Alternatives to Slat Armor (03/25/2005 entry)
The special “slat armor” on the U.S. Army’s new Stryker wheeled armored vehicle was supposed to stop 73 percent of RPG attacks. But actual experience has shown that only 50 percent of RPGs were stopped.
That’s quite interesting. First of all, I’m only aware of three Strykers lost to enemy action: One to an IED when the resulting fire could not be put out, one to an RPG which ignited a fuel can stored outside the hull, and possibly one to RPG fire in the big August 4th fight in Mosul. I’ve read various accounts that talk of scores of RPG hits on Strykers.
I’m wondering what “stopped” means when they say that the slat armor has only stopped 50% of the RPGs. Does that mean penetration of the Stryker hull by the warhead jet? Full penetration? How big of a hole?
For the record, the way that the slat armor is supposed to function is: The RPG warhead hits the “bird cage”-like slat armor and detonates at a distance from the armored hull rather than against the hull armor. This means that the jet of molten metal from the RPG’s HEAT shaped-charge warhead must travel the distance from the slat armor to the hull armor and is then turned aside by the hull armor.
As far as I’ve been able to gather, the slat armor has worked splendidly. The official story concerning the first Stryker lost to RPG fire is that the slat armor defeated the warhead, but that an external fuel can was ignited by the debris and the fire could not be extinguished in time to save the vehicle. The second incident, in the August 4th Mosul night fight, had a large number of RPG hits on the same vehicle in a short period of time. It isn’t very clear if that Stryker was indeed lost, though, and I haven’t been able to confirm either way.
Other defensive options are being looked at, including explosive reactive armor and guns, missiles, or lasers to shoot down incoming warheads.