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Advanced Transparent Armor Materials and Manufacturing Methods


OBJECTIVE: The objective of this feasibility study is to develop innovative transparent armor for Ground Mobility Vehicles (GMV) that is lighter than existing transparent armor and that is affordable. Develop innovative transparent armor that is at least 25% lighter at a given protection level and in the current space claim than current transparent armor in GMV. The cost of the innovative armor should be no more than twice the cost of a current flat panel purchased in a lot of 500 (estimated at $230.00 per panel). The flat panel technology should be scalable into a curved armor panel as well, with a projected cost of not more than 8 times the flat innovative panel in a similar size. DESCRIPTION: Compared to opaque armor, transparent armor used to make current ballistic glass is much heavier. Current advanced transparent armor is much lighter, but also much more expensive. Use of transparent armor in some form or fashion is necessitated by the need for a vehicles crew to achieve and maintain maximum situational awareness (SA). Development of new transparent solutions that provide significant weight reductions at an affordable cost will allow current vehicles to: 1) carry more payload in all vehicle classes and 2) reduce the visual signature in Non Standard Commercial Vehicles (NSCV) if it is also thinner. Additionally, the logistics burden could be reduced due to less fuel being required to operate the lighter vehicles and less weight in stocking and transporting replacement ballistic windows. Safety is also enhanced if transparent armor is applied to door panels reducing the effort needed to open during a rollover or other emergency egress situations. The transparent material for this SBIR should be capable of meeting Army Purchase Description (ATPD) 2352P focused on optimum clarity with the use of night vision goggles and resistance to environmental weathering. Controlled environmental and ballistic tests will confirm the transparent material performance. For this effort, the new transparent technology must be a direct replacement for the GMV front windshield with a weight savings goal of 25% at a target cost of no more than twice that of the current glass. The new transparent technology also needs to be scalable into curved transparent armor of similar size, with the center of the panel being 2 inches further out than the sides. Specific consideration for the curved panel needs to consider manufacturing capability, optical clarity at various view angles, and what durability or life of the curved panel would be in comparison to a similar flat panel. Current advanced transparent armor technology has shown that weight savings of roughly 50% over standard ballistic glass is achievable but the current exceptional costs of 6 to 10 times that of glass make it unrealistic for vehicle application. This effort seeks to bridge that gap by producing a significant reduction in weight, while being affordable enough to realistically field. PHASE I: Conduct feasibility (Technology Readiness Levels), affordability (cost/square feet for existing and selected material), environmental suitability (compliance with Army Purchase Description (ATPD) 2352P in terms of solar degradation, optical clarity, wear resistance, scalability (for NSCV and GMV class vehicles) and manufacturability (Manufacturing Readiness Levels) studies of the recommended transparent material in curved and flat form. Select a single optimum material to address both curved and flat applications from the feasibility studies and design a flat GMV replacement window and a size representative curved window, using the design, project weight, manufacturing cost (in 500 unit quantities). Also analyze the expected ballistic performance of the transparent material and predict the level of small arms protection it will offer. Develop a should cost assessment of manufacturing costs in 500 unit quantity lots for both curved and flat panels. The objective of this USSOCOM Phase I SBIR effort is to conduct and document the results of a thorough feasibility study to investigate what is in the art of the possible within the given trade space that will satisfy a needed technology. The feasibility study should investigate all known options that meet or exceed the minimum performance parameters specified in this write up. It should also address the risks and potential payoffs of the innovative technology options that are investigated and recommend the option that best achieves the objective of this technology pursuit. The funds obligated on the resulting Phase I SBIR contracts are to be used for the sole purpose of conducting a thorough feasibility study using scientific experiments and laboratory studies as necessary. Operational prototypes will not be developed with USSOCOM SBIR funds during Phase I feasibility studies. Operational prototypes developed with other than SBIR funds that are provided at the end of Phase I feasibility studies will not be considered in deciding what firm(s) will be selected for Phase II. PHASE II: Manufacture prototypes of the transparent armor material in a standard ballistic testing configuration. Validate agreed upon ballistic, optical, Night Vision Goggle (NVG), environmental performance in accordance with ATPD 2352P (see reference). PHASE III DUAL-USE APPLICATIONS: Phase III military applications include replacement of any heavy ballistic glass solutions currently in GMV"s via attrition. Alternate applications include upgrades to current vehicles to increase the viewing area in a vehicle without increasing the current weight of the vehicle. Civilian sector applications include armored cars for dignitaries, business executives and monetary transport.
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