“Below the Turret Ring” Blog

There are a couple new posts on the blog Below the Turret Ring.  Those interested in the latest developments in AFV technology will find these posts worthwhile.  Click on the headline to read the full post.


Merkava with ears? It’s ALWACS!

ALWACS Merkava 1In the past months a number of photographs has been posted online, which shows some of the older, upgraded Merkava main battle tanks (MBTs) featuring so called “ears”. In different forums people have speculated about the purpose of the oddly shaped turret add-ons, suggesting that these might be part of a 360° close proximity surveillance system or radars for detecting the launch of rocket propelled grenades or anti-tank missiles.

In fact the upgraded Merkava II and Merkava III tanks are fitted with the advanced laser warning and countermeasure system (ALWACS), which is made by the local manufacturer Elbit Systems. The ALWACS is a softkill active protection system (APS) capable of defeating anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs) and other sorts of laser-guided ammunition, by distracting them or by hiding the tank using a multi-spectral smoke screen. ALWACS has also been proposed for adoption on the troubled Arjun Mk. 2 tank upgrade for the Indian Army; however it was not adopted into the upgrade package in favor of other components such as heavy explosive reactive armor (ERA).


MBT upgrade news

ZNd2HaKSTBMA number of countries has presented or ordered upgrades for main battle tanks (MBTs) in the past months. Unfortunately low activity on this blog has resulted on some of the more recent events not being properly covered. This article is trying to recapitulate a few new developments and news reports that couldn’t make it into a full-sized article. While this approach will increase the coverage of “recent” events, the quality of the post might not be up to typical standards. In three countries low-cost upgrades of the T-72 were presented, while three other news a related to the Leopard 2 tank. The Argentine Army is also looking to improve more TAM tanks.

The T-72BME is a new upgrade developed by the 140th repair plant of the Belarussian Army, which was first presented at the MILEX 2017 defence exposition. The upgrade is focused on improving the electronics mainly – in Soviet/Russian nomenclature, the original T-72 variants didn’t even feature a proper fire control system (just a “ballistic calculator”) – but it also includes a few improvments to armor protection and mobility. While called T-72BME, the MBT is apparently not based on the T-72B version, but is rather a T-72A as identifiable by it’s turret. The main change in regards to protection is an altered layout for the Kontakt-1 explosive reactive armor (ERA) compared to the old Soviet layout. The T-72B1 originally feature a single ERA row mounted flat to the turret, whereas the T-72BME now uses multiple tiles arranged into a wedge shape – similar to the Kontakt-1 ERA layout on the T-80BV and the T-72AV. The rear section of the turret and the rear section of the hull sides are fitted with slat armor, which should provide protection against older types of RPGs. The slat armor on the turret rear section is used as mounting point for Kontakt-1 ERA.

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