Tests performed by the US Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) have found that certain types of rubber, called polyureas, could offer better corrosion protection for amphibious assault vehicles (AAVs).
Five different coatings, including two types of paint, two polyureas developed by a private company and a polyurea used by NRL in other armour applications, were tested.
Led by researchers Dr Ray Gamache and Dr Mike Roland and conducted at NRL's Key West facility, the testing found that polyurea coatings could better protect the armour from corrosion by stretching with it, rather than cracking like brittle paint.
The testing also found that polyurea coatings slow bullets and blast fragments, providing better ballistic protection to AAVs.
Dr Roland said: "We solved the corrosion problem. And with a negligible increase in weight, we also provided a higher payload capacity and the potential for better ballistic protection."
Designed for use by the US Marine Corps (USMC), the AAVs are highly mobile, tracked armoured amphibious vehicles that can transport soldiers and cargo across land and water.
Introduced in 1972, USMC is currently planning to extend the AAV through 2035. This new development is expected to help extend the life of today's AAVs and also guide the next generation of ship to shore connectors.
USMC Advanced Amphibious Assault (AAA) office representative Tim Bergland said: "Innovative sustainment concepts, like those NRL is investigating, enable us to avoid the cost of new design, development, and production of new components."
Image: Amphibious assault vehicles (AAVs) demonstrated ship to shore connector capabilities in Feb 14 at Camp Pendleton. Photo: courtesy of Lance Cpl Ricardo Hurtado/USMC.