The Abrams is getting an invisibility cloak against missiles

The U.S. Army is making progress on a modular system for blinding and tricking incoming missiles, thereby protecting vehicles, tanks, and soldiers.

Abrams-tank-M1-Fighting our nation's wars: one 50lb round at a time

A system under development by the U.S. Army would make tanks like this one impossible for anti-tank missiles to pin down. (Photo: U.S. Army)

The Modular Active Protection System employs a “soft-kill” method for defeating tank killers. It only works on weapons that use sensors, and it tricks those sensors into losing track of the tank or by offering it fake tank signatures to chase.

So, it’s a combination: equal parts invisibility cloak, smoke screen, and decoy system. And it can work in conjunction with a hard-kill system that literally shoots down the incoming rounds if they aren’t tricked or blinded.

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Hard-kill systems are generally cooler looking than the soft kill ones. (Photo: Raytheon Company)

The hard kill is necessary even if the soft kill system is perfect because many weapons, like most rocket-propelled grenades, don’t have any sensors to spoof. But the system would work against most modern anti-tank missiles which are led to their target by a laser or follow the tanks infrared or electronic signatures.

Russia’s T-14 Armata Main Battle Tank is protected by its own active protection systems, according to Russian state media. The Armata’s protections are allegedly even strong enough to intercept depleted uranium sabot shells fired from the M1 Abrams and other NATO tanks.

If U.S. Abrams and other vehicles don’t get their own protections, they could find themselves outmatched in future armored conflict even if they aren’t outgunned. The Modular Active Protection System could put American crews on equal footing.

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