Add-on armour package developed for military vehicles
Combining expertise in material manufacturing with expertise in the detonics and ballistics field, the CSIR developed a cost-effective, novel protection solution against the threat of improvised explosive devices (IEDs). The solution had to be deployed in an add-on manner on armoured vehicles, without unduly compromising the vehicle’s mobility, especially in South African National Defence Force operations during peacekeeping missions.
The final solution utilises specific manufacturing techniques for the consolidation of a combination of light-weight, off-the-shelf materials that are used in specific layouts against the threat. The optimisation of the layout was only made possible by expert post-test analysis of the fracture modes in the materials and the analysis of high-speed photographic data obtained from impact experiments. The manufacturing techniques and layouts were optimised in such a way that materials not usually as effective against this threat on their own, could be combined cost-effectively in a passive lay-up. The current mass of the protective solution compares well with those in the field, which uses more sophisticated and costly materials.
Protection against IEDs in general is a priority undertaking for most defence forces engaged in peacekeeping missions, or deployment especially when patrolling strife-torn regions. Armoured personnel carriers (APCs) in particular, are vulnerable against a specific form of IED, namely improvised explosively formed projectiles due to the formidable penetration capability of such devices into armoured steel. These APCs cannot be ‘up-armoured’ above certain weight limits. The thickness of additional conventional steel armour on the vehicles has a negative impact on manoeuvrability and mobility. In this technology field, many sophisticated lighter weight solutions have been developed to mitigate threats however, they are costly and difficult to implement. A constant demand for lighter and more cost-effective solutions against continually evolving IED threats, remains a priority in this technology field.