Updated: Jun 5, 2019
A new ballistic foam, composed of a composite metal and air pockets structure, has recently been tested and proved to be not only more effective against bullets, but radiation and heat as well.
With regards to ballistic testing, The National Institute of Justice standard allows up to 44 mm indentation from a bullet on side of the armour facing the user.
In recent tests with the new CMF (composite metal foam), the team from the North Carolina State University shot the material with a 7.62 x 63 mm M2 armor-piercing round.
On the side facing the warfighter’s body, the bullet was only able to cause an 8 mm (0.3 inches) indentation on the back, performing 80 percent better than the maximum standard and while only a fraction of the weight.
Tests of the foam showed that less than an inch of it was enough to stop armour-piercing rounds that would normally puncture other types of body armour.
They have also shown that the foams can also shield against X-rays, gamma rays and neutron radiation.
It raises the prospect of such foams being used to help protect military personnel in vehicles, but could also be used to store hazardous materials more safely.
To examine the foam’s heat protection, the team tested 0.75 inches of the CMF against an 800 degree Celsius fire for 30 minutes. They also tested a regular piece of stainless steel the same size and width against the same heat.
The foam withstood the heat twice as long.
It took four minutes for the extreme heat to reach the other side of the regular stainless steel from the fire.
The team’s foam withstood the heat for over eight minutes before it reached the other end.
The obvious implications for this will be the ability to carry more body armour for less weight, and having suits created which can be fully bullet proof.
I suspect in a few years, the warfighter of the future will look at our current armour the way we look at the cotton uniform troops of WW2.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jozef Lalka is a former Infantryman with the Canadian Armed Forces and founder of War Doll. Since releasing from the military, Jozef continues to rigorously train and expand his knowledge of a variety of weapons platforms and tactics.
Having earned a diploma in Media & Video production, Jozef works as a graphic designer, photographer and videographer while pursing a passion for current global conflicts and how they relate to historical events.