Advanced armor forecasted to play key role in solving challenges for military, law enforcement and security vehicles.
Emerging global trends are impacting the operating environment of light tactical interdiction vehicles for military, law enforcement and homeland security operations, particularly helicopters and patrol boats. As they are increasingly involved in higher-risk scenarios, these vehicles require enhanced armor protection that won’t compromise their speed, agility, range and payload capacity. DSM Dyneema, the manufacturer of ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMwPE) fiber, branded as Dyneema®, predicts next-generation materials technologies to be an answer to this challenge. This view is supported by industry experts who predict the use of UHMwPE materials in armor applications will show double-digit growth in the next five years.
The need for lightweight armor protection
Three trends drive the need for lightweight armor protection:
- Operating environments are shifting to those that pose additional threats. Missions such as medical evacuations require faster helicopters to reach critical areas of the battlefield rapidly and maneuver to evade enemy fire. Other missions are in need of agile, quiet helicopters.
Piracy, terrorism and territorial disputers require the need for fast, armored boats that can enter dangerous areas and defend attacks.
- Vehicles are weighed down by sophisticated electronics systems. As these increase, weight reduction is needed in other areas, with armor as an obvious candidate.
- A vehicle’s weight affects fuel efficiency, which in turn impacts operating costs, range and sustainability. As these vehicles are used in more distant locations, the cost and effort to transport fuel increases and fuel supply lines become a potential point of failure. Investments are being made by the U.S. Department of Defense and other organizations to develop more fuel-efficient vehicle designs, for both environmental and operational reasons.
The new Dyneema Force Multiplier Technology combines breakthroughs in polymer science, next-generation UHMwPE fiber technology and unique uni-directional engineering, to address these market trends by reducing the weight of hard ballistics armor by up to 25 percent. It is built on the company’s newest product development program, the Radical Innovation platform.