A new blast defence mechanism could double vehicle protection against mine explosions without additional armour, according to its inventor.
The active belly plate system developed by Advanced Blast & Ballistic Systems (ABBS) exerts a force against the floor of the vehicle to reduce floor deformation and help stop the vehicle from being thrown into the air.
The technology, which has been taken to proof-of-concept stage, works by exploiting the short delay between a mine going off and the explosion hitting the underside of the vehicle, using this time to counteract the force of the mine.
‘Originally I was dealing with the global acceleration, which is the vehicle jumping in the air, and that on its own can kill you,’ Roger Sloman, managing director of ABBS and inventor of the system, told The Engineer.
‘And then I thought that if you put the force down a column in the vehicle onto the belly plate, you can keep the floor down as well, which is even more important. So it’s a very simple concept of actively opposing the force of the mine.’
Because it deals with global acceleration, the technology should protect lighter cars as well as armoured vehicles. ‘You don’t carry around huge amounts of mass to counteract the blast,’ said Sloman. ‘You can double the mine blast capability of a system, at least.’
The system detects the shockwaves of a blast, which travel at the speed of sound and arrive around 0.5 milliseconds before the mass of the explosion, providing enough time for the belly plate to react.
ABBS received £116,000 from the Ministry of Defence’s Centre for Defence Enterprise to develop the technology and is now seeking funding to build a commercial prototype of the device.
Sloman said it could be further developed to provide specific forces to match each explosion. ‘Either you can set everything off or you can analyse the strength of the shockwave and get an estimate of the size of the mine and where it is and therefore you can tune the response.’