Indian Defence Minister is a frontline politician and member of the CCS (Cabinet Committee on Security), his Chinese counterpart is a 4-star general and an ordinary member of the CMC (Central Military Commission). Wei (Chinese DM) is […]

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Some context into the recent meeting held between the Chinese and Indian Defence minister in Moscow.

While the Indian Defence Minister is a frontline politician and member of the CCS (Cabinet Committee on Security), his Chinese counterpart is a 4-star general and an ordinary member of the CMC (Central Military Commission). Wei (Chinese DM) is like the Indian Chief of Defence Staff, without the kind of access and influence that the CDS has in the Indian national security establishment.

Unlike the Westminster system where a Minister of a Ministry is the top tier leadership, in China, it works a little differently. You can have a Minister in charge of a Ministry but he is not inside the Politburo. This means that his words do not have as much weight.

Wie is not a member of the Chinese Politburo.

Wie is not a member of the Chinese Politburo. Hence, his visit and meeting with the Indian DM had some purpose after all.

Defensionem assesses that they sent a non-politburo member to discuss because they don’t want to be seen as giving in to the Indians. Decisions made by a lower member can be discarded if things do not favour China. General Wei will go for the meeting, essentially agree to nothing, and then go home to advise the Politburo to let them decide.

We have assessed that there have been a vast number of meetings ever since the frictions have kicked off. The meetings started at the Divisional Commander level, then at the theatre command level.

However, the outcome of the meetings wasn’t significant. However, a substantial disengagement took place when a direct phone-call conversation took place between the Indian National Security Advisor, Ajit Doval, and the Chinese FM, Wang Yi. Doval is known to be a very close aid of Indian Prime Minister, Modi.

The disengagement took place at the Finger 4, Pangong Tso, which was a primary point of friction.

Defensionem has also assessed that the current Brigadier level talks are taking place to sort out the district-level Issues at Pangong. A similar set of meetings took place post 15th June clash to sort out the aftermath of Galwan clash.


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Put your SOKS on! https://defensionem.com/put-your-soks-on/ https://defensionem.com/put-your-soks-on/#respond Tue, 01 Sep 2020 16:59:30 +0000 https://defensionem.com/?p=31073 Put your SOKS on! SOKS stands for System Obnarujenia Kilvaternovo Sleda. It is a non-acoustic wake/submarine detection system.The SOKS sniffs the water in search of radioactive particles the size of atoms as well as checking it for changes in its refractive index and chemical composition. SOKS is not one sensor but rather a suite of […]

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Put your SOKS on! SOKS stands for System Obnarujenia Kilvaternovo Sleda. It is a non-acoustic wake/submarine detection system.The SOKS sniffs the water in search of radioactive particles the size of atoms as well as checking it for changes in its refractive index and chemical composition. SOKS is not one sensor but rather a suite of various sensors working together.

A nuclear submarine cooling system will often leave a faint trail of radioactivity in its wake. Similarly, it will release traces of various metals (zinc, nickel and so on) coming from its pipes. Furthermore, the water released by the reactor’s cooling system will be warmer than the ambient water temperature… Finally, a submarine, when traveling through water, will “stir” that body of water, creating millions of miniature air bubbles, therefore changing the density of the water. All those traces can remain behind a submarine for hours, creating a trail of some sort. The SOKS basically is made up of several instruments measuring those parameters.

Put your SOKS on!
Put your SOKS on!

In theory, this will help a Soviet/Russian submarine follow the trail left by other (NATO) nuclear submarines. The Soviets operationally used SOKs for the first time in the late 1960’s. Ironically, it seems the Soviets researched and developed SOKS because their passive sonars at the time were of mediocre quality. Nowadays, with modern electronics and modern technology, the Russians have been able to improve on both sonar and SOKS technologies.

Does it work and is it accurate ? Well, info is lacking on this subject… The Russians, usually more than happy to share data on their latest weapon platforms do not share much about this system in particular. A lot of it is classified but it seems that their brand new Yasen class submarines have been equipped with the SOKS system, too…

The Russians, however, are not the only ones using such a system, it seems: On the 8th of May 2019, a British sub was spotted with a Wake Detection System, too: British sub HMS Talent arrived in Gibraltar sporting a brand new Wake Detection System of its own.

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Al Khalid: Pakistan’s Armored Fist https://defensionem.com/al-khalid-pakistans-armored-fist/ https://defensionem.com/al-khalid-pakistans-armored-fist/#respond Mon, 31 Aug 2020 18:51:43 +0000 https://defensionem.com/?p=31062 The Al Khalid series is Pakistan’s most modern and capable tank in its inventory.

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Background:

The Al Khalid series is Pakistan’s most modern and capable tank in its inventory. Pakistan, wishing to acquire a more modern armored force, agreed to jointly co develop and produce a tank, loosely based on the Chinese Type-90 with China in late 1990. Pakistan began building a new tank factory in 1992 with the aim to produce the tank as soon as development was complete. With the assistance of China and Ukraine, the joint effort began designing and testing with anticipated deliveries set for the early 2000’s timeframe. This ambitious project officially turned into reality in 2001, with the first production variants coming on line for the Pakistani Army. The design requirements are predicated on the need for Pakistan to possess parity with the Indian Army and also potential threats from their western border. In this requirement, the vehicle must offer lethal direct fires and possess tactical mobility which the Army needs in order to rapidly implement defensive operations as a result of Pakistan lacking critical strategic geographical depth.

Al Khalid Tank

The design is intended to make up for Pakistan’s financial constraints and is therefore based off of proven and well sourced end item components. Further, the design was focused on operating in extremely harsh and hot environments found in Pakistan’s desert and border region with India. Special attention was paid to sustainment costs associated with operational use. This was due to the fiscal factors that it would not be procured in bulk to equip the entirety of the Army’s tank units. The design was to be modular in nature and be able to take advantage of the lineage of its design, such as with its origins in Chinese tank design, as well as with Russian tank designs. The design parameters were for a 3 man crew with an engine power turn out at a base of 1,200 hp. It was to weigh no more than 50 tons and must retain commonality with in use inventories and production lines, found in service with other programs. This provides for sustained logistics chain and vendor options externally, if organic means of production were to be interrupted. Lastly, Pakistan selected it’s in service 125mm main gun with domestic production of ammunition and barrel, which is based off of a modified Chinese origin.

