View Full Version : Company creates peel-and-stick safety

12-06-03, 07:49 AM
Issue Date: December 08, 2003

Company creates peel-and-stick safety
Lightweight armor intended to help troops in Persian Gulf

By Gidget Fuentes
Times staff writer

SAN DIEGO — Mortars, land mines, snipers and improvised roadside bombs pose a constant threat to U.S. troops in Iraq — particularly those patrolling the streets in Humvees.
In response to the nearly daily casualty reports, officials with a small Pacific Northwest company said they hope to convince the Army and Marine Corps that their product — lightweight adhesive armor for vehicles — could be rapidly deployed to start saving lives.

The “peel-and-stick” armor developed by Armor Systems International of Vancouver, Wash., was among several commercial products recently tested at the Army’s Aberdeen Test Center in Maryland.

The company also planned to test the effectiveness of its armor against improvised explosive devices at Quantico, Va., the week of Dec. 1, said Jay Rose, director of military sales for Armor Systems International.

“Weight, cost and protection are absolutely the key to having an effective armoring system,” said Rose, a retired Army lieutenant colonel. “They are taking a lot of casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan right now because of a lack of armored vehicles in there.”

The Army has stepped up its effort to get more heavily armored vehicles, mostly the M1114 “up-armored” Humvee, to troops in the region. Army officials have asked for $177 million to buy the armored Humvees, which cost $150,000 apiece.

But Armor Systems International officials said their Aztik Armor Protection system can protect vehicle occupants at a fraction of the cost of an armored Humvee. It would cost roughly $10,000 to outfit a Humvee with the Aztik armor, company officials said.

The idea man

The idea for the armoring system came from Jim Henry, the company’s chief technical officer and a military history buff who has spent 21 years developing industrial adhesives. “I was always fascinated by armor, not just the weapon itself,” Henry said.

A few years ago, working in his garage, he toyed with the idea of developing a lightweight, peel-and-stick armor for aircraft. After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, he and his brother, a SWAT lieutenant in Oregon, worked through the bugs to design an adhesive for flexible armor that could stop a .50-caliber round.

The result, Henry said, is a composite of ceramics, polymers and woven materials with an adhesive backing that is less than half the weight of existing armor on a Humvee.

Where to use the panels

Panels can be used to cover the doors, floor, roof and seats of a Humvee. Similar armoring kits would provide protection for other combat support vehicles. With the peel-and-stick nature of the Aztik panels, a two-member Humvee crew could armor their vehicle in about an hour, officials said.

The company also is developing field-repair kits to fill in holes from rounds or shrapnel and extend the time before the armor needs to be replaced.

“A shot here and a shot there isn’t going to hurt,” Rose said.

The company has conducted demonstrations and tests with National Guardsmen and law-enforcement agencies in Oregon.

In tests earlier this summer, the armor panels held up against .50-caliber armor-piercing rounds, according to a report in the July issue of Military Technology. The company also reports the armor has withstood impacts by 5.56mm and .30-caliber rounds.

At Aberdeen, testers with the Army’s Tank-automotive and Armaments Command evaluated the armor in various scenarios.

“We thought it did well,” Rose said, “but they didn’t tell us.”

If it gets the Army’s blessing, the product could be purchased and deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan through the Army’s “rapid fielding” initiative. TACOM spokesman Don Jarocz said program officials were not available for an interview.

Rose said the company’s goal is to get the armor system into the hands of the soldiers, “to get it to the front line … to assess its capability in the eyes of the soldier.”