JED - December 2016 - 80

TH E H E AT I S O N

Defeat ing ATGM s
By Burt Keirstead

P
The Journal of Electronic Defense | December 2016

80

rior columns have focused on infrared countermeasures for airborne platforms. This month
we'll do a little ground poundin' and look at how
countermeasures have been applied to main battle
tanks. Tanks have been a big part of military history as a means to project force on the ground. In
the modern era, after heavy use of tanks in World War II, the
concept of the Anti-Tank Guided Missile (ATGM) emerged as a
means to thwart tank capability. The Egyptians and Syrians
were notoriously effective during the Arab-Israeli War in the
1970s using Russian-made ATGMs to destroy or disable Israeli
tanks. Today, ATGMs are being used by rebels in Syria, who
are targeting Russian-made government tanks equipped with
Russian-made electronic defense systems.
In 2013, the last American tank temporarily left European soil, more than 20 years after the Soviet Union collapsed.
There didn't seem to be any more need for a US tank in a Europe
where the Iron Curtain was up, the Berlin Wall was down, and
the Fulda Gap scenario, in which the Soviets would invade the
West with their tanks and troops, seemed obsolete.
But, hold the presses; in historic irony, only a year later,
upgraded American Abrams tanks were sent back to Germany
in response to Russia's move into the Ukraine and the general threat that Vladimir Putin's posturing poses to the Baltic
States and NATO. These new developments mean US armored
capability may still be needed "Over There."
At first, it's almost illogical to think about electronic countermeasures for a tank. It's survivability has overwhelmingly
depended on mobility and armor for much of its history.
For years, the dominant threat to a tank in battle was another tank or an anti-tank gun. In World War II, the Allies
had guns, both on the ground and mounted on planes, which
were dedicated to killing tanks. During Desert Storm, the US
Air Force's A-10 aircraft wreaked havoc on Iraqi tanks with its
nose-mounted GAU-8 Gatling gun raining a hail of metal on
targets.
As technology progressed, the guided missile also became
a threat to tanks. The first ATGMs were the French SS-10s and
SS-11s that appeared in the French inventory in the 1950s and
could be fired either dismounted or from a vehicle.

During the 1973 Arab-Israeli war, the Israel Defense
Forces (IDF) learned the hard way about the lethality of an
ATGM. After tank battles with the Egyptians and Syrians,
there were many wires strewn on the battlefield among the
disabled Israeli tanks, a telltale sign that a Soviet-made missile had taken out the tanks. The missile, which has the
NATO name AT-3 Sagger, was the Soviets' first ATGM, and
like its counterpart, the SA-7 that is fired at helicopters, it
proliferated widely. As a first-generation ATGM, an operator
manually guided the Sagger to the target using a joystick,
from which guidance commands were sent to the missile by
wire. The Israelis eventually countered the Saggers by putting a hail of fire on the joystick operators, but not before
losing hundreds of tanks.
Second-generation ATGMs featured improved guidance,
evolving from the Sagger's manual command to line-of-sight
(MCLOS) mode to a semi-automatic command line-of-sight (SACLOS) mode. In a SACLOS missile system, the gunner sights
the tank through an optical system that is collocated with the
missile launcher. Once fired from its tube, the missile is guided
to the target by a controller that makes a comparison of the
tank's location in the optical sight to the missile's position in
flight. The difference is computed, and the missile's course is
automatically adjusted by transmitting the necessary course
corrections over a wire that pays out behind the missile. The
missile's position is always known because there is a beacon in
the rear of the missile, transmitting back to the launch point,
enabling the difference between the current and desired trajectories to be computed. Most SACLOS ATGMs are wire guided,
but some use an infrared beacon instead of a wire link to transmit the guidance data.
One clear advantage to the SACLOS approach is that the
operator doesn't have to guide the missile all the way in to
the target using the joystick. He is therefore less susceptible
to counter-fire, and more likely to hit the target. The US TOW
(Tube-Launched, Optically Tracked, Wire Guided) missile is a
SACLOS ATGM that is currently being used by rebels in the Syrian conflict.
In thinking about top-level jamming requirements to defeat a SACLOS ATGM, it's instructive to contrast them with the



