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By Julian Nettlefold, Editor, BATTLESPACE

“More of our troops are being killed by blast than bullets,” – American military quote from Iraq.

BATTLESPACE Editor, Julian Nettlefold met up with Hobson Industries to discuss the Hobson’s strategy in combining blast and ballistic technology to defeat new and existing IED threats.

“The understanding of blast technology and the effects of an explosion are hugely complex given the different effects experienced during an explosion. To put the matter into context a blast exhibited by the detonation of a 1.5 – 3kg anti-vehicle mine will give a resonant shock wave of 7 kilometres a second,” Hobson, told BATTLESPACE Editor Julian Nettlefold.

“Previous efforts to defeat blast damage include ballistic metal blast plates under vehicles and the famous ‘V’ shaped hull as used in many anti-mine vehicles throughout the world including the Mastiff vehicles recently deployed to Iraq. Whilst this ‘V’ formation deflects the blast it does not protect the occupants fully from the ‘effect’ of the blast. Given the weight and size of these vehicles they are unlikely to be able to deploy off–road and thus avoid the main threat, roadside bombs. In lighter vehicles, unable to carry large amounts of armoured steel, either a ballistic metal plate is attached below the vehicle or composites are used on the sides and interior. None of this technology absorbs the blast, which is the key to defeating this threat.”

“Surely the Stanag Levels of protection so often quoted in discussions about such threats address this problem?” the Editor asked

“The Stanag Levels are based on the ballistic fragmentation threat, not the threat resulting from a blast. Indeed many metal ballistic protectors actually increase the likelihood of shrapnel entering the vehicle due to the disintegration of the protection plate,” Hobson continued.

“In order that we may impress on our readers the effects of a blast of such a mine, could you tell us in detail what may occur?” the Editor asked

“In short, and I hope you are not squeamish, the blast will lift the vehicle about three feet in as many seconds leaving the occupants at the same position which will in effect cause a shock wave that will break their legs, split their spleen, cause deafness and loss of eyes due to the increased pressure. That is on the way up! On the way down crushing of the head and further damage to limbs will be experienced and resulting fire from severed fuel lines will then cook the occupants,” Hobson said.

“Not a particularly savoury experience for anyone, and a very unreported one. Reports usually concentrate on fragmentation damage,” the Editor said.

“It is easier to explain death and wounding through damage from fragments and bullets rather than from the pressure of a blast, which is an unseen foe,” Hobson continued.

“Why do you see combining blast and ballistic technology as so important?” the Editor asked.

“A number of our customers are using metallic blast plates on their vehicles. We have been experimenting with a number of composite products and are in discussions with a number of suppliers. Not only is composite lighter, thus putting less strain on the vehicle and its suspension, it absorbs blast better than metal and causes less dangerous fragmentation. In addition, having obtained this capability, Hobsons will then be able to supply all the technologies under one roof.”

During our visit to Hobsons last year, BATTLESPACE was shown the comprehensive armouring facilities at Hobsons. The company has CAD/CAM facilities to assist in the designs for the armour fits. All armour steel cutting and bending is carried out by Hobsons on site using advanced machine tools.

Hobson Industries Limited utilise the latest specification steel and composite technologies to ensure that all vehicle protection systems are ready to meet the latest threat levels. With comprehensive

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