Alternative armour

A textile-based protection system designed to replace bar and slat armour could provide the UK military with a new level of defence against rocket-propelled grenade attacks.

Resembling a mattress, the lightweight Tarian system is currently being used on a number of Heavy Equipment Transporters in Afghanistan. AmSafe Bridport, the Dorset-based company that designed the system, claimed it is seven times lighter than traditional steel armour and 50 per cent lighter than aluminium.

Neal McKeever, AmSafe’s director and general manager of defence, said: ‘The system works in a similar manner to bar armour and has the same performance characteristics. The main benefit is in the weight savings, allowing combat vehicles to make improvements to their protection elsewhere.’

The concept of the lightweight armour began in 2005 and was originally intended for aerospace applications. However, a two-year partnership with the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has advanced the technology, offering additional benefits such as its use to provide camouflage and on-site replacement.

McKeever said: ‘The possibility to have fielded spares and quick turnaround time replacement is far greater than storing heavy pieces of metal. Soldiers have shown that they can remove and replace these panels single-handedly.’

He added: ‘One of the issues being looked at right now is to use its flat surface to apply an appropriate camouflage covering and to see what advantages that offers up in terms of confusing or dazzling the enemy — this wasn’t possible with traditional bar armour.’

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has received positive feedback on the use of Tarian and is now planning to rollout the product onto a wider range of fighting armoured vehicles.

Ellie Zolfagharifard