Current developments of armor for vehicles and personnel protection are aimed at lightweight, mass-efficient armor solutions. Future designs are expected to reduce the basic armor weight by 67%, compared to steel armor, and offering additional applications – for example, signature reduction, improved chemical agent resistance, damage detection and fire, smoke and toxicity protection built into the armor package. Integral armor structures built from advanced composites will form the basic structure for vehicle’s hulls of the US Army future combat system’s (FCS) program. The FCS armor will be designed to defeat side, top and rear ballistic threats. All FCS systems, manned and unmanned, will have an inherent, lightweight, small arms protection, capable to withstand a first hit from a 0.5″ cal fire.
Each of the FCS manned systems will also be protected against penetration, blast, shock, over-pressure, fire and thermobaric effects. These systems must provide full structural or add-on protection against 14.5mm rounds. The FCS protection suite must also maintain a 60 degrees frontal arc where it should defeat incoming 30mm threats, including APFSDS and 45mm automatic cannon shots, fired from different ranges. To meet the stringent weight margins, developers are considering using large structural sections built from large ceramic parts including structural and hull sections and components made of composites material. Such parts cannot be produced using existing ceramics manufacturing technologies. New processes are currently under development, to produce large parts with complex geometries, rendering strength and durability for multi-hit contingencies.
Additional parts of this article: