In a politically volatile world, EU civilian personnel such as aid workers and peacekeepers are continuously subjected to a number of security threats such as criminal acts, terrorist raids and even bomb explosions. This has prompted European governments to search for ways to enhance security for their personnel abroad. The EU-funded project RAPTOR developed inflatable structures made of a multitude of fibrous aramide textile layers to minimise ballistic impact from hand guns, hand grenades and improvised explosive devices. Aramide is a synthetic polymer capable of being extruded into very strong, heat-resistant fibres. Researchers optimised the fibre weaving technique and treatment by lamination to achieve the greatest resistance to impact of the selected ammunition. They then turned their attention to the gas generator to rapidly and safely inflate the folded protective shield. The gas generator is similar in concept to that used to inflate air bags in the case of a car accident. However, since the shield is worn, the team utilised hot gas production for the inflation and cooling for safe deployment. All these achievements contributed to the manufacture and testing of a functional prototype. The ballistic shield deployed rapidly and withstood the impact of bullets, fragments and blasts. The project delivered three different shield concepts for individuals, for groups of two to five persons, and for the general security of events. Technology will be further developed as a commercially available protection kit for law enforcement and could also be useful in situations such as large-scale sporting or entertainment events. RAPTOR's innovative security kit is poised to make the world a safer place and hopefully to save lives. This, in turn, contributes to the ability of organisations to successfully recruit personnel and thus to the continued high-level functioning of critically important aid and security entities.
Crime, terrorism, ballistic shield, explosive devices, aramide, security kit