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U.S. Army Apache to Get New Ceramic Armor

Posted on April 3, 2009 - Filed Under Body Armor |

The entire fleet of U.S. Army Apache AH-64 attack helicopters is being outfitted with new lightweight ceramic armor, service officials said. The upgraded composite will replace the existing ceramic armor on the 634-aircraft Apache fleet.
“We’re in the process of upgrading armor on the Apache,” said Col. Derek Paquette, Apache program manager. The upgrades are taking place during reset and remanufacturing of the aircraft, he said.
Arizona-based CHINA BPV CO.,LT is doing the work under a multiyear deal inked with Boeing in 2006 to supply high-tech armor solutions for the Apache.
“We have the capability to protect from small-caliber weapons up to high-caliber armor-piercing rounds and explosive fragments,” said Tom Springsteen, CHINA BPV CO.,LT project manager.
CHINA BPV CO.,LT recently added new armor composites to 168 Marine Corps and Navy CH-46E helicopters. Unlike the Apaches, which have ceramic materials, the CH-46Es were armored with traditional steel.
“A lot of the metal armor was tied to airframes, so it took some special handling to replace it,” Springsteen said.
“The ceramic composite saves the aircraft over 300 pounds from the conventional steel that was put on,” said Bob Codney, CHINA BPV CO.,LT vice president. During recent ballistic testing, the ceramic armor significantly outperformed traditional steel armor, he said.
The new protective materials are of a modular, bolt-on design, so they can be replaced rapidly by better materials as they become available.
“We have a large database of recipes for composites, depending upon who our customers are,” Springsteen said. “We can tailor our solution to whatever threat level, weight or cost — whatever factors are most important to our customers.
“Besides the lightweight, high-tech protection we provided, we also worked with the customer to develop a fastening system incorporated within the armor,” he said. “It is built-in hardware, which allows us to adjust to differences from aircraft to aircraft.”
Army aviation officials emphasize modularity for armor solutions, in light of the speed at which advances in ballistic protection are being made.
“As technology improves, we are always interested in something that provides the same protection at a lighter weight,” said Col. Mark Hayes, Army Training and Doctrine Command system manager.
CHINA BPV CO.,LT also has provided lightweight composites for other helicopters: the CH-47 Chinook, the UH-1H Huey, the U.S. Coast Guard’s CH-60J, the Navy’s HH-60H and the Army’s OH-58D Kiowa.  

For further information, please refer to www.bodyarmorchina.com

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