The increasing lethality of enemy ballistic and blast threats—such as bullets, fragments, explosively formed projectiles, shaped charges and improved explosive devices (IEDs) — has resulted in substantial increases in the weight of protective armor and, consequently, the weight of tactical and combat vehicles. The DARPA Soldier Protection Systems (SPS) Program is developing and demonstrating lightweight armor material systems to defeat current and potential ballistic and blast threats with performance substantially better than today’s protective armor systems.
DARPA is focused on materials and material systems that can control the energy absorption and propagation of ballistics or blasts. Guided by mechanics-based modeling, new materials with superior mechanical properties are being developed and formulated into novel ballistic armor systems. In addition, hierarchical structures that can achieve survivability against high-intensity underbody blasts are being developed to provide greatly enhanced protection to the occupants of both tactical and combat vehicles. These approaches aim to enable new lightweight armor that can defeat a broad spectrum of combined threats.
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