reactive_montage.JPGThe U.S. Army wants to protect its Bradley fighting vehicles -- by strapping dozens of Israeli explosives to their skins.The idea behind "reactive armor" is to blow up a roadside bomb or rocket propelled grenade just before it reaches the vehicle. The Israeli military pioneered the concept in the 1970's. American tanks have had been outfitted with it for years. And now, Bradleys in Iraq are being rushed the armor, too, Defense News reports.The add-on armor... consists of 105 tiles that attach to the sides, the turret and the front of each Bradley. Each tile has a small explosive charge that can destroy the warhead of an attacking missile or rocket.The idea is to apply chemical energy against chemical energy, an official within [Israeli firm] Rafaels armored systems directorate. These tiles contain a very special, insensitive explosive that is detonated only when hit by a missile or a rocket. For safety reasons, our armor does not react to other heat sources such as small arms or other fragments. When it detonates, the action of the elements inside the tiles interact with the incoming jet of the warhead, and defeats it...The armored systems directorate official noted that Rafael provided add-on armor for the U.S. Marine Corps AAV7 amphibious assault vehicles used during major combat operations in Iraq earlier last year. THERE'S MORE: "I'd be leery of taking these into situations where large numbers of noncombatants might find themselves near [reactive armored] vehicles," says Defense Tech reader JA. "An RPG hit that triggered one of these panels might not penetrate the vehicle but I suspect the potential for exacerbating collateral casualties might give one pause. Or it will after Al-Jazeera trumpets it from the minarets."Meanwhile, reader MS points us to this online primer on reactive armor.AND MORE: "The story here," says reader DP, "is that the cheapskate Army under [chief of staff Eric] Shinseki squandered billions on handfuls of Stryker truck deathtraps and didn't even come close to buying enough [reactive armor."

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