 Program Vision and Overview:

The Al Khalid will remain in Pakistani service for years to come and will be supplemented by the Chinese VT4, itself a further evolution of the Chinese Type 90 and Al Khalid tank family. The Al Khalid and its improved version, has a design that places significant attention towards tactical mobility and firepower and is designed to counter rapid armored attacks from regional ground based threats, notably found in the Cold Start Doctrine. Further, modern communication equipment, to include real time data links, have been installed, to provide for a robust C2 interface for tank units. The tank was designed to deliver lethal and accurate fire at a range estimated at 2,000 meters with its main gun and out to an estimated 5,000 meters with its tube launched AT11 origin ATGM. The Al Khalid is not intended to serve purely as an armor stop gap option, it is intended, as well as improved models, to serve as the mainstay of the force, with incremental changes and production, which will over time, modernize and replace obsolescent tanks currently in service. The industrial growth for its State owned company, Heavy Industries Taxila, requires continued orders which will allow for more enhanced and modernized vehicles to be designed and procured. The ultimate goal for the program is to reinforce and strengthen domestic self-reliance and production capability. The design is capable of being deployed and transported by rail, sea, waterway and road modes of transportation. It has a top end weight of 47 tons. The vehicle is designed to be survivable against current direct fire weapon systems and operate in CBRN environments.  

Lethal formations:

The tank possess digital automotive functions to support training, mission preparation and execution, which facilitate tactical employment. The tank possesses situational awareness and target acquisition capabilities to orient and deliver direct fires on enemy forces. The tank employs a battle management system and has the ability to receive data downloads from aerial assets in a non-contested environment.  Pakistani armored doctrine focuses on rapid deployments to occupy battle positons. The vehicle can also provide direct support to infantry units with its 125mm main gun by using HE-Frag munitions. The tank also possesses sufficient thermals and a fire control system that allows for engagements in all weather conditions and while on the move. It is estimated to possess DRI capabilities, with identification ranges rated at or around 5km on the newest models as a result of improved capabilities gain through foreign assistance.

 Due to the electronics, fire control system and thermal viewing capability of vehicle, Defensionem assesses that the tank will provide lethal direct fires against armored threats at ranges in excess of 2,000 meters. The vehicle uses a 125mm smoothbore cannon that can fire all indigenous, Chinese and some Soviet bloc rounds, as well as tube launched ATGM’s. The standard anti-armor round is a depleted uranium sabot round, commonly known as the Naiza, which is made by the state owned National Defense Complex, the primary provider of Pakistan’s depleted uranium munitions. This specific round was initially developed for use by Pakistan in their Ukrainian imported T-80UD models. This round has similarities to aforementioned former Soviet bloc munitions, notably the 3BM48 Svinets, and is assessed as being a close variant made by Pakistan. It is deemed probable that the round is equivalent to the 3BM48, with modifications made to the penetrator rod, alloys, as well as propellant for better ballistic performance. Engagement ranges with this round are assessed as being under 2,000m against modern tanks with composite and reactive armor. Engagement ranges towards an enemy side or rear are likely to obtain more favorable results and at greater distances. Subsequently, an improved round, with different design features is currently in the works and is anticipated to be based on Chinese designs associated with their Type 99 series.   

Al Khalid Tank with side skirts and APS system.

Vehicle Vulnerability Analysis

Defensionem assess via use of a fault tree analysis that cover the main subsystems that, if damaged or destroyed, would cause a communication, mobility, lethality, or catastrophic kill. These types of kills are defined below.

Communications Kill

The vehicle experiences a communications-kill if it is damaged to the extent that it cannot transmit or receive information by its electronic communication equipment, and the damage is not repairable by the crew on the battlefield within 10 minutes. The Al Khalid benefits from employing an integrated communication system that is mounted under the turret’s ballistic protection. The probability of a communications kill occurring is rated as low. Standard vulnerability to radio antennas are present and communication attachments mounted on the turret roof.  

Mobility Kill

The vehicle experiences a mobility-kill if the damage causes the vehicle to be incapable of performing any of the mobility requirements of its assigned mission, and the damage is not repairable by the crew on the battlefield within 20 minutes. The Khalid series is designed with an APS system and has ERA applied. Further models have side skirts with ballistic tendencies. The tank is equipped with anti-missile jammers and other self-defense sub systems that further aid in mitigating enemy anti-tank missiles. These factors decrease the probability of a mobility kill. Probability is rated as moderate, as a result of the vehicle possessing a moderate coverage of ERA along the front and sides, as well as limited ballistic skirt protection.

Armor design scheme of platform family of vehicles

Lethality Kill

The vehicle experiences a lethality-kill if the damage causes the vehicle to be incapable of performing any of the lethality requirements of its assigned mission, and the damage is not repairable by the crew on the battlefield within 10 minutes. The Khalid serieshas a 125mm cannon and also a 12.7mm weapon system. Due to the lighter weight of the vehicle and limited armor along the gun mount, the vehicle, has inherently more vulnerability along its frontal portions of the turret compared to most modern vehicles. The design does not employ an integrated armor protection scheme along the gun mantle, increasing vulnerability. The chances of a lethality kill occurring is assessed as moderate and trends high in earlier variants. Further, due to the lighter weight of the turret, which absorbs direct fire impacts, dissipating the transferred energy, critical components such as the FCS and or gunners sights are deemed at higher than normal risk to damage, especially to its bi axis and dual gyro stabilization components. While the tank also employs a hydraulic turret with aux pump, the smaller size of the turret and ballistic protection for the pump remain vague, it is therefore assessed that lethality kills can occur, as with most tanks with this design lineage, if hit by non KE rounds within the quadrant locating either the main gun or the aux pump.

It is unknown if the vehicle has auxiliary power unit for extended use, but according to technical specifications, there does not seem to be an increase of stowage on the chassis or turret for one. Therefore it is deemed as unlikely. The loss of the battery compartment will also enable a lethality kill. The 12.7mm weapon station is mounted, elevated and suffers from the standard risk of damage from fragments, small arms fire or a main gun rounds impacting. Additionally, the weapon station is mounted in front of the Tank Commander, affording the crew member some level of protection while repairing and or reloading the machine gun. The probability of the secondary weapons being damaged is deemed moderate to high.

Catastrophic Kill (K-kill)

The vehicle suffers a catastrophic-kill if the damage is so extensive that the vehicle is not economically repairable. Items carried on-board the vehicles whose detonation or ignition could result in catastrophic damage would be items such as ammunition, fuel, oil, fluids, etc. The Al Khalid series has a mixed layer of protection, with several approaches to mitigate risk. The tank’s basic armor is made of steel, with composite armor and ERA added to the protection scheme. Additionally, the Khalid has an APS integrated and fit to the vehicle. The modular armor package consists a layered application of steel platesencapsulating composite armor, which absorbs and reduces penetration. This package can also be changed out under battlefield conditions. The overall armor package is complemented by an internally hardened wall to further reduce penetration effects. Further, due to the design, the tank presents a smaller silhouette further aiding in protection.

