The RynoHide lightweight body armor produced by Amendment II is the first to employ Carbon Nano-Tubes . It was a result of a partnership deal signed in 2011 by Amendment II and the Nano Institute of the University of Utah to develop carbon nanotubes for body armor applications. Photo: Amendment II
New materials promise improvements in the weight of body armor, but are unproven—and an alternative approach to the problem involves looking at whether some current systems are stronger and heavier than necessary. i-hlsreports.
Technological progress tends to be incremental, but the U.S. Office of Naval Research (ONR) hopes to make significant advances with its “Lighten the Load” initiative to reduce the burden on U.S. Marines. Body armor is a critical target, as it is the single largest element of the load. “We are taking multiple approaches to reduce the weight of PPE (personal protective equipment),” says James Mackiewicz, program manager in ONR’s department of expeditionary warfare and combating terrorism.
One approach is to find improved materials for all applications. For example, the ONR is looking into “better ballistic fabrics, fabric system configurations, improved armor synergy and improved ceramics for small-arms defeat,” Mackiewicz says.
According to Aviation Week another approach is determining whether the armor is suitable to the mission, or whether lighter-weight armor could do as well. “We are reevaluating the threats to Marines to ensure we provide the appropriate armor for the threat scenario,” says Mackiewicz. Body armor usually consists of “soft-armor” garments with “hard-armor” insert plates. The soft armor, which defeats low-velocity rounds and shrapnel, is typically woven DuPont Kevlar aramid fiber, ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene or other synthetics. The inserts have a front face made of ceramic, usually boron or silicon carbide—among the hardest materials known—with a tough synthetic backing. Incoming rounds, even armor-piercing bullets, are deformed or shattered by the hard armor, and remnants are stopped by the backing material or soft armor.
Armor research tends to follow developments in materials science, and much of the current effort focuses on carbon nanotubes (CNT), a single sheet of carbon atoms rolled into a tube. In theory, CNTs could be made hundreds of times stronger than steel, but this would rely on manufacturing flawless tubes in bulk, which is not yet possible. However, smaller tubes can be produced in bulk, and these are used to reinforce soft and hard armor.
Armor is not provided only to human warfighters. In 2010 the Navy spent $86,000 on four tactical vests to outfit Navy Seal dogs. The system was designed by Winnipeg, Canada-based contractor K9 Storm. The canine armor suits is based on K9’s Intruder. The tactical body armor is wired with a collapsible video arm, two-way audio, and other attachable gadgets.
China is developing a number of Anti-Satellite technologies, including missiles and laser-based weapons.
Carter said the US has established an integrated effort to in understanding the anti-satellite threat, and preparing a work plan on how the US can operate without spacecraft,” Carter told reporters at the National Press Club. i-hlsreports.
Carter said the initiative was looking at how to make U.S. military and intelligence satellite systems more resilient if they were threatened, or how to operate without them if need be. He said the fiscal 2014 budget included funding for the initiative, as well as “investments in our own capability to deny the use of space against our forces in a conflict.” He did not provide additional details.
The U.S. government is relying on satellites for a number of defense-critical services including strategic and tactical reconnaissance and intelligence gathering, early warning on missile launches, communications and weather monitoring.
The Pentagon on Monday released an 83-page report on Chinese military developments, saying China uses computer espionage to acquire technology to fuel its military modernization, but China dismissed the report as groundless. The annual report also highlighted China’s increasing space capabilities, citing Beijing’s “multi-dimensional program to improve its capabilities to limit or prevent the use of space-based assets by adversaries during times of crisis or conflict.”
It said China was pursuing a variety of air, sea, undersea, space and counter-space capabilities, and military strategists there viewed the ability to utilize space and deny adversaries access to space as key priorities. The report cited a Chinese military analysis which highlighted the importance of “destroying or capturing satellites and other sensors” during a military conflict.
