An increase of the level of protective and performance characteristics and of fighting efficiency of army units with the help of weight reduction is a major task for the designers of battle suits and light armored vehicles.
The weight reduction of armor panels to the required level and protective properties of light armor vehicles against the bullets with armor-piercing core of calibers 7,62 mm, 12,7 mm, 14,5 mm are getting impossible without armor ceramics usage.
The development of basic technologies for manufacturing armor panels on the basis of ceramics is one of the major directions of improving the system of personal and collective means of protection thus allowing raising significantly the level of protective and service properties of future products and reducing the mass of armor panels from 25 to 60% in comparison to the armor steel products (Fig.1, Fig. 2).
In NATO armies boron carbide and aluminum oxide armor ceramic items are widely used for manufacturing of armor panels of bulletproof vests, APC and armored vehicles, military helicopters, motor boats and other special vehicles /1/.
Designing of construction and manufacturing technologies of light armor panels on the basis of boron carbide is useful chiefly for advanced models of personal battle suits - bulletproof vests, protective clothing sets. The Armed Forces of Russian Federation currently use flak vests 6B13 (6Б13), 6B43 (6Б43) and protective clothing sets “Permyachka” («Пермячка») 6B 21-2 (6Б21-2), 6B22 - 2 (6Б22-2) that contain armor panels made of the alumuna oxide (Аl2O3) ceramics (corundum). They have the defense from 7,62 mm caliber bullets of the Dragunov sniper rifle. At the same time the mass of the armor panel with the protection level BR5 (Бр5) class according to the GOST (State Standard) Р 50744-95 and with the area 7,5 dm2 is more than 3,2 kg. The mass of the similar armor panel ESAPI made of boron carbide that is used by the USA Army for bulletproof vests “Interseptor” is 2,5 - 2,6 kg. with the area density 330-340 g/dm2.
The preliminary tests that were hold by OJSC “NII Stali (Scientific Research Institute of Steel)”, CJSC “Kirasa”, CJSC “FORT Technology inc.” have proved that armor panels made of boron carbide have the protection from the Dragunov sniper rifle with B - 32 bullets of 7,62 mm caliber; the area density of the sample is 300 - 320 g/dm2 (Fig.1).
The estimated requirement of armor panels made of boron carbide is about 100 000 units per year, which is equal to the manufacturing volume of boron carbide ceramic elements not less than 250 tons.
Within the scope of design and development works “Boron carbide” CJSC “NEVZ - Ceramics” designs a trial manufacturing technology of light armor panels made of Russian boron carbide in cooperation with “TsNIITochMash (Central Research Institute for Precision Machine Building)”, JSC “NII Stali (Scientific Research Institute of Steel)”, Moscow State University of Mechanical Engineering (MAMI) and “VIRIAL Ltd.”. The works are to be completed in 2015 with the manufacturing of light armor panels for personal and vehicle protection from 7,62 mm, 12,7 mm and 14,5 mm caliber bullets and the pilot production of armor constructions made of Russian boron carbide with a capacity of up to 25 tons per year. The mass production of boron carbide and silicon carbide armor constructions with the capacity of up to 300 tons per year is to be launched within the frame of Federal Target Programs during the period of 2015 - 2020.
Successful solutions to a set of design and process tasks of vehicle armor protection define the prospects of alumina oxide introduction to special armored vehicles. In accordance with the JLT (Joint Light Tactical Vehicle) Design and Purchase Program the USA Army Division of Armored vehicles and Armament undertakes the design of 5 JLTV models with future purchasing of up to 160 000 units of this vehicles /2/.
According to the sources /3, 4/, there is a tendency of an increase of purchase orders on Russian - manufactured armor vehicle with ceramic elements that have the protection against enhanced penetration bullets for the security agencies of Russian Federation.
The testing results of the correspondence of the armor ceramics manufactured at CJSC “NEVZ - Ceramics” to BR5 protection class according to GOST (state standard) Р 50963-96 prove that the mass of an alumina oxide armor panel can be reduced from 25% to 50% in comparison with similar constructions made of armor steel with the defense from 7,62 mm caliber bullets B - 32 (Б - 32) of the Dragunov sniper rifle (Fig.2). The attached armor panels with the surface mass of 70,0 kg/m2, adjusted to the upper board of BTR - 80, frontal and side projection and to the turret of BRDM - 3, were successfully tested at the Central research and development center of the Russian Ministry of Defense for the ballistic resistance against the B - 32 bullets of the KPVT MACHINE GUN with 14,5 mm caliber at the distances of 200m, 100m, 50m, 30m and 10m including the tests of armor vehicle functioning in the simulated environment with the temperature minus 50°С.
Alumina oxide ceramic panels with the surface mass 75 kg/m2 manufactured by CJSC “NEVZ-CERAMICS” have successfully passed the acceptance tests in the leading testing center IABG (Lichtenau, Germany) according to STANAG 4569 AEP-55 level 3 (Certificate number С13053) and level 4 (Certificate number С13057, fragment firing FSP20 mm).
The current production of CJSC “NEVZ-CERAMICS” and LLC «NEVZ-Elastoplast» allows manufacturing of up to 100 tons of armor panels of different protection levels for Russian and foreign orders. Within the frame of Federal Target Programs during the period of 2015 – 2020 the mass production of alumina oxide and boron oxide parts for armor panels with a capacity of up to 2500 tons is planned.
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