As a result of the smaller turret design, the armor protection scheme will need to be augmented with additional armor to compensate for the smaller design

Another survivability and defense component of the vehicle is its integrated warning system that alerts the crew to being targeted and provides counter measures for employment. Future variants are anticipated to employ Chinese armor designs and feature a layered, semi wedge like front, as it is expected that the armor protection scheme is modeled after the Chinese and their Type-99 series tank. The Khalid’s use of modular armor presents a significant survivability concern, as the modular package does not offer significant protection to the flanks and to the gun mantle. Due to the small design of the turret, the requirement for additional supplemental armor is critically needed and afforded through the addition of an ERA package, developed in Pakistan, and assessed as being equivalent to Kontak-5 ERA with local modifications for specific use. Assessing the detailed production schematics of the vehicle and the ERA packages, it is also further concluded that the design most likely originates from Soviet era pedigree. Additionally, as with all mounted armor modules.  They must be fitted into pre manufactured positions and are not integrated as a single package. This causes a lower collective resistance to any penetrating munition, as the entirety of the package consists two separate components. Due to the dimensions of the turret design and analysis of its weight, Defensionem estimates the Al Khalid and the initial improved variant, has an estimated RHA equivalency of close to 560mm over the frontal arch of the turret. The operational environment found in Pakistan consists of wide flat deserts, with intermediate IV lines and depressions, to more constricted terrain north towards Lahore. Due to the large population in relation to small geographical space, ground transit options will be further restrictive, more so if the population needs to displace due to an oncoming enemy force. These factors also play into the likely employment of the vehicle. The design focused on tactical mobility with a low silhouette, while being armed with sufficient firepower. It is probable that the tank can reach some levels of parity with Indian armor vehicles and is likely to be superior to Iranian armor vehicles. Engagement scenarios further lead to speculation on how terrain and coordination with other Army formations would play out. Assessing the totality of the circumstances, this tank is meets the technical requirements laid out by the Pakistani Army and supports Pakistan’s defense industrial growth.

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JF-17: Chinese skin, Russian DNA https://defensionem.com/jf-17/ https://defensionem.com/jf-17/#respond Mon, 31 Aug 2020 16:56:46 +0000 https://defensionem.com/?p=31079 JF-17: Chinese skin, Russian DNA. From Izdeliye-33/project-33 to JF-17/FC-1. In the early-1980’s, the Soviets already had a High/Low mix of fighters to take on the American F-16/F-15 duo: The Fulcrum and the Flanker. But the creation of a simpler, cheaper, single-engined platform nevertheless represented an attractive proposition. The Mikoyan Design Bureau (MiG) therefore started working […]

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JF-17: Chinese skin, Russian DNA. From Izdeliye-33/project-33 to JF-17/FC-1. In the early-1980’s, the Soviets already had a High/Low mix of fighters to take on the American F-16/F-15 duo: The Fulcrum and the Flanker. But the creation of a simpler, cheaper, single-engined platform nevertheless represented an attractive proposition. The Mikoyan Design Bureau (MiG) therefore started working on such a design under the codename Izdeliye-33, taking as a starting point the MiG-29 platform. Mikoyan never went as far as building a prototype, but they drew detailed blueprints and thoroughly tested a mock-up in a wind tunnel, refining the overall design in the process.

Unfortunately for MiG, the Soviet Union lost interest in the endeavour and cut off funding for the project in 1986. Mikoyan had no other choice but to abandon the MiG-33E adventure for good in 1988.

JF-17: Chinese skin, Russian DNA
JF-17: Chinese skin, Russian DNA

Fast forward to 1995 and both Pakistan and China are trying to work on what would become the JF-17: A cheap, simple, single engine fighter jet. But Pakistan is on the receiving end of American economic sanctions, and China finds it hard to find partners to help it develop its new plane: The Western world turned its back on Beijing after the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests were put down by the Chinese military. As a result, Islamabad and Beijing decided to join forces and try and create a common platform together.

And what did the Chinese do ? They first paid MiG a fee to lease some of their engineers so they could go to China and assist their Chinese counterparts in the design of this new plane. Then, in 1998, the Chinese went one step further and purchased the Project-33 blueprints and test data (from the mock-up wind tunnel tests) from Mikoyan.

Fast forward to 2003 and the JF-17 Thunder/FC-1 Xiaolong flew for the first time. The JF-17 might be presented as a Sino-Pakistani platform, its avionics might be all Chinese and its targeting pods might be Turkish… But scratch under the surface and you will find Soviet/Russian DNA (and fingerprints) all over! Even the WS-13 Taishan engine is an improved Chinese copy of the Soviet RD-93 Turbofan engine.

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Operation Atrina: The real Hunt for Red October https://defensionem.com/operation-atrina-the-real-hunt-for-red-october/ https://defensionem.com/operation-atrina-the-real-hunt-for-red-october/#respond Mon, 31 Aug 2020 16:44:14 +0000 https://defensionem.com/?p=31075 Operation Atrina: The real Hunt for Red October. From 1945 onward, both the Americans and the Soviets started incorporating German-inspired technology into their own submarine designs. The Soviets, in true Soviet fashion, started mass producing new submarine classes. The Americans lagged behind in production output but made sure to study German sonar arrays (passive and […]

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Operation Atrina: The real Hunt for Red October. From 1945 onward, both the Americans and the Soviets started incorporating German-inspired technology into their own submarine designs. The Soviets, in true Soviet fashion, started mass producing new submarine classes. The Americans lagged behind in production output but made sure to study German sonar arrays (passive and active) and hydrophones… The US Navy fielded less subs, but they were quieter and had much better “ears”! The USN retained this qualitative edge for most of the Cold War. The Soviet Navy fielded many submarines, often noisy and with sub-par sensors, but fast, able to dive deeper than their Western counterparts and highly automated. The Americans fielded less machines, but of much higher quality, silent, equipped with world beating sensor suites and manned by professionals.

That could have been it… However… While Soviet shipyards churned out submarines at a terryfing rate, the quality of said submarines also improved gradually as time went by: Introduced in the late 1970’s, the Shchuka (Victor III) nuclear powered attack submarines were much quieter than previous Soviet subs… Moscow had high hopes for those and in March 1987, the Soviet Navy launched Operation Atrina: 5 Victor III belonging to the 33rd submarine division of Polyarnyy put to sea at once. They first triggered the SOSUS line near the UK then vanished! Both Washington and London were alarmed: Why would Moscow simultaneously deploy 5 of its best submarines?! A massive Western ASW response was triggered: 1 British aircraft carrier (HMS Hilustrious) and several other RN vessels alongside RAF Nimrods, 3 USN aircraft carriers and 6 USN attack submarines were all deployed in search of the red submarines.

The Brits and Americans first looked for the Soviet subs near the Mediterranean entrance before realising they were actually crossing the Atlantic! Never had the Soviets dared to deploy en-force near the US East Coast since the Cuban missile crisis! What were the Soviet doing? Well, they wanted to test two theories: One, they wanted to know if their best submarines could evade pursuit after having been detected. They also wanted to test the theory that American boomers were hiding in the Sargasso Sea. It took the British and the Americans 8 days to find 4 out of the 5 Victors. During that time, the British Nimrods used an entire year worth of sonobuoys supply!

