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Sheltering Shelters

  • Wednesday, 7th March 2007
  • Reading time: about 3 minutes

The Natick Soldier Center (NSC) has partnered with the Advanced Engineered Wood Composites (AEWC) Center at the University of Maine to develop a composite armour panel system that can be integrated easily into standard soft-walled shelter frames.

The Modular Ballistic Protection System (MBPS) is designed to protect against indirect fire such as lethal mortar fragmentation while withstanding the secondary blast pressure from a mortar explosion.

“”The Modular Ballistic Protection System is a key advancement in the defense against indirect fire. Armor systems should be designed with mobility, time, and manpower in mind; thereby protecting Soldiers without overburdening them. The MBPS does just that. It is lightweight, quickly deployable, and provides Soldiers with enhanced ballistic protection where it never existed before – their tents,”” said Ryan Devine, NSC engineer.

Devine added that the panels are placed inside the shelter skin, preventing the shelter from being easily identified as a high-value target.

The MBPS panels are a sandwich design. The outer layers are made of E-glass, a ballistic armor material. The E-glass surrounds a core of oriented-strand board.

“”The E-glass is what gives the panels their ballistic effectiveness. The wood core is what gives the panel additional flexural strength,”” said Devine.

“”Mortar attack modelling has indicated that the MBPS would protect against more than 99 percent of mortar fragments,”” added Devine. “”NSC has worked to greatly enhance the fragmentation model so that instead of just giving a percentage of fragments defeated, we will give an actual injury profile that predicts the level of injury throughout the detonation area both with and without MBPS protection.””

Protection provided by the MBPS is not equal to heavy-duty armour systems like concrete barriers. However, the MBPS has many benefits that heavy-duty armour systems do not, such as being lightweight, portable, and reusable, all while providing outstanding ballistic protection.

According to Devine, the MBPS requires no modification to a frame, no additional anchoring, and no special tools to install. The panels are attached using a strap and buckle system, and each 8-foot module can be installed by four Soldiers in 15 minutes.

NSC plans to make ongoing improvements to the MBPS. The panels have already been modified so they can be seamlessly integrated into Force Provider tent camps, the armour composite itself is being continuously tested and refined, and more user-friendly integration methods are a constant pursuit.

NSC is working on a quick deployment of a prototype system to a combat zone.

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