Unusual Israeli tank proctection?
January 18, 2009 8:50 AM   Subscribe

I would like to know if anyone has any clue as to what is on top of this Israeli tank . . . some type of protection against something, but what?
posted by Shakes the Clown to Technology (16 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: [IMG]http://i130.photobucket.com/albums/p258/pdisney/Israeli_Military_11.jpg[/IMG]

posted by Shakes the Clown at 8:54 AM on January 18, 2009

Actual link :P
posted by ClarissaWAM at 8:55 AM on January 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Yes - thank you . . . I'm evidently "link" challenged today :)
posted by Shakes the Clown at 8:56 AM on January 18, 2009

It may be cage armor, which protects against RPGs.
posted by bitterpants at 8:57 AM on January 18, 2009 [2 favorites]

It's some kind of engineering vehicle, mine clearing?

That's an old Chieftain, the turrets are retro fit for some kind of maintenance would be my guess.
posted by Max Power at 9:28 AM on January 18, 2009

Ok i take it back, i asked a source...

"its called a birdcage. it catches an rpg. the rpg either detonates
at a 1-2 foot standoff from the vehicle causing very little damage or
sometimes it does not detonate at all and they get an EOD team to come
diffuse it. it is more effective than first meets the eye."
posted by Black_Umbrella at 9:43 AM on January 18, 2009

here's a picture of a US Stryker APC with the same 'cage' armor... million dollar solution to a five dollar weapon.
posted by geos at 9:48 AM on January 18, 2009

Canada's been using it on our tanks in Afghanistan (PDF, see page 2 for photo).

I'm a little perplexed by geos' calling this a 'million dollar solution to a five dollar weapon'. Compared to other proposed defences, this one's pretty simple, sensble, and cheap.
posted by Clandestine Outlawry at 9:56 AM on January 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

A shaped charge has a range of effect from the point of detonation. If you can make it detonate further away, most of that effect is wasted.

Usually they have a spike in the middle, which is a contact fuse. It sticks out a long way in front of the warhead, and is just the right length to make the warhead explode at the optimal range from the target for maximum penetration and effect.

Sometimes, as in the case of Soviet and Russian RPG's, that spike is turned into a cone.

The purpose of that cage is to make the warhead detonate too soon, so that most of its destructive power is wasted.

The other way to louse up shaped charges is "reactive armor", which the Israelis used to use. The problem with that is that it's dangerous to nearby friendly infantry if it goes off.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 10:06 AM on January 18, 2009 [2 favorites]

I'm surprised RPGs can even harm modern tanks.
posted by Modus Pwnens at 11:47 AM on January 18, 2009

Modus, I'm not an expert...actually I have no idea what I'm talking about.

But my dad talks about RPGs in Vietnam and how scary they were. Because if you were riding in an armored personnel carrier and an RPG hit it and exploded inside, it was very bad. In the everyone dead in a horrible way kind of way.

I think the problem is, for the most part, metal is metal, and metal that would protect against an RPG attack is heavy, and heavy vehicles are slower and/or bigger, and use more fuel. So it's a trade-off between speed and toughness. You don't want to be in an impervious vehicle that can't move.
posted by sully75 at 11:54 AM on January 18, 2009

Some (modern) RPGs can apparently defeat modern tank armor. For example:


I don't know how Israeli tank armor compares to Abrams armor in this case, so an older RPG might be able to put a hole in it.

On the other hand, even if there's no lethal penetration, the birdcage is a cheap way of keeping unsightly holes out of your armor. And you don't want to provide Hamas a propaganda victor if they actually get a lucky shot and kill a tank if you can substantially reduce the odds with relatively inexpensive countermeasures.
posted by chengjih at 12:04 PM on January 18, 2009

I'm surprised RPGs can even harm modern tanks.

Not reliably. But the cages increase the tank's odds a little more, and they're pretty cheap -- before there was an official U.S. military solution to a similar problem in Iraq, troops were putting chain-link fence on with rebar holding it away from the vehicle.
posted by Etrigan at 12:28 PM on January 18, 2009

It's probably Chocolate Pickle and others like. Shaped charges are designed to explode and compress and focus a cone of metal and shoot a stream of hot metal through armor. They only really work against tank type armor if they are just at the right distance, otherwise they're (well roughly) a big firecracker and do diddly. You might look for the US Army "Improvised Munitions" manual or the SAS "Sabotage and Demolitions" manual.
posted by zengargoyle at 1:50 PM on January 18, 2009

I'm surprised RPGs can even harm modern tanks.

RPG-7 (which is what most people think of when they think "RPG") pretty much cannot harm a modern tank, though it can detrack one. (That's a lucky shot because it's a relatively small target, but if you can hit it you don't need much of a warhead to make the track break.)

But as mentioned above, there are other, larger, more modern RPGs which some have claimed are capable of doing it. There were rumors before the Israeli invasion that Iran had smuggled some of those into Gaza, and even some suspicions that Hamas was deliberately trying to provoke an invasion in hopes of slaughtering Israeli tanks with them.

I don't know if I credit the grandiose claims for the RPG-30. We won't know for sure if it's able to kill an Abrams until someone tries it. For one thing, even if that thing can penetrate 650 mm of solid armor, it's not clear it can penetrate Chobham armor, which is what the Abrams uses. Chobham armor is designed to defeat shaped charges.

And historically the Russians have made exaggerated claims for weapons they hope to sell to the world. Usually the weapons don't measure up.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 4:22 PM on January 18, 2009

By the way, supplementary reading: Shaped Charge
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 4:35 PM on January 18, 2009

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