What about the 5th Victor, then? Well, it depends on who you ask… The British say they eventually found it. They say it was better maintained and much better sailed than the other four. The Soviet captain was also bolder and sailed his ship more aggressively and more silently than his colleagues… A Trafalgar class sub finally tracked him down but had to stay perilously close to keep in contact. Close enough to be detected by his adversary. As for the Soviet version of the story, it says the 5th Victor remained undetected.

By 1989, the Soviet Navy fielded 349 submarines in total! The British feared that in case of a war, they could actually run out of torpedoes before managing to sink all the Soviet subs! However, out of those 349 Soviet submarines, only 35 were of the latest -modern and silent- models. Still, that handful of modern Soviet submarines were causing all kind of troubles for the West and closing the qualitative gap: The same year, in 1989, seven of them were known to be at sea but neither the US Navy nor the Royal Navy could find them…

This was the swansong of the red navy, though… The Soviets never closed the qualitative gap: They ran out of money and time. They were already running on fumes in 1989 and the Union itself would crumble under its own weight 2 years later, in 1991…

The story isn’t over, yet, however: While the Russian Navy (and Russian shipyards) never really recovered from the fall of the Soviet Union (as far as surface vessels goes), Russia somehow managed to retain the shipyards, skilled manpower, design bureaus and expertise necessary to design, produce and field modern submarines close to, or on par, (depending on who you ask) with the best the West has to offer. And Russian submarine activity is now at its highest since the end of the Cold War.

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Japan’s Type 10: A Balance of Harmony https://defensionem.com/japans-type-10-a-balance-of-harmony/ https://defensionem.com/japans-type-10-a-balance-of-harmony/#respond Sat, 29 Aug 2020 13:53:50 +0000 https://defensionem.com/?p=31055 The Type-10 is the latest evolution in Japanese tank design. The design is predicated on the need for Japan to possess an advanced tank that employs both lethal direct fires and gains information dominance over an adversary.

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The Type-10 is the latest evolution in Japanese tank design. The design is predicated on the need for Japan to possess an advanced tank that employs lethal direct fires and gains information dominance over an adversary. The design is intended to account for Japan’s limited internal space for transportation, restrictive urbanization and limited heavy lift capabilities. It is to be rapidly transported in order to augment their rapid reaction forces in the event of an armed attack by external forces. The Type10 was initially decided upon early at the turn of the century, when Japanese planners conducted an analysis of alternatives covering their current inventory of main battle tanks to ascertain if future upgrades were feasible as a result of the anticipated transformational impact from digitization.

Upon completion of the analysis, it was decided that a new tank design would best meet the future requirements of the Japanese Ground Self Defense Force, here after known as the JGSDF. The JGSDF elected to focus on three main tenants identified in their analysis; the vehicle must be rapidly transportable with current and future transport options, it must possess a 120mm main gun and it must be able to integrate into a robust battlefield network that allows for the vehicle to obtain situational dominance over potential enemies. Due to the operational environment that the JGSDF finds itself in, it requires a rapid and mobile ground defense force to deploy and contain enemy forces, followed by rapidly counter attacking, with the intent to regain positions. Additionally, the distinct likelihood of operating in restrictive terrain required the JGSDF to make calculated tradeoff’s that prioritized transportability over weight. Design and development of the Type-10 began when the Technical Research and Development Institute executed its design production model in 2002. Subsequent prototype testing occurred in 2007 and 2008, with full rate production in 2012.

The Type 10 has a 3 man crew, a 120mm cannon and weighs 48 tons with its full up armor package installed

Program Vision and Overview

The Type-10 is Japan’s most advanced main battle tank and will remain in service for several decades.  The Type-10 design pays additional attention to communications, computers and rapid transitions between offense and defensive operations, via an advanced C2 battle network system. The tank was designed to deliver decisive lethal effects and accurate fires, with an estimated range of 2,000 meters, and fight as part of an integrated combined arms team that is centered on infantry support. The Type-10 is not intended to serve purely as an armored force for the JGSDF, but as an enabler that helps defeat localized threats as the parent unit, conducts main effort operations. The Type-10 will afford the JGSDF future growth options and take advantage of the robust technological industry of Japan. The vehicle is also expected to have further production orders within the next few years to offset consumption of spare parts and stock material.

Decisive Design 

The design is capable of being deployed and transported by rail, sea, waterway and road modes of transportation. It is speculative that it is transportable by air, as Japan possesses few heavy lift aircraft (C-2) which has a maxim payload of 42 tons, and the baseline weight of the vehicle is 43 tons, therefore it is deemed as unlikely to be air transportable, except in limited and rare circumstances. The vehicle is designed to be survivable against current direct fire weapon systems that it is expected to face. The design has paid significant attention to lethality, tactical mobility, and its communication suite. Primarily, the vehicle has placed an emphasis on being able to operate at the Company/Squadron level, attached to Infantry formations and serve as a mobile, anti-armor platform. The design has several innovative features, including a hydro pneumatic suspension system. This affords for tactically enhanced cross-country operations and allows for accurate direct fires, while on the move over rough terrain. It also enables the vehicle to better engage from hull-down positions while in the confines of uneven terrain.

The 120mm cannon is produced in Japan and fires all standard 120mm munitions as well as indigenous munitions developed for the Type-10

Lethal formations

The tank possess digitally advanced automotive functions to support collective training, mission preparation and execution, which facilitate tactical employment. The tank possesses enhanced situational awareness and target acquisition capabilities to orient and deliver lethal effects on enemy forces. The tank employs an integrated battle management system known as The Regimental Command Control System.  This networked system reinforces JGSDF doctrine that focuses on direct support to infantry formations and fosters increased cooperation as a combined arms team. Further, the Type-10 can generate, pass and collect tactical data obtained from its full spectrum sight systems associated with the vehicle. This system affords crews to monitor internal and external data inputs through remote sensors and cameras, as well as gathered information from adjacent units to build a robust common operating picture in real time. The tank also possesses advanced third generation thermals and fire control systems with enhanced digital imagery and possesses long range DRI capabilities, rated in excess of 8km.

 Due to the advanced electronics, fire control system and thermal viewing capability of vehicle, Defensionem assesses that the Type-10 will provide lethal direct fires against current and future armored threats at ranges in excess of 2,000 meters. The vehicle uses an indigenous designed 120mm smoothbore cannon that can fire all standard NATO rounds, and can specifically fire a new JGSDF 120mm Sabot round, exclusively designed for the Type10. The standard anti-armor round is a licensed copy of the German DM-33. Defensionem assesses that the Type-10 as having rough parity, in terms of direct fire lethality, with regional threats. It is deemed probable that the JM-33 rounds are equal to M-833 series DU sabot rounds formerly employed by the US. JM-33 rounds afford the Type-10 engagement ranges under 2,000m against modern tanks with composite and reactive armor. Side or rear engagements are likely to produce more effective results against threats. At ranges under 1,500, it is deemed that the JM-33 series can generate lethality kills. Subsequent improved rounds, such as the Type 10 APFSDS, are assessed as being a reinforced rod with an enlarged diameter and a hardened steel tip to counter ERA, bringing it to within kinetic performance levels of the DM-53.

