Defense Advanced Research Projects AgencyTagged Content List

Ground Systems

Manned and unmanned terrestrial systems, including vehicles, robotics and supporting technologies

Showing 3 results for Ground + Materials RSS

In addition to supporting advanced materials development since its early years, DARPA has at times been called upon to identify technologies for specific near-term applications. One of these tasks occurred for Operation Desert Storm (1991-1992) when ground forces experienced a critical need for more effective armor. The DARPA solution in this case, particularly for roof protection for the U.S. Marine Corps’ Light Armored Vehicles (LAVs) against artillery, was to ask the Lanxide Corporation to modify its cermet (ceramic/metallic) process and to work with a partner Foster Miller to produce appliqué armor.

From 1984 to 1986, DARPA supported the materials research and engineering that led to these cermet materials. With DARPA funding, 75 LAVs were up-armored with the tough composite materials. In the early 1990s, M-9 Armored Combat Earthermoves (ACE) also employed this lightweight armor. Variations of these cermet materials have been used for cockpit armor by the U.S. Air Force in C-130, C-141, and C-14 aircraft in Bosnia.

The Lanxide material has also been employed as high-power-density heat sinks for the F/A-18 and F-16 radars, turbine tip shrouds, commercial satellite heat sinks, very stiff parts for semiconductor lithography machines, and as vehicle brake components. All of the military and civil uses of Lanxide evolved directly from DARPA’s program. The military uses were under DARPA support, and then transitioned to U.S. Army and Air Force programs.

The proliferation of low cost, highly sophisticated commercial technology and the global access to knowledge about how to construct and apply these systems has narrowed the divide and placed sophisticated systems and capabilities in the hands of hobbyists across the world. The DARPA Improv program investigated the threat posed by commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) devices.
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.