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LEDS reaches major improvement milestone during SA testing

altSaab has successfully tested a third generation High Speed Directed Launcher system, part of its Land Electronic Defence System (LEDS), as part of an effort to improve the capabilities of the RPG and anti-tank weapon defence system.

The tests were carried out in the middle of this month in Centurion, South Africa, and mark an important milestone in enhancement of Saab’s active protection offer for ground vehicles, the company said.

The testing of the High Speed Directed Launcher (HSDL-306) “went very well and the evaluation showed good results,” said Cobus van der Merwe, Executive Manager Business Development for LEDS at Saab. “All our test objectives were met which verifies we are on the right track and that our efforts to remain the international benchmark active protection concept have been successful.”

The tests included deployment of GALIX 13 multispectral smoke from Etienne Lacroix, France. The tests included a combination of coverage angles and different dispensing sequences.

The HSDL was mounted on a Piranha protected vehicle variant to also test integration design and monitor aspects like recoil and power consumption reduction. Saab said that the primary benefits offered by the next-generation launcher are the reduction in power consumption, size and weight.

The HSDL-306 is a joint effort by Curtiss-Wright Antriebstechnik GrnbH of Switzerland and the Saab business area Electronic Defence Systems.

The Saab Avitronics South Africa LEDS is a state-of-the-art RPG and anti-tank weapon defence system. It can detect an RPG within 5 milliseconds and calculate whether the RPG will hit or miss the carrier vehicle within a further 10 milliseconds. The active defence controller then determines the validity of the threat within a further 10 milliseconds before taking less than 50 milliseconds to compute an intercept. It then takes 10 milliseconds to launch and a further 50 milliseconds for the “effects deployment”.

The basic LEDS-50 warns the crew of a vehicle fitted with the system that they are in the beam of a laser. The system can deal with up to eight threats simultaneously, while providing analysis on the nature of the threat based on the spectral band used.

LEDS-100 adds jammers and decoys, while LEDS-150 adds the Denel Dynamics Mongoose 1 counter-munition. LEDS-100 confuses enemy weapons operators and incoming rounds by deploying multispectral smoke in their line of sight or flight, hiding the target vehicle. The smoke and an optional infrared jammer interfere with the acquisition and/or tracking, ranging, launching or guidance of a hostile weapon.

LEDS-150 destroys incoming RPG rounds or launched as close as 20 metres from the carrier vehicle with the Mongoose projectiles, allowing it to intercept rounds fired "from across the street".

Further evolutions of LEDS and Mongoose are on the way. LEDS 200 will be able to defeat multi-band seekers and LEDS-300 kinetic energy and “stand-off attack” weapons. LEDS-200 will rapidly deploy a multispectral coating that provides effective signature management against tri-band (CCD, IR, millimetre-wave radar) threats – and – also extinguishes fires. The latter will be a very useful feature against attacks from “petrol bombs” (“Molotov cocktails)”. Janes in June 2008 reported from the Eurosatory exhibition in Paris that LEDS 300 would expand the system's capability to counter kinetic energy “long rod” and smart standoff threats. The concept was “tested successfully … in South Africa [in 2007] and is scheduled to be ready for operations in 2012.”

The current ballistic Mongoose 1 typically defeats an RPG-7 within roughly 6 metres of the carrier vehicle as the about 135 milliseconds required for the intercept process translates into 14 metres of range for a RPG-7 fired at 20 metres. While comforting to the specific vehicle's crew this is disconcerting and likely fatal to own dismounted infantry accompanying the vehicle. A proposed guided Mongoose 2 and -3 will take the intercept envelope to 50 metres and a Mongoose 4 to beyond 300 metres.

To further limit friendly casualties, the Mongoose's warhead is designed to detonate in a flat ring pattern. To limit the firing of the incoming RPG's warhead, which would create the very armour penetrating “jet” the system is seeking to prevent, the Mongoose detonates a shaped charge in the immediate proximity of the incoming round, striking it in the side, resulting in a blast pattern that is parallel to the line of flight and leaving the detonator unfired.

The Reutech Radar Systems FMCW 3-dimensional radar that makes the intercepts possible contains no moving parts and combines simple antennas and simple hardware to provide the means for highly accurate detection and tracking of small, fast moving projectiles against complex clutter backgrounds.

LEDS is fast becoming one of the international benchmarks for active protection solution (APSs), Saab said. LEDS has been selected by General Dynamics European Land Systems as the preferred active defence system (ADS) for its Piranha (8x8) APC family after a worldwide study of more than 20 ADS currently under development or approaching the end of their development.

The system has been procured by the Dutch army for its BAE Hägglunds CV90 tracked IFVs. It has 192 of the vehicles in service.

In mid-July last year it was reported that Nexter Systems of France had completed installation and testing of the LEDS system on a French Army AMX-10RCR (Rénové) armoured reconnaissance vehicle as part of a research and development study that could see the system integrated onto a variety of French Army vehicles.

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