Thursday, June 28, 2007

Catch a falling Qassam and put it in your pocket...

Always thinking, that's me. It occurred to me that Israel could protect the towns near Gaza from Qassam fire with a high-tech net of high-tensile material, suspended from a series of barrage balloons, so that the missiles would hit the net and either detonate prematurely or be forced to fall short of the population centers.

While looking around for information to confirm or disprove the feasibility of my idea, I came across this really cool post on Ares, the defense tech blog of Aviation Week and Space Technology:

May 16, 2007

One of the biggest threats when fighting asymmetric wars against insurgents -- especially in urban environments -- is posed by the ubiquitous RPG-7 family of rocket-propelled anti-armor weapons. The Netherlands-based TNO Defense, Security and Safety research lab is developing a deceptively simple protection system against RPG-7 attacks: a net.

Specially-designed, specifically-dimensioned, X-knotted and manufactured from advanced superstrong fibers, sure. But still "just" a net.

Nevertheless, TNO claims it has the potential to provide armored vehicles with 90% protection against these deadly missiles, at little cost and almost no extra weight on the vehicle.

The net interacts with an incoming RPG-7 projectile in such a way that it "strangles" and damages the electrical circuit in the nose section. That prevents the electrical pulse sent by the piezo-electric impact fuze in the nose of the RPG-7 round from reaching the detonator, placed further aft.

And that, in turn, means that the shaped charge warhead, which has the capability to penetrate up to 40 cm of steel armor, does not fire.

By passing through the net, the projectile effectively becomes a dud that slams and disintegrates against the vehicle's armor. Any vehicle with an armor level sufficient to protect against small arms fire will be able to survive this impact.

Turns out the net is already in use on fixed installations -- observation posts, mainly -- in Afghanistan. TNO is developing a version to protect vehicles.

Well, if the nets work in protecting fixed targets from RPG fire, it should be possible to extend the principle and elevate it to an altitude band that effectively makes a Qassam hit on a given Israeli town impractical. It's worth a shot, anyway.

Since the TNO people seem to be pretty clever, here's a link to their 2006 Annual Review.

1 comment:

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