JED - December 2016

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of JED - December 2016

The View From Here
Conferences Calendar
Courses Calendar
From the President
The Monitor
Washington Report
World Report
Interview: Col Jeffrey N. Aldridge, USAF
Interview: US Rep. Joe Pitts
The Future of Airborne Electronic Attack
Regaining the Advantage – Cognitive Electronic Warfare
Technology Survey: Flightline and Portable EW Simulators
AOC EW Singapore Preview
New Products
Report from the 2016 EW GCC Conference
Crows in the Community
The Heat is On
EW 101
Report from the 2016 AOC CEMA Conference
2016 AOC Award Winners
AOC News
Index of Advertisers
JED Quick Look
JED - December 2016 - cover1
JED - December 2016 - cover2
JED - December 2016 - 3
JED - December 2016 - 4
JED - December 2016 - 5
JED - December 2016 - The View From Here
JED - December 2016 - 7
JED - December 2016 - Conferences Calendar
JED - December 2016 - 9
JED - December 2016 - Courses Calendar
JED - December 2016 - 11
JED - December 2016 - From the President
JED - December 2016 - 13
JED - December 2016 - 14
JED - December 2016 - The Monitor
JED - December 2016 - insert1
JED - December 2016 - insert2
JED - December 2016 - 16
JED - December 2016 - 17
JED - December 2016 - 18
JED - December 2016 - 19
JED - December 2016 - 20
JED - December 2016 - 21
JED - December 2016 - 22
JED - December 2016 - 23
JED - December 2016 - 24
JED - December 2016 - 25
JED - December 2016 - Washington Report
JED - December 2016 - 27
JED - December 2016 - World Report
JED - December 2016 - 29
JED - December 2016 - Interview: Col Jeffrey N. Aldridge, USAF
JED - December 2016 - 31
JED - December 2016 - 32
JED - December 2016 - 33
JED - December 2016 - Interview: US Rep. Joe Pitts
JED - December 2016 - 35
JED - December 2016 - 36
JED - December 2016 - 37
JED - December 2016 - The Future of Airborne Electronic Attack
JED - December 2016 - 39
JED - December 2016 - 40
JED - December 2016 - 41
JED - December 2016 - 42
JED - December 2016 - 43
JED - December 2016 - 44
JED - December 2016 - 45
JED - December 2016 - 46
JED - December 2016 - 47
JED - December 2016 - 48
JED - December 2016 - 49
JED - December 2016 - 50
JED - December 2016 - 51
JED - December 2016 - 52
JED - December 2016 - 53
JED - December 2016 - 54
JED - December 2016 - 55
JED - December 2016 - Regaining the Advantage – Cognitive Electronic Warfare
JED - December 2016 - 57
JED - December 2016 - 58
JED - December 2016 - 59
JED - December 2016 - 60
JED - December 2016 - 61
JED - December 2016 - 62
JED - December 2016 - Technology Survey: Flightline and Portable EW Simulators
JED - December 2016 - 64
JED - December 2016 - 65
JED - December 2016 - 66
JED - December 2016 - 67
JED - December 2016 - 68
JED - December 2016 - 69
JED - December 2016 - 70
JED - December 2016 - AOC EW Singapore Preview
JED - December 2016 - 72
JED - December 2016 - 73
JED - December 2016 - New Products
JED - December 2016 - 75
JED - December 2016 - Report from the 2016 EW GCC Conference
JED - December 2016 - 77
JED - December 2016 - Crows in the Community
JED - December 2016 - 79
JED - December 2016 - The Heat is On
JED - December 2016 - 81
JED - December 2016 - 82
JED - December 2016 - 83
JED - December 2016 - 84
JED - December 2016 - 85
JED - December 2016 - EW 101
JED - December 2016 - 87
JED - December 2016 - 88
JED - December 2016 - 89
JED - December 2016 - Report from the 2016 AOC CEMA Conference
JED - December 2016 - 91
JED - December 2016 - 92
JED - December 2016 - 2016 AOC Award Winners
JED - December 2016 - 94
JED - December 2016 - 95
JED - December 2016 - 96
JED - December 2016 - 97
JED - December 2016 - 98
JED - December 2016 - 99
JED - December 2016 - AOC News
JED - December 2016 - 101
JED - December 2016 - 102
JED - December 2016 - 103
JED - December 2016 - 104
JED - December 2016 - Index of Advertisers
JED - December 2016 - JED Quick Look
JED - December 2016 - cover3
JED - December 2016 - cover4
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