BAE Systems is to develop new vehicle armour for the US Marines. The UK defence group has won a three-year contract from the US Office of Naval Research to look into how electromagnetic armour (EMA) can be combined with other armour technologies to protect the Marine Corps’ ground vehicles better.
Advanced armour protection for tanks and other combat vehicles is a key area of US military research, especially if new technologies can reduce the need to add weight. EMA has emerged as a promising technology for defending vehicles from attack by shapedcharge warheads such as rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs).
Shaped-charge weapons create a high-energy jet of copper or other metal at the point of detonation, the force of which is too great for all but the thickest armour plating to resist. EMA defends against shaped-charge projectiles by creating a powerful magnetic force that disrupts the particles within the deadly jet, dispersing its energy and reducing its ability to penetrate vehicles.
The technology is viewed as having potential for smaller armoured vehicles as it does not add significantly to their weight. It does, however, require the ability to generate considerable energy, and may be most suitable for new types of hybrid-electric fighting vehicles.
The BAE Systems team will research and test the use of EMA in conjunction with other technologies in a bid to create an armour ‘recipe’ suitable for use on Marine vehicles. The company said the new research, to be carried out in conjunction with the US Army Research Lab, will build on its existing Smart Survivable Structure programme. This is looking at technologies such as lightweight nanomaterial armours and electronic jamming devices.
‘We are looking to develop a combined technology that will directly benefit Marines in hostile environments,’ said Mark Middione, BAE’s survivability programme manager.