Manufacturer: GROUPE SNPE  
Product type: Ballistic Protection  
Name: Explosive reactive armour  


Since the early 1970s SNPE has been engaged in the design, development and production of Explosive Reactive Armour (ERA) systems for installation on a wide range of armoured vehicles to improve their battlefield survivability.

SNPE are now co-operating with Giat Industries on the development and production of explosive reactive armour systems for light and medium armoured vehicles.

From 1977, SNPE undertook evaluation of the first locally produced ERA compositions and from the 1980s, co-operation was undertaken with French government establishments and industry.

From 1989, extensive co-operation took place between SNPE and Kaman of the USA to develop a new generation of ERA systems called Advanced Reactive Armour (ARA) or Advanced Energetic Armour (AEA).

SNPE, which specialises in the field of high explosives and propellants for a wide range of civil and military applications, has developed a new family of insensitive energetic materials which replace traditional high explosives used in most types of ERA.

The new ARA is based on the very low sensitivity of the cast-bonded explosive (CAST PBX), developed by SNPE as well as the specific internal architecture of the cassettes.

The customised CAST PBX compositions meet a number of military specifications according to SNPE including:

(1) Physico chemical and mechanical characteristics

(2) Detonic characteristics

(3) Non-porosity

(4) Insensitivity

(5) Non-combustibility when impacted by piercing munitions

(6) Ageing resistance.

According to SNPE, the latest development in the ARA provides a significant new upgrade for existing vehicles as well as modular protection for new build tanks and other armoured fighting vehicles.

The internal design of the cassette and the nature of its components vary according to the anticipated threats, angles of attack and the location of the plate on the various parts of the vehicle.

Some systems may use a single type of cassette while others may require several types of cassette and even include inert elements.

The use of certain passive materials or the inclusion of inert materials fulfils a double objective of first contributing to the destruction of the shaped charged jet - especially the front portion of the jet which has not been absorbed due to the reaction time delay of the reactive cassette - and second, to the lessening of the mechanical impact of the reactive cassette's metal backplate.

Due to the mastering of the rear and collateral effects, the ARA can protect both heavy (for example MBT) and light (for example APC) vehicles from various types of shaped charge weapons and medium calibre kinetic energy projectiles.

As well as developing ARA systems for MBTs such as the M48 and M60, SNPE has also developed systems for lightly armoured vehicles such as the Russian Federation and Associated States BMP-3 infantry fighting vehicle and the widely deployed US M113 series of armoured personnel carriers.

While the French Army adopted the Giat Industries BS G2 ERA system for its AMX-30 B2 MBTs, the explosive used in this system was supplied by SNPE.

SNPE and Kaman formed a joint company called AEMC (Advanced Energetic Material Corporation) to design, develop and manufacture ARA systems for the US market. This joint company was formed mainly to compete for a new armour system for installation on the United Defense LP, M2 Bradley infantry fighting vehicle.

There were three companies bidding for this contract, but in the end the competition was won by Lockheed Martin teamed with RAFAEL Armament Development Authority of Israel. SNPE is now developing and marketing ARA on its own for the world market.

More recently, the US Army has held a competition for an ERA system for its APC and SNPE was one of the companies known to have supplied ERA systems for a series of trials in the United States. The RAFAEL Armament Development Authority of Israel also supplied an ERA system for these trials.


The add-on protection system developed by SNPE comprises a sandwich consisting of energetic sheets between metal plates.

These sandwiches are mounted inside metal boxes called cassettes which are attached to the hull and turret of the vehicle, normally over the frontal arc.

When one of the cassettes is hit by a shaped charge hot jet before it damages the main armour of the vehicle.

Among the SNPE explosives that can be used, some are called locally active, meaning the reaction of the explosive when hit by the shaped charge is proportional to the energy procured by the shaped charge.

The level of energy released by the system is minimised and does not provoke damage to the light structure.

This is of particular advantage for lighter armoured vehicles which do not suffer from the full reaction of the explosive producing rear and collateral effects, sometimes with dramatic effects on the vehicle's hull and occupants.

According to SNPE, numerous shaped charge attacks are defeated by this ARA ranging from small infantry shoulder-type rocket launchers, for example the RFAS RPG-7, anti-tank guided weapons and air-launched missiles. It is also insensitive to attack by napalm and flame throwers.

In addition, small arms projectiles up to 30 mm in calibre, artillery and mortar fragments have no effect on the cassettes.

Heavy AFV

In mid-1994, SNPE was awarded a significant contract from an undisclosed country for the supply of an ERA system for a heavy armoured vehicle, believed to be an upgraded M48 or M60 series MBT.

M113 series

For this family of vehicles, SNPE has developed two kits, one for the M113A1/M113A2 and one for the more recent M113A3. These kits provide the vehicle with protection from both Chemical Energy (CE) and Kinetic Energy (KE) attack.

These kits have a mounting system that is composed of steel frames bolted onto the hull of the vehicle. The explosive reactive armour cassettes are then attached to these frames using hinge pins and bolts. This allows the crew to install the armour package onto the vehicle without any special equipment.


Production. In service with undisclosed countries.

Included in:
Product Amount
M113 (Tracked armoured personnel carrier)
M60 (Main battle tank)

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