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Israel and Russia introducing new lethal ‘street fighting’ tanks

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Just weeks after Russia deployed streetfighting Terminator tanks to Syria, now Israel has unveiled its own urban warfare tank.

Israel’s Namer isn’t exactly a tank: it’s a 66-ton armored personnel carrier derived from the chassis of the Merkava IV tank, but minus the turret. It can carry a crew of three plus nine infantrymen, and carry them under tank-like protection instead of the weaker armor of most troop carriers. But armed with only a couple of machine guns, it lacked firepower.

Now Israel is testing beefed-up weaponry on the Namer. The upgrade is a 30-millimeter cannon in an unmanned turret. Thus the upgraded vehicle will have the armor protection of a tank, but the firepower of an infantry fighting vehicle more like the Bradley, BMP or Puma.

Why the extra firepower? The same reason that Russia is testing T-72 tanks converted into Terminator 2 support vehicles armed with cannon and anti-tank missiles. Chastened by losing numerous armored vehicles in urban combat during the early conflict in Chechnya, Russia wants a tank-like vehicle that can support and protect regular tanks in city streets. For its part, facing combat in the alleys of Gaza and the villages of southern Lebanon, Israel wants a troop carrier with sufficient armor and armament to survive a street fight.

“An APC equipped with a turret and cannon gives it an advantage during urban warfare,” said Brig.-Gen. Baruch Matzliach, head of the Tank Program Administration, according to the Jerusalem Post. “The shortened cannon makes it more maneuverable, and [gives it] the ability to provide firepower to infantry soldiers. It also lets infantry soldiers be more independent on the battlefield, with less dependence on other units to provide firepower.”

Like the Merkava, the Namer is protected by the Trophy active defense system to stop anti-tank rockets. However, the weapons and protection won’t compromise the vehicle’s troop-carrying mission. “The turret is unmanned and does not penetrate the combat cell so that the ability to carry soldiers is not harmed,” Matzliach said. “Its operation is expected to be simple and will be performed by the APC’s crew. The turret will also incorporate an active defense system and additional systems that will greatly contribute to its capabilities.”

In addition, Israel is also adding a turret to beef up the firepower of the Eitan—Israel’s equivalent of the U.S. Stryker. “The Eitan will also come equipped with an FN MAG [machine gun], .50 caliber heavy machine gun, a 30mm cannon with a range of 2,500 meters and a missile launcher that can be operated without crew members leaving the vehicle and exposing themselves to the enemy,” the Jerusalem Post said. Though lacking the thick armor of the Namer, the wheeled troop carrier will have the Trophy active protection system against anti-tank rockets.

At 66 tons, a Namer weighs twice as much as a Bradley and triple the weight of a BMP-3. Yet the IDF clearly feels that there is a role for what is essentially a cross between a tank and an armored personnel carrier.

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U.S. Commandos Want This Technology for Special Forces Raids

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For Dungeons & Dragons roleplayers, part of the fun of make-believe adventure is searching for hidden chambers where the monsters keep their treasure. For that matter, it’s a familiar theme in horror movies to have villains and vampires pop out from behind walls and bookcases.

But for U.S. commandos, hidden compartments are not entertainment. They are obstacles to a successful mission to capture fugitives, or seize documents and weapons. And on a house raid in hostile territory, there isn’t a lot of time to go tapping on walls to find a stash.

That’s why U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) wants a detector that can quickly spot where the loot is hidden. The goal of the research project is to develop a handheld device that can detect hidden chambers in an average-sized room (168 square feet) and at a range of about 6.5 feet during sensitive site exploitation, or SSE, operations.

The sensor should be able to penetrate to a depth of 2 feet and have enough battery power to run for forty to fifty minutes. However, while it needs to detect hidden spaces, it doesn’t need to scan the contents inside. “It doesn’t have to ‘see’ thru a metal surface/container; the presence of a metal chamber in a wall would be a suspicious indication,” SOCOM says.

Sensors that detect the presence of humans, such as infrared, acoustic or radar, already exist or are being developed. But current technology is either too bulky or too complicated, says SOCOM. But developing a handy device poses technical challenges. SOCOM emphasizes that the sensor must be able to distinguish between normal spaces in a wall, such as the gap between studs, and hidden compartments. It also must be able to function with a variety of building materials, including brick, cinder block, concrete, wood and sheet rock. “The system should be able to distinguish suspicious hidden cinder block openings vs normal cinder block voids in normal wall construction,” SOCOM adds.

And the device has to be easy to use and reliable. “For the operator to be willing to carry/operate an additional system, along with all of his other equipment, the system performance needs to be high; a system with low detection rates or high false detection rates will be left behind,” SOCOM points out.

SOCOM suggests that cutting-edge technologies such as modern radio frequency transmit/receive modules, advanced computer vision algorithms and modern computer processors may enable a solution to be found. The research proposal did contain links to a Wikipedia entry on ground-penetrating radar, and a Florida company called Ground Hound Detection Services that detects the presence of underground utilities before construction begins in an area.

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Persistent Systems unveils new Dual Channel Push-to-Talk (PTT) device for the MPU5

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Persistent Systems, LLC (“Persistent”) announced today that it is unveiling its new Dual Channel Push-to-Talk (“Dual PTT”) accessory for the MPU5. The Dual PTT, said company officials, will allow the MPU5’s audio capabilities to reach their full potential.

The Dual PTT allows the user to quickly and easily select between 16 talk groups as well as control volume levels for each talk group independently. When paired with a stereo headset, the two selected talk groups are heard in the left and right ears, and the volume level in each ear can be controlled independently.

Dual PTT will improve networked communications and eliminate extra legacy radios

With the MPU5 and Dual PTT, a single MPU5 can communicate on two talk groups either independently (by pressing a single PTT button) or simultaneously (by pressing both PTT buttons). In the past, when a user needed to communicate with two different groups (channels) of users, that user needed to carry two separate Land Mobile Radios (LMRs). Therefore, the MPU5 and Dual PTT significantly reduces size, weight, power, and cost (SWaP-C) burdens on users.

This is possible because the MPU5 is an IP radio, where talk groups are multicast addresses, instead of an LMR radio, where channels are different RF frequencies.

Dual PTT will improve networked communications and eliminate extra legacy radios

“It used to be that a commander would have to carry a PRC-148 and a PRC-152,” said Brian Mcdonald, Field Operations Manager at Persistent. “Now the commander just carries the MPU5 and can use the Dual PTT to talk to both groups. Carrying one radio instead of two will both save money as well as reduce the load on the soldier, which is a major selling point with customers,” Mcdonald explained.

The Dual PTT also serves as the interface into the MPU5’s Radio over IP (RoIP) subsystem. Users can tether legacy LMR radio systems to the MPU5, and associate each of those radios with one of the 16 talk groups as a multicast address on the network. When an MPU5 user communicates on that talk group, the MPU5 “keys up” the LMR radio and transmits audio through it.

“For the warfighter, this means one can tether a TACSAT channel on a vehicle to the RoIP port on the MPU5 and talk on TACSAT from within a building or tunnel while carrying only an MPU5 and Dual PTT,” said Dr. Herbert Rubens, Founder and CEO of Persistent. “The MPU5’s RoIP capability is compatible with PRC-148s, PRC-152s, Tactical Satellite (TACSAT), Fires Net, Public Safety LMRs, or standard walkie-talkies, which means, for example, being able to talk to Command Net, Assault Net, Fires Net, etc. whenever it’s suddenly required by the mission.”

Persistent has begun accepting orders for the Dual PTT.

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