Notice the modular armor package and despite the relatively smaller size of the tank great efforts were paid to armor protection.

Vehicle Vulnerability Analysis

Defensionem assess via use of a fault tree analysis that cover the main subsystems that, if damaged or destroyed, would cause a communication, mobility, lethality, or catastrophic kill. These types of kills are defined below.

Communications Kill

The vehicle experiences a communications-kill if it is damaged to the extent that it cannot transmit or receive information by its electronic communication equipment, and the damage is not repairable by the crew on the battlefield within 10 minutes. Due to the Type-10 employing an integrated communication system that is mounted under ballistic protection, the probability of this occurring is low. Standard vulnerability to radio antennas are present and communication attachments mounted on the turret roof. It is estimated that the vehicle possesses hardened and embedded casing which houses the computerized C4I system, further protecting from a communication disablement.

Mobility Kill

The vehicle experiences a mobility-kill if the damage causes the vehicle to be incapable of performing any of the mobility requirements of its assigned mission, and the damage is not repairable by the crew on the battlefield within 20 minutes. The Type-10 is designed without an APS system but does have the ability to field one once developed. The tank also lacks ERA but retains the ability to mount ERA blocks along the hull and frontal skirts should the need arise. These factors increase the probability of a mobility kill. Probability is rated as moderate and trends to high, as a result of a lack of layered protection.

Lethality Kill

The vehicle experiences a lethality-kill if the damage causes the vehicle to be incapable of performing any of the lethality requirements of its assigned mission, and the damage is not repairable by the crew on the battlefield within 10 minutes. The Type-10 has a 120mm cannon and also a RWS 12.7mm weapon system. Due to the lighter weight of the vehicle and along the gun mount, the tank has more vulnerability along the frontal aspects of the turret compared to some modern designs. As a result of this, the chances of a lethality kill occurring is greater. Probability of a lethality kill for main armament systems occurring is deemed as moderate.  Further, due to the lighter weight of the turret, which absorbs direct fire impacts, dissipating the transferred energy, critical components such as the FCS and or gunners sights are deemed at higher than normal risk to damage. The tank also employs an electric turret and requires electrical power to operate the vehicle. It is unknown if the vehicle has auxiliary  power units for extended use, but according to technical specifications, there does not seem to be an increase of stowage on the chassis, therefore it is deemed as unlikely. The loss of the battery compartment will also enable a lethality kill. The RWS is mounted, elevated close to the TC hatch and suffers from the standard risk of damage from fragments, small arms fire or a main gun round impacting. Additionally, the RWS is mounted in front of the TC, affording the crew some level of protection while repairing and or reloading the machine gun. The probability of the secondary weapons being damaged is deemed moderate to high.

Catastrophic Kill (K-kill)

The vehicle suffers a catastrophic-kill if the damage is so extensive that the vehicle is not economically repairable. Items carried on-board the vehicles whose detonation or ignition could result in catastrophic damage would be items such as ammunition, fuel, oil, fluids, etc. The Type-10 has a specialized, light weight armor using Nano Metric Steel (NS), which is high grade steel, with modifications to its composition that creates an enhanced hardened surface that is more resistant to deformation and penetration. This armor has some tendencies similar to how depleted uranium armor is used to blunt and reduce the kinetic energy encountered from sabot rounds. The modular armor package consists a layered application of NS plates encapsulating third generation composite armor, which absorbs KE rounds and reduces penetration characteristics. This package can be changed out under battlefield conditions. The overall armor package is complemented by an internally hardened wall with a small gap to further reduce penetration effects. Further, due to the design of tank, at medium to long distance, the ability to properly sight and target the vehicle is reduced. Another survivability and defense component of the vehicle is its integrated warning system that alerts the crew to being targeted and provides counter measures for employment. The tank also attaches NS armor modules to the side and rear aspects of the turret. Currently, there is no APS system fielded to the vehicle. Japan is expected to deploy their own version of an APS within short order. It is anticipated that this APS system will feature an advanced laser based detection system to counter specific higher velocity missiles originating from threat forces. The use of modular armor presents a survivability concern. Mounted armor modules must be fitted into a manufactured positions and are not integrated as one “organic package”. This results in a lower collective hardness, as the entirety of the package consists two separate components. Further, once a portion of modular armor is damaged, it must be replaced immediately or a gap in the protection scheme develops and increases the risk of a K-kill. Due to the dimensions of the turret design and analysis of its weight, Defensionem estimates the Type-10 has an estimated RHA equivalency over 550mm over the frontal part of the turret. The operational environment found in Japan consists of constricting modes of ground transit, restrictive and channelizing terrain and urbanization. The design correctly focused on and invested in tactical speed, lethal firepower and sufficient, at distance, armor protection, tenants similar to French Armor doctrine and design philosophy with their Leclerc.  It is probable that the tank is resistant to KE rounds possessed by regional adversaries that it is expected to face. Tactical engagement scenarios further lend appreciation on how terrain and coordination with Infantry units would play a factor operationally. Assessing the totality of the circumstances, this tank is ideally suited for combat operations in and around the mainland of Japan and would pose a formidable obstacle for regional adversaries due to its excellent design.

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The Merkava IV: Israel’s Chariot https://defensionem.com/the-merkava-iv-israels-chariot/ https://defensionem.com/the-merkava-iv-israels-chariot/#respond Thu, 27 Aug 2020 22:16:07 +0000 https://defensionem.com/?p=31046 The Merkava IV will continue to serve the Israeli Army’s as its main battle tank for decades to come. As it stands today and well into the future, there is no regional ground threat to the Israeli Armored Corps, which can threaten its primacy.

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The Merkava Mk IV is Israel’s latest in the line of the vehicle series to be built. The design was to take the lessons learned from the three previous editions of the tank series and culminate it into a design for future armored operations that would serve the Israeli Army for decades to come. Conceived back in the late 1990’s by the Israeli Army, it looked improve upon operations in urban combat, as well as improve upon the successful design of the Merkava III series. Focus on the latest evolution of the series can be divided into three main categories; survivability, communications and modular growth.

The Israeli Army elected to focus on these three main categories due to their assessment of the current and future operational environment in relation to their national defense strategies. The operational environment that the Israeli Army executes in, requires them to deploy defensively, absorb any attack, and then counter attack to regain the initiative. Additionally, the distinct likelihood of operating in restrictive terrain, as well as urban terrain, required Israel to upgrade their tanks to focus on threats that could take advantage of the operational complexities found in urban centers. This led to upgrades such as Active Protective Systems, integrated battle management systems and software updates that mitigates counter mobility efforts (IEDs), anti-armor ambushes utilizing urban areas to reduce chances of detection and mitigation of collateral damage and reduced situational awareness when operating in restrictive environments. Capitalizing on the modular design of the Merkava series, production was carried out, starting in 2004/5 with follow on improvements such as the Barak variant later to come next few years.

