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The Ministry of Defence is giving industry the chance to put its armour systems of the future to the test

Scientists at the MOD's Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) in Wiltshire are used to testing armour materials and systems in rigorously controlled ways as part of the development and acceptance of armour for UK armed forces.

Such testing is often difficult for SMEs to undertake. Dstl uses weapons and explosives that are not generally available and must be carried out safely and in well characterised conditions. It is also not cheap.

As part of its quest to find the very best armour solutions for UK forces, Dstl’s Armour and Protection Science and Technology Centre (A&P STC) is providing access to test facilities for SMEs who have developed armour materials or systems but who are having difficulties in putting them through their paces.

The offer has been taken up by several SMEs. The cost to each of these is just the cost of supplying the material or system, the A&P STC covers the cost of testing.

Prof Bryn James of Dstl says the A&P STC wants to help SMEs realise their potential: "The A&P STC exists to help UK industry to supply the protection equipment that the MOD needs. This trial series will help innovative SMEs to undertake testing that they would otherwise find difficult or expensive to do. We can also ensure that the testing is done in the right way so that test results can be used to identify technologies and techniques to take forward for future protection requirements."

Steve Oxley of Titanium Castings (UK) Ltd appreciates the support received from Dstl: "Titanium Castings (UK) Ltd is developing titanium armour solutions with the help of Dstl and this provides a unique opportunity for us to carry out live fire testing that otherwise would not be achievable."

The first set of trials, which took place recently, was well attended. The A&P STC hopes that the trial series will lead to further investment in the SMEs products, ultimately providing UK personnel with improved armour protection.


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