More and more international companies are merging regarding the manufacture of military vehicles. The trend will be to provide effective fighting units using new and existing technologies and sourcing components from all over the world. Many traditional companies will move towards joint ventures to survive, and they will need to accept that key skill-bases will be spread over a large geographical area, where new materials and innovative concepts will feed into the final products.
It may be hard to imagine that lightweight structures are required for military tanks and armoured vehicles, but they are necessary, because adding mass is easier than taking it away. Flexibility is a key driver to success, and understanding one's adversaries and their capability will determine the equipment to be deployed and the strategic tactics used. These objectives can only be achieved if composites and adhesives are used to greater effect, as follows:
- Composites such as sandwich structures for armour and chassis components will be used more extensively along with adhesives.
- Modular construction will endeavour to provide some answers, but not without innovative design and advanced materials.
- Weight will need to be driven out of the vehicles and only to be added where needed.
- Ceramics and advanced reinforced thermoplastics will provide the flexibility to allow novel ergonomic designs, e.g. for electromagnetic rail launchers or electro-thermal chemical energy guns.
- Drive will be via wheels and interchangeable tracks allowing increase in speed and improved efficiency.
New systems such as Adhfast? will allow adhesives to be applied in the field for structural repair. Adhfast? is easily used as it provides self-jigging, so vehicles can be bonded and be operational within minutes. It also offers the ability to change armour depending on your adversary's capabilities. Very little training is required and the system can be modified to specific requirements.
Another novel idea is the use of bi-stable composites. This is a method of using composites that can be stored on a roll and then extended out to produce a stiff tube. This very lightweight compact tube can be used for aerials, extending arms for mine clearing, and over the horizon radar. The fibres can be placed down in a variety of ways to improve stiffness and locked in a number of different matrix systems. Some new developments of this material show that it can be used for ballistic protection with the ability to be rapidly deployed.
Just using these two systems together offers vast solutions for some of today's problems. The limitation is down to the individual when using adhesives and composite materials. If you have an idea where to apply them, why don't you contact TWI?
For information about TWI's capabilities please contact us.