ABOUT US MEDIA DATA SUBSCRIPTION ARCHIVE CONTACT US INTERNATIONAL EVENTS
issue No 12,
EPTEMBER 2018
 
  Published by Dar Assayad Arab Defence Journal
Highlights   المعلوماتية العسكرية تكنولوجيا الدفاع حول العالم العالم العربي تحديث السلاح الافتتاحية رسالة الناشر
SOLDIER PROTECTION
Soldier personal protection equipment (PPE) remains one of the most important and critical requirements to armed forces seeking to minimise casualties and fatalities inflicted across the battlefield.
According to US Department of Defense (DoD) doctrine, PPE "primarily consists of hard armour plates, soft armour plate carrier vests and combat helmets", although it can also include ballistic eye protection; ear and facial protection; as well as solutions capable of protecting limbs and the neck.
According to the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, entitled "Personal Protective Equipment" and published on 5th May 2017, PPE systems add "significant bulk and weight to the total load on soldiers and marines, which could impede mobility and hinder combat effectiveness", particularly when considering its utility alongside weapon systems and ammunition loads; communications and electronic devices; food, water and other miscellaneous items.
"The Army is also developing a goal and plan to reduce the weight of hard armour plates by 20 percent by identifying and eliminating excess ballistic protection. In addition, the army and marine corps are pursuing other efforts to reduce the weight of PPE, such as by giving commanders the option to employ varying levels of PPE at their discretion and studying the effects of integrating PPE with overall combat loads," the report added.
Despite ongoing efforts to marginally reduce the weight of plate carrier vests and ceramic plate inserts, the market is now witnessing multiple research and development efforts to proliferate new PPE technology types which could significantly reduce overall weight of PPE by up to 50 per cent, some industry sources have claimed.
Army and Marine Corps service officials described how both force components continued to consider future "updates and redesigned aspects of their respective soft armour vests" aimed at achieving weight savings of up to 40 to 50 percent.
Meanwhile, the army is also considering a series of updates to save weight while increasing ballistic protection of personnel with as yet undisclosed new designs in hard armour plate inserts expected to be revealed in Fiscal Year 2019.
Examples of such next-generation solutions include a joint venture currently being conducted by BAE Systems- Canada and Helios Global Technologies. In July 2017, the pair agreed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) aimed at the design and development of liquid body armour technology, which according to programme officials could provide weight savings up to 50 per cent over legacy ceramic solutions.


According to an official statement released by BAE Systems, the MoU is aimed at the "further development of liquid armour technology", which is also referred to by Helios Global Technologies as Liquid Gel.
The UK Ministry of Defence"s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) continues with a four year study aimed at optimising "synthetic biology" technology for body armour solutions. However, defence sources suggested how this particular avenue resembles another long term option for armed forces, similar to the future development roadmap for liquid armour solutions.
The US Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office (CTTSO) is assisting industry in the development of the Special Operations Tactical Stand Alone Plate which is being undertaken to produce a lightweight and tactical ballistic plate insert providing operators with "elevated threat protection without degrading mobility or further encumbering the operator", according to the CTTSO"s 2017 Review Book, published in December 2017.
"The nanocomposite layers increase the hardness and toughness of the ceramic substrate, thus enhancing its overall ballistic performance," the book continues. "The coated ceramic strike face and a ballistic composite backing layer will comprise a system optimised for weight, thickness, and
ballistic performance."
Elsewhere, similar efforts are being undertaken by Karagozian & Case which is focused on the development of ceramic matrix composite (CMC) materials aimed at enhancing crack resistance improvements when compared to more traditional ceramic plate inserts.
Armed forces will continue to strive to increase protection levels with this type of technology as well as attempting to achieve reduced weights as they continue to seek to reduce the burden to increased soldier mobility across the battlefield.
 
 
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