BAE Systems Develops Liquid Armor for Canadian Troops

BAE Systems has announced that they have signed a memorandum of understanding with a Canadian company called Helios Global Technologies to further develop liquid armor technologies. Although liquid armor developments have started a while ago (the early 2000s), this announcement from BAE Systems seems to be a move towards the creation of a certain military product.

Anne Healey, BAE Systems’ General Manager – Canada said:

Liquid armour could offer our troops increased protection but be lighter, allowing for greater manoeuvrability.

I’m pleased we have been able to sign this MoU with Helios as their reputation in ballistic and blast protection means they’re well placed to help deliver this capability to Canada in the future.”

According to BAE, liquid armor has an advantage of being lighter than other armor materials at comparable protection levels. When combined with Kevlar, it also allows 45% of body armor thickness reduction as well as allows more motion freedom for the soldiers. So when the projectile hits such armor, the special liquid media (similar to non-Newtonian fluids) immediately hardens at the point of impact and restricts the motion of Kevlar yarns making it harder and more resistant to the impact. At the same time, when there is no stress of impact, it keeps the armor flexible enough not to constrain the dexterity of soldier’s motions.

If this liquid armor technology works “as advertised” and gets deployed anytime soon, that would be a real challenge for ammunition designers to develop small arms projectiles that could effectively penetrate this type of body armor. So the endless race of ammunition and armor designers continues.



Hrachya H

Being a lifelong firearms enthusiast, Hrachya always enjoys studying design, technology and history of guns and ammunition. His knowledge of Russian allows him to translate and make Russian/Soviet/Combloc small arms related information available for the English speaking audience.
Should you need to contact him, feel free to shoot him a message at TFBHrachyaH@gmail.com


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  • Major Tom

    The future is wireframes!

  • Brett baker

    12.7 should defeat it. Which means we’ll need to adopt exoskeleton to carry heavier armor…. and weapons to penetrate the enemy’s armor and…. “CAP TROOPERS! ON THE BOUNCE!

    • .45

      Someone should do a movie or series faithful to the book. That would be awesome.

      • Giolli Joker

        Starship troopers? My biggest complaint about the movie was: why the hell having half mankind slaughtered on a foreign planet when you could just nuke it from space???
        I hope the book tackles better the strategic choices behind the action.

        • Palmier

          Yes. In the book the planets are nuked from space first but the bugs live underground so they have to land and fight. Actually very little of the book concerns combat, its 90% training and politics.

          • Giolli Joker

            Makes more sense.
            Although my answer would still be more nukes until the planet is hotter than a star… 🙂
            But you mention politics… and people are cheaper than plutonium…

        • Flounder

          the book is fundamentally different than that silly movie. Nothing is the same. (i think of the movie as a satire of fascism and kinda a joke as a whole. It makes it deliciously hilarious).

          Like in the book, each mobile infantryman carries multiple nukes and can “bounce” (it’s like a rocket assisted jump that doesn’t run out in a reasonable amount of time) thousands of feet. The exoskeletons are some crazy sophicated hardware too. They have flamethrowers, rockets, bombs, optional nukes, and machine guns. (I forget if they can carry everything at once) Not to mention you could probably tear a bug apart with your hands. They have more in common with freaking iron man than anything else.

          A major tactic meant to capitalize on their insane mobility is a raid. You land a force (kinda like paratroops, dropped individually and from space) and then those soldiers cross hundreds of miles blowing the crap outta everything they see and bouncing away before their bombs have even gone off.

          The invasion of the bug planet was in the book, it was called a raid as well, but they landed and held positions, it is one of the scenes that you could use to argue that the book is also a satire of fascism. Although the book in large portrays a… Utopian ideal form of fascism. (no nazi’s anywhere, racial equality, no real disparity between citizens other than those who can vote and those that can’t). It also purposefully ignores some of the harder points of fascism.

          But there really is very little fighting between the bugs and the humans relative to the entire book.

        • bull

          nuke? kinetic projectiles would be cheaper.

          • John Daniels

            Just get a copy and read the book. Heinlein explains his reasoning for their weapons, armor, and tactics, among many other things.

            Kinetic weapons got ditched entirely, IIRC.

          • Swarf

            You mean rocks?

        • .45

          My biggest complaint about the movie is everything.