Merkava tanks are armed with a 120mm cannon

Program Vision and Overview

The Merkava IV will continue to serve the Israeli Army’s as its main battle tank for decades to come. As it stands today and well into the future, there is no regional ground threat to the Israeli Armored Corps, which can threaten its primacy. The Merkava IV will be augmented with a new vehicle, designed to operate in urban and internal settings, which will free up armored units for traditional duties and roles.  The Merkava IV is tasked to deploy and defend against an enemies main attack, defeating it and then to quickly transition onto the offensive by counter attacking. The tank can achieve this via its ability to deliver decisive lethal effects and accurate fires at all ranges, and employ informational dominance as an element of an integrated combined arms team that includes both close air support and close combat aircraft. This ability to nest and synergize within the formation and leverage all elements of the Defense Force’s capabilities greatly enhances the lethality and combat capability of the platform.  

The Merkava IV affords the Israeli Army future growth to take advantage of future technologies, as seen with past upgrades and future upgrades now under way. Due to the close defense and security ties between the United States and Israel, the Israeli Merkava will undoubtedly continue to enjoy robust capability upgrades will into the next two decades. Lastly, the platform also affords for the potential growth of a common family of vehicles, based off the tank that will ensure affordable and reliable end item components, sub components as well as qualified and trained personnel to operate them, thus securing the critical lynchpin of any force; logistics and industrial capabilities.

Decisive Design 

The designed is capable of being deployed and transported by rail, sea, waterway and road modes of transportation.  It is designed to be survivable against current and emerging threats that the Israeli Army is expected to face. As stated above, the Merkava IV, will serve as the lead element of the ground based strategy and defeat enemy attacks. This is a result of the design having significant attention paid to its lethality capability, its survivability against lethal enemy direct fire, as well as the vehicle’s ability to conduct rapid operations via its underrated mobility (armored mobility has various scopes of definitions, must important is its ability to tactically move as a unit, in combat formations and deliver accurate direct fires, during offensive operations).   

Lethal formations

The vehicle possess digitally advanced automotive functions to help prepare crews by conducting collective training, mission preparation and mission execution to facilitate tactical employment, which rapidly translates to operational dominance against an adversary. The Merkava IV possesses exceptional situational awareness, target acquisition data and critical information to orient on threats to deliver lethal direct fires at all ranges. The tank will be the world’s first to employ a helmet mounted integrated data system, known as Iron View. This system affords the crew to monitor internal and external data inputs in a similar fashion to a pilots integrated helmet display, and is derived from the Israeli involvement with the F-35 program. The tank also possesses advanced thermal and computerized imagery, long range DRI capabilities, rated in excess of 6km. The Merkava IV will able to receive and pass information horizontally and vertically within a fully integrated battlefield network system, which is also designed to integrate real time on target information from aerial assets, as well as capture, store and transmit imagery to other users, via their VDS-60.  Further, modernization and improvements to the Israeli Weapon Integrated Battle Management System, will likely include remote fire and cooperative engagement scenario capabilities. Defensionem assesses that the Merkava IV will provide lethal direct fires against current and future armored threats out to ranges of 3km due to the Israeli employment of advanced kinetic and chemical energy rounds, such as their M-338/339 munitions.

Iron Vision by Elbit Systems

The use of a IMI designed MG 251/3 series 120mm tank cannon, itself modeled upon aspects the RH-120 L/44, ensure that the Merkava IV will be able to employ both indigenously developed munitions, as well as specific NATO rounds, to include US made anti-armor munitions. Defensionem assesses that it is likely that Israel intentionally developed its main gun to be able to employ, as needed, US war stock material, in the event of an urgent needs requirement occurring, as this would keep in step with US-Israeli security ties and previous historical examples that have occurred.

Further, Defensionem assesses that the Merkava IV as having superiority within the greater Middle East region against all potential threats. The Merkava series do not employ depleted uranium shells, although, as stated above, they retain the option if the need were to occur. The Israeli Army employs a tungsten alloy 120mm sabot round as its primary anti-armor weapon with an estimated effective range of 2,500m against most threats. It is deemed probable that the IMI rounds are roughly equal to early series M-829 series sabot rounds formerly employed by the US. Recent collaboration between Israeli and Indian defense companies have resulted in tank fired munition programs worthy of employment. It is assessed that one or both nations within the next decade, will field a next generation sabot round that will use a depleted uranium rod. This munition will be critical for both nations to retain overmatch against potential threat upgrades going into the next decade and beyond. Lastly, the Merkava IV retains an internally mounted 60mm mortar for use, with enhanced indirect fire capabilities. This additional benefit, affords the vehicle to employ smoke and illumination rounds and immediate suppression rounds against dismounted threats, and also provides options for the vehicle commander to ascertain whether suspected enemy armor positions are in fact, occupied.

Vehicle Vulnerability Analysis

Defensionem assess via use of a fault tree analysis that cover the main subsystems that, if damaged or destroyed, would cause a communication, mobility, lethality, or catastrophic kill. These types of kills are defined below.

Communications Kill

The vehicle experiences a communications-kill if it is damaged to the extent that it cannot transmit or receive information by its electronic communication equipment, and the damage is not repairable by the crew on the battlefield within 10 minutes. Due to the Merkava employing an integrated communication system that is mounted under ballistic protection, the probability of this occurring is low except in circumstances involving a direct KE or CE hit. Standard vulnerability to radio antennas are present and any external satellite communication attachments mounted on the turret roof. The Merkava series were intentionally designed to limit potential damage to critical subsystems, such as its communications suite and operates with the flexible option of reduced electronic emissions as a result of its integrated battlefield network and system. Critically, this affords a reduced EMS signals, as well as passive communications and transmissions of certain data packets.

Mobility Kill

The vehicle experiences a mobility-kill if the damage causes the vehicle to be incapable of performing any of the mobility requirements of its assigned mission, and the damage is not repairable by the crew on the battlefield within 20 minutes. The Merkava IV is designed with an integrated active APS system sufficient power generation to run the APS and full systems concurrently and has additional survivability features, to include spaced armor, Slat armor and ERA to protect against a mobility kill. The tank has the ability to mount ERA blocks along the axis of its hull and frontal skirts should the need arise. This ability reduces the probability of a mobility kill. Probability is rated as moderate and trends to high, as a result of the layered defense and protection systems all needing to be functioning and applied. Specifically designed tracks employed by the vehicle that reduce susceptibility, wear and tear, and aid in rapid repair to the vehicle track if the track receives little to no damage from enemy munitions.

