The Sri Lanka Army has lessons to learn in terms of protecting armoured columns and tanks against insurgents/guerrillas/terrorists in urban, lightly-built-up and open terrains. This will be necessary in order to avert a disaster of the nature of Omanthai I.
The Israeli Defence Forces’ pride, the Merkava-4 (God's Chariot-4) is an international product of that learning. Before that and until 2006 however, the Merkava was at the mercy of Hizboallah fighters and their RPG-7s HEAT and Russian-made wire-guided missiles.
The same issue confronted them in 1973 when Russian 9M111 Fagot (NATO AT-4 Spigot) wire-guided anti-tank weapons destroyed a large number of its tanks.
Although we have no confirmation of LTTE acquiring similar weapons, countries like Syria have provided large such stocks to Hizbullah until 2006. Given LTTE’s former links in Beirut, it will not be surprising if these weapons are somehow smuggled into the island. Unlike the SAMs, anti-tank missiles will not be considered a threat to regional security by our neighbours or other international powers.
Until now, the Tigers main answer to armoured columns and Battle Tanks has been an obstacle course of trenches hidden by bush and soil-covered gunnysacks and the RPG-7 HEAT. They would force Tanks and armoured columns off the road and force them onto a trench and then fire RPGs.
Another international terrorist response to armour is the IED. IEDs are a phenomenon of globalization, in terms of transnational criminal networks engaged in technology and materials transfer and smuggling from one terrorist group to another.
IEDs use simple technologies like mobile communication systems available is most countries to detonate the weapons. This made traditional detonation methods like contact or application of pressure obsolete.
Remote command detonation enables even civilians and children to detonate the device without being detected or suspected. IEDs are tactical weapons manufactured locally by local bomb makers using basic materials, in addition to the main ingredient; high-grade explosives.Two of capable IEDs for armour piercing are the Self-Forged Fragmentation (SFF) mines and explosive formed penetrators (EFP). SFF mines are effective against lightly armoured fighting vehicles. EFPs are much worse.
The modern EFP is the successor to the 1940s German Panzerfaust 30 (tank fist), a hand held weapon that propelled a malten metal projectile that burns into tanks until the tank burns from the inside.
An EFP from Iraq (Wikipedia)
In the world of active and passive vehicle protection systems are some recent successful innovations.
In the passive armour protection systems, the Israeli Military Industries Iron Wall is famous as a ballistic structure that can defeat several types of medium sized IEDs using a combination of composite materials and metals.
The Iron Fist can knock down anything from a Kinetic Energy projectile to a guided missile without blasting the warhead of the incoming projectile. It simply detonates at the rear end of the projectile making the warhead drop safely to ground.