The Hamaseh drone unveiled last week is one of Iran’s new generation of drones, based on designs that follow proven western UAVs. Hamaseh clearly resembles the Israeli Heron. Photo: FARS
Last week Iran unveiled its latest drone dubbed “Hamaseh”. This unmanned aerial vehicle follows a classic twin-boom tail design, pioneered by IAI’s Scout and Tadiran Mastiff in the 1980s. On the My 9, 2013 unveiling ceremony the drone was shown carrying two 107mm rockets and what seems to be an electronic payload – probably a radar. The Iranians say it can ‘avoid detection by the enemy thanks to its stealth features’, but based on visual impression of the aircraft shown in flight, the overall shape and non-stealth features such as the non retractable landing gear, wing strakes (beefing up the hard-points) would negate signature reduction to a level considered ‘stealthy’ by western standards. According to the Iranians, Hamaseh is designed for reconnaissance and combat missions.
Regardless of the maturity of the current Hamaseh, the design represents a new level of maturity for Iran’s drone program, which currently includes about 40 different types of drones. Of these, about 30 are in different phases of production.
In recent months the Iranians have released a number of drones.
Another drone unveiled in 2012 was Shahed 129 followed another Israeli design – the Hermes 450. In April 2013 Tehran unveiled four new drone programs – Azem-2, Mohajer B, Hazem 3 and Sarir H110, dubbed as a ‘long-endurance drone’. Sharir 110 was first shown on a march in Tehran, on April 10, 2013. As other recently unveiled Iranian designs, this drone follows the design of the Israeli Hunter (Developed by IAI), which has seen operational use with the US Army in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past decade. Sharir 110 is also configured with a twin-boom tail, and is powered by two propellers used in tractor-pusher configuration. This drone was also displayed carrying external weapons on wing pylons (it was displayed with two SA-7 class air/air missiles). Iran also claims this drone is stealthy, but its design does not indicate any such attributes.
long endurance missions. It was displayed on the April 2012 Army Day military parade in Tehran. The drone follows the lines of the Israeli Hunter UAV.
H-110 Sarir is a twin-engine UAV designed for long endurance missions. It was displayed on the April 2012 Army Day military parade in Tehran. The drone follows the lines of the Israeli Hunter UAV.
Tehran is developing the operational techniques, tactics and procedures (TTP) for these unmanned systems in parallel to the continuous development of systems. Unmanned systems are integrated in all exercises, on both sides. Iran regularly trains its forces and air defenses in counter-surveillance measures, and specific counter-UAV techniques. These have culminated in the ‘abduction’ of an RQ-170 Sentinel, the top-secret CIA drone operated from Afghanistan in 2011. The Sentinel was said to be on surveillance missions over east-central Iran when Tehran’s electronic warfare units claimed to have managed to deceive its navigation and command links, landing the drone undamaged in Iran. It is assumed that by reverse engineering some of the RQ-170 design features the Iranians could implement signature reduction capabilities, particularly in electromagnetic shielding, use of materials and the topology of elements, achieving a level of low observability in their newer drones. Nevertheless, the adaptation of overall stealth design, that requires complex manufacturing techniques, exotic materials and use of advanced aerodynamic control are probably beyond the scope of Iran’s current achievements, hence the lack of visible ‘stealth shaped’ drones.
Since 2006 Iran also launched several surveillance missions over Israel, through its Hezbollah Lebanese proxy organization. In 2006 and 2011 Hezbollah used Ababil drones on strike missions directed at Israel. In all occasions the drones were intercepted by Israel Air Force jet fighters.
Aware of the Ababil’s limited stealth capability, Iran is trying to reduce the detectability and signatures of its newer drones. On the more recent missions Iranian drones achieved more impressive results; on one occasion, in October 2012 the new Shahed 129 managed to fly from Lebanon and conduct a reconnaissance mission over Southern Israel, for about 30 minutes before being intercepted. Iranian sources said it was not the first time they flew such missions over Israel, but did not present any proof for these claims. The Israelis have learned their lessons, on another mission launched in April 2013 an Iranian drone was intercepted long before approaching the Israeli coastline.