          OK, it was entertaining to a degree as satire, but the first time I watched it I annoyed everyone around by constantly saying “That didn’t happen in the book” and “Where is the POWER ARMOR?!?!” Seriously, the book and the movie are two entirely different entities with only some names to connect the two. The book, as mentioned, had power armor that let the troops carry all kinds of weapons. One Mobile Infantry trooper from the book would be a horror to any conventional force today, the guys in the movie could be slaughtered in the dozens by a few rednecks with Mosins. The Bugs also were intelligent and used weapons as well. Just find a copy somewhere and try reading it, you’ll see it is totally different.

      • Phillip Cooper

        God, yes. There is no excuse not to, with CGI. The one darn thing CGI could be useful for, instead of anything Micheal Bay is doing.

        This book was quite formative in my youth, as were several of his other books. It’s time I get to re-reading them.

        • .45

          Following this tangent down the rabbit hole, try the Lensmen series too. Apparently it is the first use of power armor in SciFi and was the inspiration for the suits in Starship Troopers.

          • Phillip Cooper

            Thanks, who’s the author?

          • Brett baker

            E.E. “doc”Smith. Try to not laugh too hard at the men in anti-grav platforms with “slide rules at the ready”, though.

          • Phillip Cooper

            Thank you sir, will do!

    • Flounder

      You used on the bounce perfectly. +1 to you sir.

  • Holdfast_II

    It turns out that the “liquid” is actually Molson Canadian, and the troops were found to have “accidentally” consumed their own armor before breakfast.

  • Body armor is a rapidly evolving field, while ballistics is pretty stagnant. It will be interesting watching planners and engineers learn to cope with that fact.

    • Twilight sparkle

      Do you think the rapid advancements in armour could spur more serious efforts into developing ammunition that doesn’t fit the traditional form; something such as the ctsas you previously reported on?

      • Frank

        Probably depends on how how much it’s actually fielded. If the US didn’t spend a crazy amount developing stealth multirole fighters, there wouldn’t be any, chicken and the egg problem.

      • jcitizen

        Maybe a hand held rail gun with a “flux-capacitor” to power it! (I kid – I kid)

      • Secundius

        I suspect you’re talking about the 6.5mm CTSAS?/! If so at least two other designs are the works too. One in 7mm and the other in 8.6mm…

    • therealgreenplease

      Agreed. I wonder if we’ll just have to use concussive weapons in the future (e.g. an airburst weapon with a powerful enough shock wave in a given blast radius to incapacitate/kill).

    • Giolli Joker

      I believe that the engineers would easily find a technically viable solution… the hard part is making it economically viable…
      I mean, CTA APFSDS would surely be doable and extremely effective against armour… at 100x the cost of current enhanced penetration rounds.
      Finding a balance will be the real challenge… however, it will be very interesting too.

      • Phillip Cooper

        CTA?
        I get APFSDS. Don’t comprende CTA…

        • Giolli Joker

          Cased Telescoped Ammunition.
          The configuration I mentioned exists for a 40mm cannon developed by the Anglo-French CTA International.

          • Secundius

            The largest CTA I’ve seen was a 155x900mm Cartridge, with a range exceeding 85nmi…

  • Anonymoose
  • Swarf

    This is the first I’m hearing about an oobleck based armor system.

    Better invest in cornstarch futures.

    • Brett baker

      Nice to be able to remind everyone agriculture is a strategic industry.

  • yvette99

    So how does this square with that story about an Air Force cadet inventing it in 2016?

  • ActionPhysicalMan

    It is hard to imagine that 5.56 is going to remain an adequate round for torso shots much longer even without new armor tech. I don’t think M855A1 will penetrate even just level III plates from any rifle at 150 yards. Level III plates are cheap enough for just about anyone now.

    • Jan Moszczuk

      M855A1 will penetrate Level III+, although I don’t remember the range

      • ActionPhysicalMan

        The Wound Channel, Chopping Block, and Buffman tests were all at 30ft or less. The M855A1 has a G1 BC of about .307. At 3100fps it loses 300fps in the first 100 yards.

    • FF

      Because badguys stand like a paper target in the open presenting theyr body armor at 150yards……

      They hide behind solid cover and foliage. Not presenting theyr torso to begin with, usually only half the head and the barrel above hard cover.

      • ActionPhysicalMan

        I had imagined that soldiers were most often hit by rifle fire when moving, flanked, or caught unaware. I have tried to find data about infantry battle rifle hit/wound locations but have been unable so far. You sound like you have those numbers, could you share them?

  • Jeremy

    They laughed at my 20mm Oerlikon handheld battle rifle idea, but they will see I was right!

