Ceramic Armour Plate under Development at Newport; JOINT PROJECT BY MOD AND KENNAMETAL FOR TESTING

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), October 18, 2013 | Go to article overview

Ceramic Armour Plate under Development at Newport; JOINT PROJECT BY MOD AND KENNAMETAL FOR TESTING


Byline: CHRIS KELSEY chris.kelsey@walesonline.co.uk

ARMOUR that could protect the lives of British soldiers in the future is under development at a new facility near Newport.

In a joint investment by the MoD's Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) and Kennametal Manufacturing, the latest in ceramic armour will be designed and produced ready for testing.

Yesterday a milestone was reached at the PS2m facility when the advanced spark plasma sinter furnace, where the discs of armour will be produced, was turned on and produced the first sample of a new armour - 95-5. Professor Peter Brown of DSTL explained that the use of ceramics in body armour and armoured vehicles has been around for decades. Previously the British armed forces have bought ceramic armour from commercial sources. But in recent years DSTL has been undertaking research to improve the properties of the armour through new combinations or new products.

Frontline experience in Iraq and Afghanistan has informed the need to develop new armour, as soldiers increasingly faced the threat of ever more powerful roadside bombs or IEDs.

"The challenge we face is getting tougher," Prof Brown said. "There's always a need to protect our forces. I can't recall a time when the threat that we faced has reduced."

He added: "Part of the challenge is making sure we have reliability of supply. The move has been more how do we work with UK industry to make sure they can produce the armour we need."

"At the moment we're just starting to produce different samples for ballistic testing," said plant manger Mike Williams.

"DSTL will ask us to produce the ceramic disks, we'll produce them, they'll test them and ask us to make changes."

Kennametal, which owns the plant, has a seven-year contract with DSTL to develop ceramic armour. Currently there are no other facilities in the UK to develop ceramic armour.

"There are places that will sell commercial armour. This gives us the opportunity to develop better, lightweight high performance armour," said Prof Brown. …

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