Lethality Kill

The vehicle experiences a lethality-kill if the damage causes the vehicle to be incapable of performing any of the lethality requirements of its assigned mission, and the damage is not repairable by the crew on the battlefield within 10 minutes. The Merkava IV retains its 120mm cannon from the previous series and also its RWS 12.7mm weapon system. Due to the specifically designed turret, featuring highly shaped angles, the Merkava has a reduced frontal section, compared to most tanks without the loss of armor protection. Probability of a lethality kill for main armament systems occurring is deemed as low to moderate. Despite Israeli defensive doctrine of employing hull down positions, concerns still arise over the form of turret power it receives as well as the batteries being stationed forward (as opposed to the rear of the tank) and next to the engine compartment, despite the layered defensive approach adopted. Turret power is provided by electrical power with enhanced batteries for extended use. While a lethality kill will occur if the tank batteries are damaged, the design of additional features ensures that mechanical functions can still occur even with battle damage, as does the ability to conduct silent operations. The location of the RWS increases the chances of damage from fragments, small arms fire or a main gun round hitting the turret. Additionally, the RWS is mounted in front of the loader, affording the crew some level of protection while repairing and or reloading the machine gun. The probability of the secondary weapons being damaged is deemed moderate to high.

Catastrophic Kill (K-kill) The vehicle suffers a catastrophic-kill if the damage is so extensive that the vehicle is not economically repairable. Items carried on-board the vehicles whose detonation or ignition could result in catastrophic damage would be items such as ammunition, fuel, oil, fluids, etc. The MerkavaIV possesses a multi layered protection scheme. The armor is a third generation composite mix, encapsulated between high strength steel. Further, the armor is designed upon a modular block system that can be changed out under battlefield conditions. The overall turret armor is complemented by an intentional and methodical design that affords the turret to have sharp angles that aid in its protection. Further, due to the design, at distance, the ability to hit a sleekly designed turret is reduced. This design also affords greater kinetic resistance properties. The turret also features enhanced composite material specifically designed to deal with chemical energy munitions, such as anti-tank missiles, as well as of Kevlar interior lining.  The second layer of defense is the APS system. This system aims to provide greater side protection, as well as covering frontal aspects of the tank, due to the unusual location of where the turret and chassis are mated. This should afford greater side and rear coverage. This was an intentional design of the series, and maximizes the coverage abilities of the APS systems employed by the tank. However, the use of modular armor presents a significant shortfall. Mounted armor modules must be fitted into a preexisting slot, and are not integrated as an “organic armor package”, this results in a lower collective hardness, as the entirety of the armor package is two separate components. Further, if a modular armor block is damaged and not replaced, then a gap in the armor protection scheme would develop during extended operations and present a vulnerable area if re engagement occurred.

Damaged Merkava IV. Notice the deformation of the modular armor. This is intentional the purpose, as the core of the vehicle and interior is still functional.

Due to the layout of the turret, analysis of its weight and the weight of the chassis, and additional materials, Defensionem estimates the Merkava IV has a single steel wall and special composite armor panels without a reinforced armored plate covering the exterior of the package, thus it is estimated to have between 520 to 550mm of RHA armor over the frontal part of the turret (against kinetic energy rounds).The vehicle has additional protection afforded to it as a result of the unusual placement of its engine compartment, which is placed forward as opposed to the rear of the turret. This feature is a specific design requirement, because as mentioned earlier, the Israeli ground strategy is defense first, followed by rapid and aggressive counter attacks. Rear turret visual analysis allows for concern and identifies a potential exposure point of the turret rear, near the blow out panels and ammunition stowage area. This is mitigated by the placement of steel mesh and chains attached to the rear of the turret, covering said area.

Due to Israel’s considerable focus and investment into anti-missile defense, it is probable that the Merkava IV is greatly resistant to KE rounds possessed by potential adversaries in the region. Due to the operational environment and the heavy investment in DRI technologies, integrated management systems and combined arms operations, it is unlikely that the tank will be vulnerable to penetration at medium to long ranged fires. This assessment is based off of probable engagement ranges in the area of operation, with a notable exception north towards Lebanon, which does not pose an armored threat. Simply put, there is low chance that the tank will receive a catastrophic kill from another tank, except at close range or from the side or rear. Defensionem rates the chances of a catastrophic kill occurring as low to moderate, depending on whether or not advanced anti-armor missiles are employed successfully against the vehicle.

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India’s Arjun https://defensionem.com/indias-arjun/ https://defensionem.com/indias-arjun/#respond Wed, 26 Aug 2020 19:03:39 +0000 https://defensionem.com/?p=31037 The Arjun is India’s first attempt to create a main battle tank. First conceived back in the early 1970’s by the Indian Defense Research and Development Organization, on behalf of the Indian Army, it was expected to be ready for production within a decade. It was intended to encompass lethality, survivability and mobility that would enhance the Indian Armored Corps for operations against likely future threats, post the conclusion of the 1971 war.

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Background:

The Arjun is India’s first attempt to create a main battle tank. First conceived back in the early 1970’s by the Indian Defense Research and Development Organization, on behalf of the Indian Army, it was expected to be ready for production within a decade. It was intended to encompass lethality, survivability and mobility that would enhance the Indian Armored Corps for operations against likely future threats, post the conclusion of the 1971 war. The Indian Army soon after the initial design and development, identified two significant shortfalls in the defense industrial base; the lack to produce a reliable engine and main gun tube. This led to the initial importing of the two critical components. This and other issues, led to several delays to the program, with the end result being the first tanks rolled off the production floor, in 2004, nearly twenty years after the expected initial date thought. Over the last 16 years, the Arjun has continued to receive updates and modernization in its design. The latest version underdevelopment is known as the Arjun Mk 2.  

Program Vision and Overview

The Arjun will serve the Indian Army’s in a complementary role, tasked to maneuver through the enemy’s main defense zone as part of an Integrated Battle Group for the purpose of fulfilling the Indian Army’s Cold Start Doctrine (CSD) and deliver decisive lethal effects during the planned armored thrusts envisioned for the CSD.  The Arjun complements and enhances the capabilities of the Indian Army by having a secondary production line that mitigates any disruption to their primary tank, their T-90s.  The Arjun affords the Indian Army additional growth to take advantage of future technologies, as seen with the Mk 2 program. The Arjun will also serve as a baseline for future tank designs starting next decade and service as a quasi-test bed for the Indian defense industry, where valuable lessons learned will be applied to follow on designs, such as with the Arjun Mk 2. This factor alone deserves credit as developing from scratch an indigenous tank manufacturing capability was achieved through the Arjun program and has directly aided in India’s national security, a feat that should not be ignored.

Decisive Design 

The Arjun is designed to be deployed and transportable by air, rail, sea, waterway and road modes of transportation.  It is designed to be survivable against current and emerging threats that the Indian Army is expected to face. The Arjun, will serve in a niche role, focused on specific sectors and areas of operation. This is a result of the design having significant attention paid to its survivability against lethal enemy direct fire, as well as the design intentions of combining the three biggest factors in tank design; mobility, lethality and survivability. The Arjun is able to fire accurately and while on the move through its fully integrated fire control system, which was achieved through collaboration between Indian firms BEL and IRDE, as well as with Israeli assistance with the program. Lastly, the Arjun’s ability to conduct DRI functions, illustrate the capabilities of the Arjun FCS system and the French designed thermal viewer that is used.

