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VESTLIFE – A NEW ULTRALIGHT BALLISTIC MODULAR SOLUTION

The demands of protective clothing are strict and mostly contradictory, since they require the combination of optimal protection and comfort. For instance, dense, non-permeable textiles increase the protection, but are uncomfortable, making the design and development of effective protective clothing a complex issue. Optimization between physiological burden and protection is needed to create the ideal suit for a specific mission.

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INTRODUCTION The VESTLIFE project is under the Preparatory Action on Defence Research (PADR), the grant for the Research Action call on the topic of 'Force protection and advanced soldier systems beyond current programmes', in the subtopic 'Tailor-made blast, ballistic and CBRN protection of military personnel'. It was signed on April 27th, 2018, and has a duration of 36 months. This project is led by AITEX (Spain), encompassing 5 other participants in the consortium from 5 countries: CITEVE (Portugal), Brapa Consultancy (Netherlands), TECNALIA (Spain), Petroceramics (Italy) and FY-Composites (Finland). This project aims to develop different types of ballistic protection armour with advanced features. The protection system will consist of different levels, mainly soft and hard armour. The optimum architecture of materials on the body will encompass an equilibrium established, based on both the comfort experience and the protective performance. A software model will provide insights and the ability to define clothing architectures to be created in the integration step and to validate the performance of the clothing. The technical work of the current project lies in the development of lighter and modular ballistic protections, and therefore, the possibility of increasing the covered surface without handicapping comfort, and customizing the protection requirement of the different body areas (adapting it to the mission's risk level and to the vital body organs). In parallel, CBRN sensors will be integrated for the detection of possible risks, in addition to developing a mathematical model predictive of the possible expected risks in the different scenarios that may arise. RESULTS AND DISCUSSION The scenarios have been defined and the requirements, both ballistic, have been established, taking into account international testing standards, such as comfort, and having collected first-hand information through the conduct of surveys to soldiers. Ballistic protections are being formulated through the development of composite materials of an auxhetic nature and three-dimensional textiles that complement the materials of more traditional use. Simultaneously, polymeric panels based on ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE), are being developed and modified to serve as a basis under which the auxhetic materials that complement and improve their behavior are included. These panels have proven to be suitable for ballistic room testing under NATO Standard STANAG 2920, establishing a NIJ III requirement level with a V50 x 847 m/s using a 7.62 mm FMJ (Full Metal Jacket) ammunition or metal-coated bullet tip. Synthesis of modified ceramics for ballistic panels that reach NIJ IV level, maximum in protection, is also underway. These developments and, consequently testings, are currently ongoing in their respective work packages. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS The authors gratefully acknowledge the funding by the European Union's Preparatory Action on Defence Research under Grant Agreement No 800876.

Keywords

security, defence, research

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