New armored vehicles to destroy RPGs in midair

Rocket-propelled grenades, probably best known for their supporting roles in various Michael Bay movies, are a real and ever-present danger to armored vehicles in Iraq and Afghanistan. It's a tough problem: How do you stop an explosive that's about to hit your Humvee in a tenth of a second? You don't — you let DARPA's Iron Curtain system do it for you.

Mounted atop a vehicle, the Iron Curtain has three essential parts: a radar to detect the incoming RPG, an optical sensor that can scan the weapon and determine the best place to strike within half an inch, and an explosive countermeasure that destroys the RPG a fraction of second before it hits. The nature of the countermeasure prevents the RPG warhead from exploding properly; check out the video after the jump that shows a Iron Curtain-equipped Humvee being blasted five times with RPGs with virtually no damage.

The U.S. Army just approved $8 million in funding for the system, and plans are underway to test Iron Curtain in the field in July 2010. We're impressed with the potential efficacy of this system, but wonder if the same result could be achieved with something less sophisticated (and cheaper). Equipping every armored vehicle with a radar-driven search-and-destroy system just sounds a little pricey, and some say that special cloth shielding could also be an effective RPG stopper.

Via Danger Room