Saab markets local vehicle defence tech

By Leon Engelbrecht, ITWeb senior writer
Johannesburg, 10 Oct 2006

Saab, the Swedish hi-tech arms group, is marketing a South African technology that can shoot down rocket propelled grenades (RPGs) before they hit the launch vehicle, and the US Marine Corps is interested, it says.

Saab (formerly Grintek) Avitronics developed the Land Electronic Defence System (Leds) at its Centurion facility, using a building-block approach. Leds combines "soft- and hard-kill" options with what the defence industry calls "active signature management to provide hemispherical and full spectrum active protection to land vehicles".

The system consists of a "brain" called an active defence controller (ADC), a set of sensors, a high-speed directed launcher (HSDL) and countermeasure options ranging from fast deploying multi-spectral smoke and decoys (soft-kill) to rockets (hard-kill munitions) to destroy incoming threats. "It is a unique system," says Wilfred Moore, Saab Avitronics' senior executive, marketing and sales.

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 antitank 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.

Hostile weapon

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 infra-red 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 antitank guided munitions with Mongoose at ranges as close as within 20 metres of the launch vehicle, allowing it to intercept rounds fired "from across the street".

Moore said this would shortly be put to the test in what are called "full dynamic trials", meaning Leds would have to detect the rocket travelling at 300 metres per second and fire back within a bare fraction of a single second if the round is not to hit the vehicle. Moore said no other system in use has that ability, and tests prove it: On 24 January, a Mongoose intercepted and destroyed a 105mm high explosive round fired from a tank at a muzzle velocity of 683 metres per second. In a previous test series, three Mongooses hit three fin-stabilised rods travelling at close to 1 500 metres per second, breaking their fins and deflecting them from their flight path with concentrated blasts, forcing them to smash into the ground within 150m of the point they were to hit, Moore added.

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Saab Grintek acquires TAE division