Lightweight ceramic armor plates on the basis of boron carbide nanopowder in the long term could be used to create body armor, protection equipment and other military facilities. Developed by the company called “Novosibirsk electrovacuum production plant Soyuz”, this industrial technology allows to reduce the weight of armor 4 times while increasing the effectiveness of protection for those who are being protected by such armor.
The development of the experimental technology of armor materials based on boron carbide was initiated by Russian Ministry of Industry and Trade. The Soyuz was the only participant in open competition to build heavy-duty armor plates.
According to representatives of the company, the declared effectiveness of protection of personnel and equipment exceeds the current level by 5-6 times, and the cost of finished military products at the same time is going to be 15-25% lower than the existing defense-related systems. Ceramic material-based armor is lighter than steel by 2-3 times, and the use of boron carbide is important in order to adapt this technology for the aircraft.
According to Alexey Filatov, an expert and a veteran of the “Alpha” anti-terrorist group, this development is a very promising material, and that its creation is vitally important not only for the Russian army, but for all law enforcement agencies. He also added, that it is likely that the new nano-armor will become a well-known brand in the market of weapons and equipment, similarly as the Kalashnikov rifle. According to Alexey, it also would be profitable for Russia to have companies producing equipment and weapons that are superior in quality in respect of foreign counterparts.
New boron carbide-based armor plates ensure protection from 7.62 mm caliber bullets. Such armor, when adapted in military vehicles, will be able to shield from bullets of calibers 12.7 mm and 14.5 mm. Plates capable of withstanding up to five bullets hitting at a distance of 70 mm from each other will be used to manufacture body armor.
Light armor plates for military vehicles should be able to hold up to eight hits at a distance of 100 mm from each other. New material provides 98% protection against the penetration of bullets and can be used at temperatures ranging from -50 °C to +50 °C without compromising the protective qualities.
Alexey Filatov says, that Russia currently doesn’t have enough flying military vehicles which would be protected at least from regular firearms from the underneath. Such situation is obvious with well-known Mi-8: as a rule, when flying in this helicopter, soldiers and officers place conventional body armor beneath them. According to A. Filatov, the new nano-armor will be significantly lighter than the conventional armor, and it can be also attached to hulls of helicopters.
Currently the specialists from the “Soyuz” company are developing documentation for all phases of manufacturing technology process, including the production of nanostructured boron carbide molding powder (produced from raw materials obtained from local sources in Russia), production of ceramic elements and light armor plates on the basis of this material, and production of sample units and development of test procedures. By this November, the company is obligated to submit documents for production and test equipment to the Russian Ministry of Industry.
The next stage of research and development (prototyping and testing) will begin in December and will run until November of the following year. The introduction of technology into production lines is planned for the 4th quarter of 2015. The design and implementation of technology is funded from the federal budget; 145 million rubles (~4,4 million US dollars) is allocated for this purpose.
Alius Noreika, source: Technology.org