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Reactive armor deflects blasts away from tank crews

Soldiers tested installing reactive armor to beef up their tanks in Germany recently, according to the Army.

Tank and maintenance crews from 1st Battalion, 66th Armor Regiment, installed the Abrams reactive armor tile to better protect the tanks and the crew members.

The crews are part of the 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division.

The angled tiles, which are installed on both sides of the hull and turret, cause a blast to go downward or upward. This means an impact — from a rocket-propelled grenade, for example — will deflect outward instead of at the tank crew.

Capt. James England, commander of the ABCT's Company B at Grafenwoehr Training Area, Germany, said the armor package is designed to be installed using tools that are organic to the field maintenance teams attached to each tank company.

"Having a system like the [Abrams reactive armor tile], that is easily deployable, and can be installed by the end user adds another layer of capabilities to our tanks when the mission conditions call for it," he told Army Times via email.

The reactive armor tiles push blasts upward or downward, deflecting them away from soldiers inside the tanks.

Photo Credit: Chaplain (Capt.) Malcolm Rios/Army

The 3rd ABCT is the initial ABCT rotational force in support of Atlantic Resolve, an effort for the United States to demonstrate its commitment to NATO, especially in Central and Eastern Europe.

"I believe that we were chosen to showcase that the system could be easily shipped to a unit, staged away from home station, and installed by a tank platoon very quickly upon receiving the components using nothing more than their standard tools and equipment," England said.

First Sgt. Ryan Dilling, senior noncommissioned officer of Company B, said augmenting the armor serves as a deterrent to aggression against the U.S. and NATO partners while deploying stronger tanks for training.

The testing included installing and removing the tiles so the unit could get familiar with how the system works. Maintenance workers with Tank-automotive and Armaments Command welded the brackets to hold the tiles on the tanks, then tank crews installed the reactive tiles onto the brackets.

"[It] adds to the tanks' already impressive protection package by increasing its security against shape charge warheads, which includes antitank gun rounds, missiles and rockets," England said. "Essentially, the weapons we face on the modern battlefield."

England said the soldiers gave positive feedback on the reactive armor.

"They appreciated the ease in which the system was able to be assembled and installed," he told Army Times. "The fact that the system makes getting onto the tank easier was also a welcomed bonus."

Charlsy Panzino covers the Guard and Reserve, training, technology, operations and features for Army Times and Air Force Times. Email her at  

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