35 years ago, the Israeli armed forces, the IDF, were the first in the world to use tanks equipped with mounted dynamic protection systems (NKDZ) in combat conditions.
The history of the creation of dynamic protection in the domestic sense or explosive reactive armor (ERA) according to the foreign, English-language classification began in the USSR about 70 years ago, in the late 40s - early 50s in the bowels of the top-secret Soviet "defense" in the form scattered experimental attempts with the help of counter-explosion energy to counteract cumulative munitions. The most impressive results were obtained in 1957-1961 by BV Voitsekhovsky and VL Istomin at the Novosibirsk Institute of Hydrodynamics. Due to the secrecy of the work carried out, the article of these authors was published in the open press only in 2000 ("Physics of Combustion and Explosion"), when one of them was no longer alive. The first dissertation on dynamic defense was successfully defended in the early 60s by AI Platov, an employee of the All-Russian Research Institute of Steel, who is also no longer among us. He took an active part in the above studies. Despite more than 50 years that have passed since that time, Alexander Ivanovich's dissertation is still not in the public domain. In it, the main parameters of devices that implement a plane-parallel circuit of dynamic protection elements (EDS) and contain a flat explosive charge lined with metal plates are quite fully investigated.
In 1978, a design and research department 32 (dynamic protection) was created at VNII Steel. The main task assigned to its employees was not just the study of general issues of the interaction of the cumulative jet with the dynamic protection device, but the study of two main options for the EDS (plane-parallel and volumetric) with the choice of the optimal design parameters of both the EDS themselves and the schemes of its placement on the armored vehicle. Therefore, when in the summer of 1982 an Israeli M48A3 tank with an ERA Blazer explosive reactive armor complex, captured by the Syrians during a night battle in the Sultan-Yaakuba area, was delivered to the USSR, this was not a revelation for the employees of the All-Russian Research Institute of Steel. All the advantages and disadvantages of the ERA Blazer complex were obvious and understandable to the Soviet developers of reactive armor.
In this regard, at a scientific and technical meeting held at the All-Russian Research Institute of Steel based on the results of studying the M48A3 with the ERA Blazer complex, it was decided not to copy the Israeli analog, but to complete the previously started work on optimizing the mounted dynamic protection device based on a single unified EDZ, which later was assigned the index 4C20.
The main advantages of the EDZ 4S20 of the Soviet NKDZ "Contact" over the EDZ used by the Israelis in the ERA Blazer complex were:
unification. A single EDZ 4S20 was installed on all protected armored parts of the main tanks. The Israeli M48 and M60 tanks equipped with the ERA Blazer had more than ten EDZs of various sizes;
lower (by 25–27%) specific (per unit of protected area) mass;
significantly smaller area of weakened zones. At least eight percent of the design of each ERA Blazer EDZ was free of explosives. When the cumulative jet hit these zones, the EDZ did not work. In "Contact" there were no more than one percent of such zones;
the possibility of various combinations of the installation of EDZ on the protected armored object. Structural dimensions made it possible to design NKDZ "Contact" in relation to each armored unit of a particular tank so as to provide the maximum possible overlapping area of the protected projection;
the ability to control the transfer of detonation from the explosives of one EDZ to the explosives of another. The technical solutions incorporated into the design of the 4S20 NKDZ and the subsequent EDZ 4S22 of the built-in ERA complex, allow, depending on the specific requirements, either to localize the explosive detonation process within one EDZ, or to transfer it from one EDZ to another, thereby ensuring a consistent response several EDZ. This sets in motion steel plates that destroy a cumulative jet or an armor-piercing sub-caliber projectile (BPS) of such a length that provides a sufficient effect on both the BPS and monoblock and tandem ammunition (these technical solutions were protected by an international patent);
greater safety in handling EDZ. Apparently, the design of the ERA Blazer EDZ complex was created in an extremely short time and without due attention to compliance with safety requirements for explosive products. The author of these lines had a chance to personally observe at the bottom of the onboard toolboxes installed on the hull of the captured M48A3, puddles of elastic explosive that leaked out of the ERA Blazer EDZ hull under the influence of high June temperatures in the battle zone in the Sultan-Yaakuba area. Of course, it is difficult to talk about the high anti-cumulative effectiveness of the Israeli complex if the explosive has partially leaked out of the EDZ installed in it. The fact that in EDZ 4S20, 4S22 this is simply impossible, needless to say.
All of the above design differences allowed the developers of Soviet dynamic protection in 1995 to obtain two patents, reissued from the previously secret copyright certificates. Patents No. 2060438 and No. 2064650 provide copyright protection for the developers of Soviet dynamic protection for original innovative technical solutions incorporated into the design of domestic EDZ and Contact complexes.
The author considered it his duty to set out the above technical details in order to protect the dignity of the developers of the Soviet reactive armor, about whom it was written without proof in the publication "Steel for Wounds" that they "adopted the concept of creating" the Israeli ERA Blazer complex and the design features of the flat EDZ. The concept of creating Soviet reactive armor began to be developed 30-35 years before the first Lebanese war, in which the IDF used tanks with an ERA Blazer. Many developers of domestic reactive armor, including several candidates and doctors of science, are no longer alive, and they cannot adequately respond to such remarks, as well as to statements of the derogatory type “it turned out to be incomprehensible for the specialists of the Research Institute of Steel”.
The Israeli ERA Blazer complex was most likely created by foreign specialists led by Meir Mayseless in the very late 70s - early 80s, that is, approximately 25-30 years after the work performed in the USSR at the Institute of Hydrodynamics and the All-Russian Research Institute Become. It is possible that during the mass repatriation of Soviet Jewish scientists, some of the information about our research was available to Israeli scientists and engineers. I would also like to inform the readers of the "VPK" that in the mid-90s, during a visit to the All-Russian Research Institute of Steel, the creator of the German reactive armor, an outstanding ballistic scientist Manfred Held, having familiarized himself with the "top secret" reports on R&D carried out in the USSR in the 40-60s, recognized the Soviet priority in the development of explosive reactive armor.
And more - about technology
More than 30 years have passed since the adoption of the first ERA systems - the Israeli ERA Blazer and the Soviet "Contact". An entire era. During this time, both the methods of armed struggle and the technical means intended for it have radically changed. Accordingly, the role and place of dynamic protection in the protection of armored vehicles. But this is a completely different topic.
The author of the letter relied only on generally known information published in open sources. It would be reasonable and fair to remove the secrecy label from works thirty years or more ago, so that the country finally learns about the creators of the defense potential, many of whom still remain unnamed. Immediately there would be less unsubstantiated speculation and derogatory reviews about the work of outstanding domestic scientists and engineers.