Protection Gear

Add-on armour is a cheaper and effective solution on the battlefield against mean machines such as RPGs

Jaison Deepak

The proliferation of anti-armour threats ranging from small arms, cheap but very effective shoulder-fired Rocket Propelled Grenade (RPGs), to sophisticated Anti-Tank Missiles with High Explosive Anti-Tank (HEAT) warheads has meant a stronger threat to men and machines on the battlefield. Add-on armour provides an affordable, modular and effective solution to the most common threats, making sure operational vehicles are still in the game. Add-on armour is not a new concept; during World War II tank crews used readily available material to mitigate the threat from infantry weapons. Material such as scrap metal, wood, concrete, wire meshes and sandbags were used as improvised armour.

TATA’s armoured fighting vehicle during DefExpo 2016

Metal Applique Armour

These usually consist of thin hard steel plates which can be bolted on to the surface of the vehicle to improve protection, especially against small arms. They are usually brittle and need a backing material which is usually the base armour/body of the vehicle. Tata Steel has been collaborating with the UK ministry of defence (MoD) to provide perforated super bainite steel as add-on armour to vehicles in the British army. Tata Steel has received orders from a number of countries worldwide including Germany, France, the US and India. This revolutionary armour steel, formerly known as Super Bainite, has also undergone a number of design improvements and taken on a new brand name, PAVISE™ SBS 600P. The armour can upgrade the protection to STANAG level 4 offering protection against all small arms including armour piercing 14.5mm HMG rounds.

Ceramic/Composite Armour

Ceramic armour is an alternative albeit a lighter and more expensive one to steel. The most commonly used ceramic is Boron Carbide. The ceramic plate breaks up the projectile or disrupts a HEAT warhead by its compressive strength and the fragments which are absorbed by a tougher backing layer or base plate of the vehicle. Several manufacturers offer ceramic tiles which are mounted on a vehicle base steel armour, the General Dynamics stryker, for example, uses ceramic armour tiles mounted on the base steel armour. Ceramic armour is more often combined with a high toughness backing material like aramids to make a laminate, which is a type of composite armour.




Advanced Modular Armour Protection (AMAP) developed by  IBD Deisenroth Engineering of Germany has been popular with European countries. It comes in different variants of heavy vehicles like the Leopard-2 and lighter vehicles like the Boxer, Puma. Composhield and Plasan are the other two companies providing up-armouring solutions for western armies, the plasan Sandcat being a successful example.

The Indian company MKU has provided up-armouring solutions tailored for different vehicles. It has also developed composite applique armour tailored for the BMP-2. The package has armour panels for the front bottom, sponsons, skirts and the rear door.

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