Dr. Jan Spannhake
Chief Engineer, Ground Based Self-Protection
Dr. Heinar Hoogland
Project Manager selfprotection ground
Mr Marc Krause
Project Manager Optronics
Today’s defence market, offers numerous superbly engineered, optionally manned and unmanned turret systems which are obtainable internationally to an armoured user community to meet their very varied and in some instances very specific needs. HENSOLDT is proud to deliver high end sensors, detectors and effectors to many of these turret systems users worldwide.
There are over 350 MUSS in service today with the Bundeswehr. Courtesy of PSM
These newer turret systems can mount a wide variety of cannon calibres as main armaments as well as machine guns coaxially and remotely mounted and in many cases this firepower is coupled with an anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) to increase the range and effectiveness of the turret. These capabilities are nowadays fully integrated with the onboard optronic’s and sensors, including fused camera thermal imaging systems. State of the art fire control systems (FCE) ensure weapons system accuracy and in some cases these outputs are further integrated and displayed on the onboard battlefield management system (BMS) crew displays. This powerful combination delivers the winning advantage on the modern battlefield.
To maintain that winning edge a built-in flexibility for future change (future proofing) is always a major consideration in the early development of modern turret systems. A philosophy of change is embedded at the concept stage and then follows a planned through life modification programme. This provides the structure so if urgently needed to respond to a newly identified threat a modification or additional capability can be delivered rapidly to counter the danger. This also acknowledges a constant need for delivery of enhancement of protection for both platform and crew at throughout a platforms life span.
Above: MUSS been fitted to both the Leopard and Challenger MBTs as well as BOXER IFV
for evaluation. (Courtesy of Qinetiq Challenger 2).
Crew protection is always a primary objective of all the platform and turret manufacturers, and in most instances follows a ‘layered modular protective’ approach, this solution being widely used not only for the turret but for the whole platform. This protection can range from upping the base level armour being delivered by the turret shell, with additional options such as spaced bar armour, bolt on armoured ceramic plates, explosive reactive armour, acoustic sensors and in a very few instances an active protection system (APS). All these types of protection when combined (in a designed layer for effect) are the enablers to protect the crew to be as safe as possible when fighting in the turret or for the armoured infantry mounted in the back of the platform transiting the battlefield or when readying to dismount.
Recent events in the Ukraine have highlighted the need for effective, modular protection solutions not only against the ubiquitous rocket propelled grenade (RPG) but similarly against anti- tank guided missiles and laser guided munitions which were shown on the media nightly to be so effective in stopping the Russian AFVs in the early phase of that conflict. Added to this mix is now the tactical UAS which while having been has been used in other recent conflicts, it is in the Ukraine to have been shown when used by tech savvy and skilful operators how extremely lethal to all types of AFVs. So even well designed layered protective solutions will need be modified or changed with immediacy to overcome and meet the challenge of new threats posed by a technically agile adversary.
Below: Threat Alert and Direction.
A HENSOLDT’s core competence has been to recognize a wide range of threats and provide practical optimized solutions to improve the safety and operational effectiveness of combat vehicles and other military platforms. HENSOLDT’s Multifunctional Self-Protection System (MUSS) is now the most advanced, lightweight, cost effective, and practical solution to improve the survivability of Main Battle Tanks (MBT), Infantry Fighting Vehicles (IFV), and Armoured Personnel Carriers (APC) or Combat Support platforms. to be the protective layer against the ATGM and or Laser initiated threats enables
Below: Slew to threat – Function.
The MUSS is one of the few in service Active Protection Systems that was designed in at the concept stage to a latest generation of IFV namely the SPz Puma. The MUSS design is modular a key enabler when it comes to modification or change to (MUSS) APS without major impacts to its host platform performance. Today MUSS has a defined technology road map to meet a customer’s future needs to protect against modern anti-tank threats.
Below: Threat indicated in reticle box .
Within that technology roadmap is the development plan for integration with other systems which could vastly improve the platform ability to survive during high intensity warfare.
This is being demonstrated presently using a high performance LSAS namely the HENSOLDT See Through Armour System (SETAS) fitted initially as a core LSAS system which then becomes ‘capability bearer.’
The SETAS provides a 360 degree uninterrupted vision in both Visual and IR around the platform via the SETAS Central Image Processing Unit (CIPU) which is able to manage internal and external feeds and then display them on crew display screens or in individual googles according to the user/crewmember role and needs.
So far SETAS has further incorporated and demonstrated varied additional capabilities which are seen using the SETAS crew viewing monitors and headsets this has included:
* Augmented reality displaying inputting detected threats and user information and then seen as overlays in the users viewing systems
* Switching between the SETAS camera systems and the platform SENSORs of field of view (FoV).
* Military symbols from the NATO map library or a
* Battle Field Management System overlays.
* UGV Sensor feeds
* UAS sensor inputs
* The use of Artificial Intelligence through the Pearson Engineering Threat Sense System detecting and classifying air dispersible mines.
* Passive range measurement.
* MUSS threat warning displays. Integration of the MUSS and SETAS displaying the threat detection of Laser and/or Missile Approach warnings from MUSS then being displayed on the crew screens, with an instantaneous slew of the SETAS camera to the direction of attack. This is initiated by single button press or automatically if required and is set up within the CIPU.
Above: Sensor Fusion.
