Once a year, the russian federation mentions that they still have a Soviet development of the Arena ERA. This complex should intercept the ammunition on the approach to the armored vehicle and thereby ensure its protection.
And it was drawn in the USSR in the 70s under the research and design work Shatyor. In 1982, the first sample of the Soviet reactive armor complex went to the test site, but the work was not completed before the collapse of the USSR. And since then, it has been in the stage of development.
Defense Express reminds that the work on the development of the Soviet ERA was carried out since the 60s, and the first sample is the Drozd, which ended up on several experimental T-80U’s, one of which was destroyed in Sumy Oblast back in March of last year.
In particular, russian mass media stated today that the Arena-M on the T-72 tank successfully passed the test. And the representatives of the developer reported that "at the moment, the issue of adopting the Arena-M ERA into service as part of the T-72 tank is at the final stage". They also added that the T-90 and T-80 should receive it in the future.
At the same time, it is possible to find older articles. In particular, in September 2022, russia’s Ministry of Defense reported that in the future russian tanks will be with the Arena ERA. Although in 2019 they said that the T-72B3 with the Arena installed had already been tested and even showed photos.
In 2017, according to the general director of russia’s Mechanical Design Bureau, the Arena-M is actively tested and will soon be on T-72 and T-90 tanks. The same ERA, in this modernized version, was previously demonstrated in 2015, stating that it was about to be adopted with the army. Back in 2013, it had been also shown with the same statements.
And before that, russians with no less enthusiasm publicly demonstrated the previous version of the Arena in the form of a separate block above the turret, which somewhat resembled a birdhouse, since 1997. At the same time, it was proposed to install it on the BMP-3.
Defense Express notes that during the existence of the ERA development, which has been undergoing testing since 1982, the actual state of affairs has changed little. The main problems in the development of ERA complex are not in its placement, or in the presence of striking elements or in radar or optical inspection systems, but in the speed of reaction and the ability to distinguish a threat.
In particular, the speed of a modern sub-caliber projectile is 1.5 km/s. In the range of the ERA radar, which is measured in tens of meters, it will be in hundredths of a second when the system should see it, calculate the trajectory, and then give the command to shoot the striking element. For the first version of the Arena the reaction speed was declared at the level of 0.07 seconds, which was not enough to intercept targets with a speed of more than 700 m/s.
The second problem of ERA complexes is the risk of damage by the complex itself to its own infantry, which is located near armored vehicles. And the third factor is its price.
Apparently, russia’s Ministry of Defense has significantly reduced its requirements for development. For example, we are not talking about intercepting sub-caliber armor-piercing projectiles, but only about anti-tank missiles. Requirements for the safety of own infantry could also be removed, given the absence of human resources shortage. And in this case, Arena ERA can really be supplied to the russian troops, since this reactive armor is worse in terms of its capabilities than the one that had been designed in the USSR.