June 16, 2010
A new lightweight ceramic armour solution unveiled at this week’s 2010 Eurosatory defence exhibition in Paris is designed to provide enhanced protection for helicopters, aircraft and ground vehicles.
This protection is based on a ceramic composite manufacturing method developed with the EADS Innovation Works in Germany, which utilises an automated thermal spraying process to build up the armour on a backing plate.
The spraying procedure provides complete and seamless coating of all surfaces, including curved and spherical-shaped components. In addition to a weight reduction of 30-40 per cent compared to rolled homogenous armour steel, the ceramic armour’s seamless application eliminates the joints that occur with the use of ceramic tiles – further increasing protection effectiveness by eliminating areas of vulnerability.
The ceramic armour development panel exhibited at Eurosatory – which is sized for use in the CH-53 helicopter’s engine bay – illustrates its successful protection against a 7.62 mm. armour piercing round.
The new ceramic armour solution is well suited to provide protection against armour piercing ammunition on aircraft/helicopter systems and components such as engines, hydraulics and electronics, along with gearing and swashplates. On military ground-based vehicles, the lightweight armour can be used at weapons stations and for sensors, as well as add-on protection for civilian vehicles.
Exhibited at Eurosatory is an example of the lightweight ceramic armour on helicopters: a curved protective panel for the engine bay on the CH-53 heavy-lift rotary-wing aircraft.
For this panel – which would be located between the engine and the external cowl – the ceramic armour protection was applied to a relatively thin ballistic steel backing, and covered by an aramid/carbon fibre top-level fabric. The panel successfully demonstrated its capabilities by protecting against a 7.62 mm. armour-piercing round, with the ceramic armour eroding the round’s core, and the steel backing effectively preventing penetration. The top-level fabric layer kept the cracked ceramic protection in place, avoiding the dispersion of splinters.