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Thread: Air Force testing new transparent armor - potential application?

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    Senior Member downunder's Avatar
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    Air Force testing new transparent armor - potential application?

    http://img348.imageshack.us/img348/6676/scotty0ix.jpg

    http://www.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123012131

    Air Force testing new transparent armor

    by Laura Lundin
    Air Force Research Laboratory Public Affairs

    10/17/2005 - WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio (AFPN) -- Engineers here are testing a new kind of transparent armor -- stronger and lighter than traditional materials -- that could stop armor-piercing weapons from penetrating vehicle windows.

    The Air Force Research Laboratory's materials and manufacturing directorate is testing aluminum oxynitride -- ALONtm -- as a replacement for the traditional multi-layered glass transparencies now used in existing ground and air armored vehicles.

    The test are being done in conjunction with the Army Research Laboratory at Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Md., and University of Dayton Research Institute, Ohio.

    ALONtm is a ceramic compound with a high compressive strength and durability. When polished, it is the premier transparent armor for use in armored vehicles, said. 1st Lt. Joseph La Monica, transparent armor sub-direction lead

    "The substance itself is light years ahead of glass," he said, adding that it offers "higher performance and lighter weight."

    Traditional transparent armor is thick layers of bonded glass. The new armor combines the transparent ALONtm piece as a strike plate, a middle section of glass and a polymer backing. Each layer is visibly thinner than the traditional layers.

    ALONtm is virtually scratch resistant, offers substantial impact resistance, and provides better durability and protection against armor piercing threats, at roughly half the weight and half the thickness of traditional glass transparent armor, said the lieutenant.

    In a June 2004demonstration, an ALONtm test pieces held up to both a .30 caliber Russian M-44 sniper rifle and a .50 caliber Browning Sniper Rifle with armor piercing bullets. While the bullets pierced the glass samples, the armor withstood the impact with no penetration.

    In extensive testing, ALONtm has performed well against multiple hits of .30 caliber armor piercing rounds -- typical of anti-aircraft fire, Lieutenant La Monica said. Ttests focusing on multiple hits from .50 caliber rounds and improvised explosive devices are in the works.

    The lieutenant is optimistic about the results because the physical properties and design of the material are intended to stop higher level threats.

    "The higher the threat, the more savings you're going to get," he said. "With glass, to get the protection against higher threats, you have to keep building layers upon layers. But with ALONtm, the material only needs to be increased a few millimeters."

    This ability to add the needed protection with only a small amount of material is very advantageous, said Ron Hoffman, an investigator at University of Dayton Research Institute.

    "When looking at higher level threats, you want the protection, not the weight," Mr. Hoffman said. "Achieving protection at lighter weights will allow the armor to be more easily integrated into vehicles."

    Mr. Hoffman also pointed out the benefit of durability with ALONtm.

    "Eventually, with a conventional glass surface, degradation takes place and results in a loss of transparency," Mr. Hoffman said. "Things such as sand have little or no impact on ALONtm, and it probably has a life expectancy many times that of glass."

    The scratch-resistant quality will greatly increase the transparency of the armor, giving military members more visual awareness on the battlefield.

    "It all comes down to survivability and being able to see what's out there and to make decisions while having the added protection," Mr. Hoffman said.

    The Army is looking to use the new armor as windows in ground vehicles, like the Humvee, Lieutenant La Monica said. The Air Force is exploring its use for "in-flight protective transparencies for low, slow-flying aircraft. These include the C-130 Hercules, C-17 Globemaster III, A-10 Thunderbolt II and helicopters.

    While some see the possibilities of this material as limitless, manufacturability, size and cost are issues the lab is dealing with before the armor can transition to the field, the lieutenant said.

    "Traditional transparent armor costs a little over $3 per square inch. The ALONtm Transparent Armor cost is $10 to $15 per square inch," Lieutenant La Monica said. "The difficulties arise with heating and polishing processes, which lead to higher costs. But we are looking at more cost effective alternatives."

    Lieutenant La Monica said experimenting with the polishing process has proven beneficial.

    "We found that by polishing it a certain way, we increased the strength of the material by two-fold," he said.

    Currently, size is also limited because equipment needed to heat larger pieces is expensive. To help lower costs, the lieutenant said researchers are looking at design variations that use smaller pieces of the armor tiled together to form larger windows.

    Lowering cost by using a commercial grade material is also an option, and the results have been promising.

    "So far, the difference between the lower-grade material and higher purity in ballistic tests is minimal," he said.

    Lieutenant La Monica said once the material can be manufactured in large quantities to meet the military's needs, and the cost brought down, the durability and strength of ALONtm will prove beneficial to the warfighter.

    "It might cost more in the beginning, but it is going to cost less in the long run because you are going to have to replace it less," he said.

    maybe a potential application here for the visor masks. Scratch resistant is nice.

