Swiss armoury chooses SA tech


The Saab system increases the survivability of man and machine on the modern battlefield.A Swiss armoured vehicle manufacturer has chosen a South African contender, from a pack of 20, to protect its personnel carrier from threats like rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs).

The Saab Avitronics Land Electronic Defence System (LEDS) is a system of sensors, computers and dispensers that increase the survivability of man and machine on the modern battlefield.

Mowag director of business support and contracts Heinz König says the company performed an in-depth study of 20 different active protection systems (APS) available on the world market before choosing LEDS.

He adds that Mowag first used a customised “threat map” to identify the required protection technologies. Then it selected the most suitable protection technologies and suppliers for the threats as defined by military customers, before making a comparison of the additional overall weight for the proposed protective suit with the relevant threat protection.

The power of modern weapons is generally greater than the armour most vehicles can absorb. Most personnel carriers are barely bullet-proof in an effort to keep them mobile and transportable enough to be militarily useful. As a result, most are vulnerable to RPGs and anti-tank guided missiles.

In theory, the best protection for armoured vehicles has always been an APS. Such systems have, however, until recently been impractical. The advent of low-cost high-speed computing and fast servos made APS feasible.

Saab Avitronics senior business development executive Cobus van der Merwe says LEDS is modular, interchangeable, upgradable and scalable to meet different demands. It consists of a sensor suite, a central active defence controller and a high-speed directed dispensing system. It features counter-measure options ranging from fast-deploying multi-spectral smoke, active signature management devices and grenades, to smacking incoming rockets and missiles out of the air.

The active signature management option, essentially a smart sprayer system, includes protection against petrol bombs and fires resulting from explosives. Sensor options include laser warning devices and an active threat acquisition and tracking system.

How it works

The basic LEDS 50 warns the crew of a vehicle fitted with the system that they are in the beam of a laser. In the military environment, lasers are used to designate targets for artillery and anti-tank guided munitions, as well as for range finding. 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 Mongoose counter-munition. LEDS 100 confuses enemy weapons operators and incoming rounds by deploying 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 claims to destroy incoming RPG-7 rounds and anti-tank guided munitions with Mongoose projectiles at ranges as close as within 20m of the launch vehicle, allowing it to intercept rounds fired “from across the street”.

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