    • Secundius

      Sounds a lot like the Iranian Baher-23 (23x115mm), with a range of ~4,000-meters…

  • Palmier

    The thing that scares me is that if this is true, its the end of 2A. What is the point of guns if the government is invincible to them?

    • Flounder

      ? this is stupid. Shoot them in the face, or the finger, or the toes. This armor will never be adapted for arms or legs.(we still don’t have lvl 4 arm or leg protection that I am aware of, if you know of any. then I humbly implore you to share this knowledge) Body armor covers a very small part of the body. Multiple hits or anything magnum are still going to defeat this. If anything it will make the 50bmg’s popular.

      AND that is IF this armor was ever fielded in significant quantities. It probably wont be.

      And your arguement is stupid. It’s like “the government has planes and tanks! OH NO! you can’t shoot that!” But then… In syria, they shoot the planes with rifles. Its easy, planes have to spend more time on the ground than in the air. And tanks are for fighting armor, not people, don’t be around when they show up, or shoot the guy driving the fuel truck. Or blah blah blah. No one is going to play into your strengths willingly. Your argument implies all gun owners are stupid and anti government. It also assumes that the government knows what it is doing and is efficient (oh yeah i am laughing as I write that line.) and has people who are willing to show up and kill citizens who have done nothing wrong.

      • Jan Moszczuk

        It has those people – but hey are in minority especially in LE/Military, so the government would have to augment/replace them with some kind of mercenaries

      • .45

        I got into an argument one time with an anti gun guy who honestly told me he didn’t think the average gun owning America was smart enough to go with guerilla warfare and would just get together with other like minded people and march straight into missiles. I had no real response to that. It’s not like half the gun owners out there are ex military who were trained in this sort of thing…

  • nick

    ok, ok ….here it is, the secret liquid material.!

    in Canada, we have two types of this liquid Armor,

    TYPE 1
    for use in most of the country, its Maple Syrup, grades 1-3 depending on the pancake threat level

    TYPE 2
    for use in Quebec , as well as northern areas where its imperative to keep the fluid from freezing, while still being dense enough to stop hostile fire. Its Poutine Gravy…this has the advantage as well as stopping kinetic energy Cheese Curds ( yes , Curds, see, we are pulling our weight in Syria !!)

    ( on a serious note, as a retired armor development guy, this stuff is pretty neat, almost as good as the tech in the BAE Active armor Camouflage system , ADAPTIV)

    look that up…its REALLY neat.

    🙂

  • Max Müller

    Soft body armor is level 3a.
    The army needs level 4 because they get shot with rifles. No armor is better than level 3a because at least you can move faster.
    And they won’t get their kevlar with non-newtonian fluid to stop 3000ft/sec rifle rounds. The relaxation times of kevlarand non-newtonian fluids are both well below that.
    Go watch a video of somebody shooting a waterbaloon full oobleck. And a level 3a panel getting defeated by 50grain 9mm ammo, FN 5-7 pistol, MP7 4.6mm ammo,…
    There are certain limitations to all materials that are currently available and might be produced in the near future, at least for economic reasons if not the pure physics itself.
    Citizen armor is trying carbon fiber/carbon nanotube soft body armor. Safelife defense is advancing with kevlar. Those are the guys i will be watching with interest and faith. Not some canadian liquid armor vapoware even vaporer than Dragonskin armor.

    • jim

      I read a while back about metal “foam”. Shredded the bullets and was light weight. Anybody know if that hit a dead end?

      • Secundius

        It’s called CMF (Composite Metal Foam)!/? Was designed for the Space Industry in Stopping X-Rays and Mirco-Meteorite Impacts. Test Round was a .30-06 (7.62×63.3) M2 AP round which “Disintegrated upon impact. Test sample had only ~8mm of CMP Compound. Normal Armor Compound would have been at least 44mm Thick. ALON, or “Aluminum Oxynitride” of ~41mm Thickness will stop a .50BMG (12.7x99mm) AP round at Point-Blank Range…

  • CountryBoy

    In a related article, a 21 year old Air Force cadet has developed something very similar where 1/4″ of the material will stop 9mm followed by multiple .44 Mag rounds…..

  • steve

    get, , out! I was literally just thinking to myself it would be cool if they could make some light, more ergonomic armor out of some non-newtonian fluid like substance just a couple days ago. in fact, I was thinking it could cover a greater area of the body, similar to they picture they provide, but with the femoral arteries/thighs covered(think old-time striped bathing suits from the twenties.) that blows my mind.