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    Din Älskling esskreemr's Avatar
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    Hmmm... transparent aluminum. It could be used to build a REALLY large tank to hold a whale on a Klingon warship.
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    Posting Hound Purple Fencer's Avatar
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    Hmmmm.....if it can stand being drilled without compromising the structural integrity (a prob with the lexans) it would make ME feel a lot more comfortable with the clear masks....although the TV rationale still doesn;t convince me,
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    Senior Member sabreur's Avatar
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    Y'all are thinking small.

    This could be the breakthrough that makes fencing a truly successful sport, like beach volley ball--think Barbarella.

    If we all wore transparent body armor, with skimpy underwear beneath, think about how much more telegenic the sport would be!

    Or actually, at least in my case, not.
    Why sabre? Because you don't take heads with the point.

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    Posting Hound Zilverzmurfen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sabreur
    Or actually, at least in my case, not.
    Well, either that or particularly in your case!
    Fencing is my only PvP.

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    Senior Member rcmatthews's Avatar
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    Im fairly certain that something like that would not be available to the general public for a long time.
    Ich steige ab, Hab keine Zeit, Muss jetzt zu den anderen Pferden, Wollen auch geritten werden

    C'est pas la chute, c'est l'atterrissage.

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    Senior Member JackOfHearts's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sabreur
    If we all wore transparent body armor, with skimpy underwear beneath, think about how much more telegenic the sport would be!
    .
    Hrm... That is a valid point. I mean think about it: Why do people watch tennis anyways? Anna Kournikova (or Maria Sharapova now, I guess. Either way, Russian teenagers in mini skirts).
    If your hearts not in it, why bother? -Yours truly
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    Quote Originally Posted by sabreur
    Y'all are thinking small.

    This could be the breakthrough that makes fencing a truly successful sport, like beach volley ball--think Barbarella.

    If we all wore transparent body armor, with skimpy underwear beneath, think about how much more telegenic the sport would be!

    Or actually, at least in my case, not.
    Dude -- the stuff is like $10-15 per square inch. And its rigid.. Figure ten thou for a set of armor that makes you look like Henry VIII doing his imitation of the Emperor's new clothes... (transparent full plate armor?) Either that or a thous or so for something that makes you look like Yogi Berri doing a strip tease.. (transparent baseball catcher's armor...)

    Seriously, there's some other stuff in the lab that looks very promising for facemasks, if that's the issue. There's one I've been watching that solves the impact shattering of lexan, and looks to have durability as much as Lexan and cost very similar. It should be in production in about 18 months for a niche application.

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    Needs to get Outside Inquartata's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Purple Fencer
    Hmmmm.....if it can stand being drilled without compromising the structural integrity
    Hey, if not, well, just divert power from life support temporarily to boost the interspacial density, Captain.

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    Senior Member swordsen's Avatar
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    But first don't forget to re-calibrate the main sensor array.......
    If you give a man a fire, he is warm for the night.
    If you set a man on fire, he is warm for the rest of his life.

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    Needs to get Outside Inquartata's Avatar
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    But the antimatter conduits won't take the strain, we'll have multiple hull breaches before you can say Montgomery Scott...

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    Posting Hound Purple Fencer's Avatar
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    And overestimate your repair estimates by a factor of four to maintain your rep as a miracle worker!
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    Aye, change the polarity in the warp coil modulator! 'Tis the only way to prevent it from blowing out!

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    Posting Hound Purple Fencer's Avatar
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    I canna change tha laws of physics!!!!
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    Quote Originally Posted by rcmatthews
    Im fairly certain that something like that would not be available to the general public for a long time.
    Given the article discussed how the highest grade compares to the civilian (about the same), I'd doubt it.

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    Senior Member rcmatthews's Avatar
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    All I see is a reference to using commercial grade materials. Not the same thing. It seems to me that releasing the technology behind this would be kind of like telling people how to make stealth aircraft.
    Ich steige ab, Hab keine Zeit, Muss jetzt zu den anderen Pferden, Wollen auch geritten werden

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    Quote Originally Posted by JackOfHearts
    Hrm... That is a valid point. I mean think about it: Why do people watch tennis anyways? Anna Kournikova (or Maria Sharapova now, I guess. Either way, Russian teenagers in mini skirts).
    i agree ummm russian's n mini skirts lol

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    i would prefer to have a traditional mask that 1 that has clear plastic in it , think about it , u can see there eyes move, this gives away when they aare going to attack and where , and the same with them to you .

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    Senior Member edew's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kmak_577
    i agree ummm russian's n mini skirts lol
    Hmmm... transparent armored miniskirts on russian fencers.... might be quite telegenic.
    =)=///

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