MUSS APS- Flexible Option
Key MUSS differentiators:
* Modular and scalable system for different vehicle types (wheeled and tracked) and missions/ operational requirements against multiple threats for vehicle protection;
* Proven and highly cost-effective solution;
* Reduced Size, Weight and Power (SWaP);
* Undetectable, jam-proof; continuous replenishable electronic countermeasures
* No collateral damage to host vehicle, other platforms, dismounted troops, or local area;
* Easy to integrate, loosely coupled OSA (no significant alteration/ degradation of platform);
* Complementary and can be used with traditional HK APS
* MUSS system roadmap includes interfaces to HK effectors along with improved laser jamming & dazzling, tracking & confirmation sensors, etc. as well SWaP-improvements;
* MUSS interfaces into Command and Control (C2), Situational Awareness (SA), Reconnaissance and Surveillance, and Targeting systems.
MUSS connectivity with other systems and its extremely advantageous SWaP means MUSS can be fitted to most platforms either as part of a fully integrated turret solution or as a stand-alone fit.
Specifically for use against the ATGM, LTD, LRF and LBR threats. The MUSS sensors detect the irradiance plume of the missile at launch, and/or the subsequent flight profile, which then initiates a focussed directed jamming of the missile controls by the MUSS Jammer causing the missile to deviate from it programmed flight and crash.
Similarly, the threat from LRF, LTD and LBR is detected by the MUSS highly sensitive Laser Warner. In case of Laser Guided Munitions and Laser Beam Rider Missiles, the detected threat is countered by instantaneous directable smoke obscuring the platform from the attack.
If required, with the removal of the effectors i.e. the jammer and directable smoke, MUSS can be reconfigured purely as warner system only for ATGM and Laser based threats. This sub-system is known as the HENSOLDT Missile and Laser Threat Alerting System (MILTAS).
Over recent years HENSOLDT has been focussed on making tremendous system improvements of MUSS, not only on the warning sensors, and the software capabilities, but also on the interface (i.a.w. STANAG 4754) and the minimising the SWaP, lowering the total weight of the system below 100kg. The MUSS sensors are viewed as being both compliant to the meeting the requirements of the proposed MAPS and MIPS type architecture.
HENSOLDT is always agile and forward leaning when it comes to the meeting of needs of the user especially in the short term but as an Engineering Systems House HENSOLDT will always maintain a system technology road map, capturing technology updates, modifications, perceived system improvements it will make over the life of the product. The following potential technical upgrades have already been identified:
- Interface with any Hard Kill subsystem
- System of System’s approach connected through same GUI (e.g. integration of MUSS with HENSOLDT’s 360° Situational Awareness SETAS system)
- Counter-UAS, Detection and Destroy
- Hemispherical Coverage of platform against Laser Threats
MUSS is adapted to current and future operational considerations
MUSS sensors are fully passive and have no impact on the vehicle signature. The system does not require any RADARs, which are susceptible to be intercepted and attacked by Anti -Radiation Missile (ARM) or could being jammed. The Softkill-principle detects and counters Laser and guided missile threats in the far field from the vehicle, thus protecting from collateral damage. To maximize the vehicle’s protection level, MUSS can be complemented by a third party Hardkill-component as failsafe and protection against unguided ammunition, in which the MUSS sensors can be used as wake-up signal for the active radar sensors.
MUSS is platform agnostic. It can be easily integrated on any vehicle and can be blended into platform camouflage. The compact and modular design allows the MUSS system to be easily modified or unmounted and reused on a different platform.
The open architecture of MUSS and the many interfaces available in the Central Electronics (Gigabit Ethernet, RS232, MIL-Bus, CAN-Bus) which enables MUSS to easily communicate with other sub-systems.
As a System House, the delivery of customer orientated solutions is a key HENSOLDT capability which provides flexible and future leaning solutions which the user can then adapt to its needs.
HENSOLDT Sensor Suite
It has already been mentioned that HENSOLDT has been conducting considerable amount of work to continue to be flexible in its approach, so to be ready to meet the next iteration of the user’s requirements especially in the area of the HENSOLDT Sensor Suite.
The war in Ukraine has given many of HENSOLDT customers a new focus about the reality of having a digitalised platform that can truly plug and play and to be able incorporate additional sensors i.e. hemispheric sensors or to fit a C-UAS systems in a short period of time truly means the digitalisation of the entire platform. HENSOLDT has focused on the fusion of the data outputs from its own products purely for reasons of access. Recent trials have shown that the SETAS CIPU is extremely versatile and will interface with other products with little engineering effort.
This Sensor Suite approach from HENSOLDT, combining Electro-optics and radar, provides enhanced overarching 360° situational awareness capabilities in a wide spectral range, detecting, classifying and identifying all kind of objects in the surrounding of the vehicle.
HENSOLDT is developing capable sensor-fusion-networks combining all vehicle sensors to provide all relevant information with support of AI (Artificial Intelligence).
With its open architecture the Sensor Suite supports new international architecture standards, i.e. NGVA. It can be linked to all kind of BMS (Battle Management Systems) or Combat Clouds.
The Sensor Suite can enclose the high-performance sensors and systems from the platform and make their data or images available for every user on board and remote. By doing so, the Sensor Suite will bring added value to existing sensor, e.g. using the main sight, if released by the standard user (e.g. commander), to scan the objects from a database, take pictures of the object and perform image analysis by AI algorithms in the background, and finally adding the result to the database. Using this feature e.g. Radar objects could be captures as a visual image and then could be visually identified on monitors.
HENSOLDT views the development of sensor-fusion-networks as the game changer for delivering the operational edge in the near future and are investing in it now.