One of the coolest gagdets James Bond ever had was the smoke screen that gushed out of the back of his Aston Martin, leaving Goldfinger's minions behind, choking and confused.Now, a South African defense firm is teaming up with Saab to provide the same kind of protection to tanks and armored vehicles. A set of sensors, the companies claim, will pick up the signature of a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) launcher. In less than a second, the Land Electronic Defence System 100 "will dispatch four smoke canisters covering the tank or vehicle and making it impossible for the attacker's missile to trace the vehicle," SABC news notes."The screen will obscure the attackers line of sight and give the vehicle and occupants a chance to get behind cover," says a Grintek Defence press release. Because the smoke obscures more than just the visibile spectrum, it "cannot be penetrated by thermal imaging equipment used to aim weapons or guide missiles."But you can expect to see George Lazenby return as 007 before this gizmo is deployed on American armor. Picking up the signature of an RPG is beyond tough. And even if the smoke can be shot out in a second -- a big if -- these big vehicles don't exactly accelerate like an Aston Martin. The Abrams battle tank, for example, takes seven seconds to go from zero to twenty miles per hour.THERE'S MORE: The smoke screen might "have some utility in defeating an ATGM [anti-tank guided missile], but against an RPG it would only prevent the crew from seeing what was about to hit it," says Defense Tech reader JA. An RPG is a "fire and forget" weapon, he notes. "Once launched they travel to point of aim, or somewhat near it, without any further input from an operator. An ATGM, on the other hand, does, in general, require course guidance input from an operator and smoke systems are of some utility against them."This assumes that the crew recognizes that something is inbound and moves the vehicle," however. "If they sit still, then they blow up in complete privacy."
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