Indian Arjun Mk 1-A on display.

Lethal formations

The vehicle possess the necessary automotive functions to help prepare crews by conducting collective training, mission preparation and mission execution to facilitate tactical employment. The Arjun possesses adequate situational awareness, target acquisition data and critical information to orient on threats but lacks advanced thermal imagery and has restricted long range identification capabilities, which is rated at 2 km. The Arjun series will able to receive and pass information horizontally and vertically, within an integrated battlefield network, which is designed with Israeli collaboration and is estimated to be within scope and similarity to baseline FBCB2 like systems.  Defensionem anticipates that the Arjun will provide lethal direct fires against expected armored threats and future threats. The Arjun is assessed as being able to achieve parity with other regional ground forces that employ DU sabot rounds, notably due to regional threats employing either the same material solution capability or copied variants, as with the case of China and their DTW-125mm DU round. The Indian 120mm cannon will likely employ an enhanced DU penetrator modeled after the IMI 120mm round sometime within the next decade and will likely have similar ballistic penetration capabilities. This munition will give the Arjun the ability to engage expected threats out to ranges of 2,000 meters. A lethality shortcoming identified is the lack of a tube launched anti-tank guided missile. The Israeli Lahat, the initial contender was discarded as an option over its inability to engage at ranges under 1,200m. India is currently working to rectify this requirement with an indigenous designed missile. There is little to no information as to why the requirement of a tube launched missile needed to be employed at short ranges, considering the kinetic advantages afforded by APFSDS at close ranges. Therefore, Defensionem assesses that Indian DU APFSDS rounds are inferior to chemical energy rounds in terms of penetration at close ranges. Accordingly, it is factored that the Israeli Lahat missile, offered in excess of 700mm RHA penetration at any distance and exceeded the KE performance of Indian DU rounds at ranges at or around 1,200m.

Cut away view of the Arjun Mk 1. Notice the CL V storage along side the drivers compartment and the lack of blow out panels associated with it.

Vehicle Vulnerability Analysis

Defensionem assess via use of a fault tree analysis that cover the main subsystems that, if damaged or destroyed, would cause a communication, mobility, lethality, or catastrophic kill. These types of kills are defined below.

Communications Kill

The vehicle experiences a communications-kill if it is damaged to the extent that it cannot transmit or receive information by its electronic communication equipment, and the damage is not repairable by the crew on the battlefield within 10 minutes. Due to the Arjun employing an integrated communication system that is traditionally mounted, under ballistic protection, the probability of this occurring is low to moderate. Standard vulnerability to radio antennas prevail, as with all designs, but by large and by far, the internal mounting of the majority of the communication systems are dependent upon shock hardening factors, found within the turret layout. Defensionem assess that this layout is traditional to most modern designs and require little augmentation other than cable and or mounting repairs.

Mobility Kill

The vehicle experiences a mobility-kill if the damage causes the vehicle to be incapable of performing any of the mobility requirements of its assigned mission, and the damage is not repairable by the crew on the battlefield within 20 minutes. The Arjun is designed to be able to accommodate an active APS system, from Rafael systems. Considering the limitation of the Arjun of being close to but not yet fielded, the APS system would likely facilitate favorable mobility protection. Further, the Arjun has the ability to mount ERA blocks along the axis of its hull and frontal skirts, especially over its #1 and #2 skirts. This ability mitigates the probability of a mobility kill occurring. It is rated as moderate to low as a result of potential APS employment and ERA blocks along the chassis.

Lethality Kill

The vehicle experiences a lethality-kill if the damage causes the vehicle to be incapable of performing any of the lethality requirements of its assigned mission, and the damage is not repairable by the crew on the battlefield within 10 minutes. The Arjun will employ an indigenously developed 120mm cannon. Whether or not, it uses a rifled 120mm cannon or the Mk 2 version uses a 120mm smooth bore cannon based on Israeli design, the cannon, in whatever version, will afford adequate maintenance and repairs. Probability of a lethality kill for main armament systems occurring is deemed as low. Additional concerns are reduced due to the form of turret power it receives. While a lethality kill will occur if the tank batteries are damaged, the use of hydraulic operation ensures that mechanical functions can still occur even with battle damage, as does the ability to conduct silent watch functions without the vehicle running, thus this feature would allow for continued employment without a fully functional vehicle, albeit however long. The location of the RWS increases the chances of accidental damage from fragments or small arms fire, but the RWS itself has a ballistic mounting. Additionally, the RWS is mounted in front of the loader, affording the crew the protection of repairing and or reloading the machine gun from under partial cover. The probability of the secondary weapons being damaged is deemed low.

All Arjun series retain this shortcoming from incorporating GPS sights internally into a turret as opposed to externally on top of the turret. Further series also add sensors to the right of this, increasing the area on the frontal aspect of the turret that has less armor protection.

Catastrophic Kill (K-kill)

The vehicle suffers a catastrophic-kill if the damage is so extensive that the vehicle is not economically repairable. Items carried on-board the vehicles whose detonation or ignition could result in catastrophic damage would be items such as ammunition, fuel, oil, fluids, etc. Defensionem estimates the Arjun, depending on model, will likely have between 480 to 500mm of RHA armor over the frontal* aspects of the turret, more so if ERA is applied. The Arjun uses a layered approach for ballistic protection, consisting of active defense systems, ERA blocks and Kanchan armor, which is a composite armor package. Kanchan, is a mixed soft material mesh, hexagonal in design and is encapsulated in steel plates, which is based upon 2st generation composite armor, notably Chobham, foundon Challenger 1 and M1 andsome M1A1 seriestanks. This design is intended to increase battlefield survivability and addresses future enemy lethality efforts post 2020. Visual analysis allows for concern that the Arjun Mk1-A employs spaced and composite armor, in an arrow head design that mimics the T-90 in principle. Critically, the Mk1-A turret exposes significant turret area in comparison to the Mk 1 model. As noted in above picture, the exposed area surface between the base of the turret and the wedged like armor at the top of the turret, is deemed as a design flaw that could be exploited in engagement scenarios at or around 2,000m. This assessment is based off of probable engagement ranges found west of India’s borders against a prepared and dug in enemy, expecting a CSD attack. Additionally, the question of armor protection on the front right side of the turret, near the gunner’s dog house doors, cause concern, as the cut away of the sights indicate, there is a vacuum and space associated at that location. Simply put, there is less armor there, as it houses the gunner’s primary sights and right of that are additional sensors housed that are not armored.  Currently, there are no hull blow out panels, thus reducing the survivability rate of the Arjun in the event of penetration. Probability of catastrophic kills occurring is rated as moderate to low against Pakistani forces and moderate to high against Chinese forces.

Arjun tank with engineering plow attached.

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