MKU will be displaying a range of its lightweight armour solutions, many already in service, and briefing original equipment manufacturers, upgrade project managers and end users on its capabilities at DSEi 2009, which will be held between 8-11 September 2009. The company is exhibiting at stand 1924. Lightweight armour manufacturers and integrators like MKU are able to offer such solutions for aircraft, vehicles and naval vessels when they are being built or later, when they are being upgraded to meet higher threat levels.

With their armed forces ever more heavily engaged in the asymmetric warfare in Afghanistan, many governments are expressing concern about the protection of troops on the ground and in the air. The range of threats, from small arms through rocket propelled grenades to improvised explosive devices such as explosively formed projectiles, is growing, and to be effective against such threats, the ballistic protection of military vehicles, helicopters and transport aircraft must develop quickly to stay ahead.

In an ideal world, such protection would be ‘designed in’ at the first stages of development, and many of the recently fielded mine-protected vehicles have incorporated such design, with v-shaped monocoque hulls and driving positions well away from the axles. Unfortunately, many other vehicles and most helicopters and transport aircraft deployed in Afghanistan and other combat zones cannot be fundamentally redesigned.

Their ballistic protection can, however, be significantly improved by the use of additional armour, both externally and internally. Moreover, if such armour can be installed and removed on the way to, in or on the way out of the theatre of operations, as the threat levels change, not only can logistical flexibility be increased but also acquisition cost can be reduced.

Of course, if the installation of such ballistic protection results in a significant increase to the platform weight and a consequent decrease in mobility, range and payload, the benefits will be lost. However, modern, lightweight armour solutions, using materials like polyethylene, aramide, glass fibre and ceramic composites, can provide substantially improved protection levels with much less additional weight than that of traditional armour materials such as steel or aluminium.