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Innovative armour for high mobility and high protection

A specialist in the development, design, and manufacture of composite-based products for structural applications and ballistic protection, FY-Composites recently launched its new Lightweight Armored Structure Solution (LASS) technology.

In most common vehicle applications, ballistic protection is provided by specially designed steel structures. To be effective, however, these have to be very thick, something that also makes them very heavy. Steel also needs an additional protective layer, or spall liner, to stop the secondary fragments released by the impact of a projectile – increasing the total weight even more.

This added weight makes vehicles less practical to operate and requires higher-rated engines to drive them. The weight of hatches and doors, for example, typically means that special opening systems are needed.

The concept

FY-Composites’ LASS technology sidesteps these problems by using modern composite technology. Structural stiffness and strength in a LASS design are provided by a composite sandwich structure that is both light and strong enough to deal with high dimensioning and operational loads. Ballistic protection is integrated using protective layers, which break and stop projectiles. This ballistic protection also acts as part of the load-bearing structure.

Material usage is highly optimised in a LASS design and weight is kept to a minimum, which results in light and secure structures.

The benefits

The patent-pending LASS system can be closely tailored to suit customer requirements, in terms of both structure and ballistic protection.

Level 3 (NATO Stanag 4569 Annex A) protection, for example, can be achieved with an all-up weight of 75 kg/m2. This is well under half of the 200 kg/m2 needed by a steel structure. Level 2 protection comes in at half of the 100 kg/m2 of steel.

This is a particular benefit with doors and hatches, which can be much easier to open and close because of their lower weight, and can also be designed in a wider variety of shapes and other configurations. The same design flexibility applies to other parts. Lighter-weight, simpler hinges, latches, and other add-ons are easier to attach to a vehicle and can be prefabricated into the structure. This allows normal bolted or screwed fittings to be used, reducing the need for special materials and additional equipment.

High stiffness makes LASS products also suitable for pressurised vehicles for NBC/CBRN protection.

The applications

LASS technology is ideal for features such as crew doors and hatches, engine and other equipment hatches, driver cabins, side panels, ramps, compartments and containers for freight or other payload, and turrets for gunners and observers.

Finnish and international military customers have already specified LASS technology for use in crew doors and overall cabin protection for militarised trucks, and more projects are in the pipeline.

LASS technology provides high levels of ballistic protection at much lower weight than steel.
> Mika Mustakangas & Asko Kylkilahti
(Published in HighTech Finland 2008)