Qioptiq logo Raytheon


By Julian Nettlefold, Editor, BATTLESPACE

27 Oct 06. On June 12th 2004 Chris was driving down Route 1 in Iraq in a vehicle he was assured was protected to level B6 – that is 7.62. In reality B6 actually means that the vehicle can stop 3 7.62 rounds in a pattern. He was not expecting what came next and is lucky to be alive to tell the tale. An Iraqi terrorist group conducted what is known as a ‘Shark Attack’ on his vehicle. That is, in James Bond parlance, an attack when a vehicle attacks at full speed from behind with the occupants emptying full magazines of high powered weapons into the vehicle. They are protected by hoods, body armour and glasses and in this case used 75 round magazines. Chris and his driver received a dose of 100 hits on the vehicle Chris was hit twice in the shoulder and his driver received two shots in the head which bounced off! The last volley punctured the tyres and without run-flats he was doomed and the vehicle skidded round across the road waiting for the final salvo. Chris grabbed the steering wheel and pumped the handbrake with the gear in neutral. At the same time he broadcast message that they were under attack and waited.

Luckily support arrived and he and his driver were taken to safety. In reporting the incident he realised that his £100,000 armoured vehicle was useless in the event of such attacks and required extra protection. That protection had to be non-lethal and covert to ensure that the systems were not spotted. He was at the presentation today.

He contacted MS Instruments Plc, leading experts in ballistic systems and the concept of the Nimbus self-protection system was developed.

Nimbus is an electronically operated self-defence system which has three different types of protection:

1. A Sound Unit pyrotechnic which deploys from under the vehicle and detonates at a staggering 160 decibels (a flash-bang is 80 decibels)

2. A Multi-Sound Airburst system, usually deployed from the rear of the vehicle.

3. A smoke discharger which dispenses smoke into the road and detonates in 4 seconds with 30 seconds worth of cover.

The systems are wired to a junction box which is then wired to a control box which initiates the protection. This box can be programmed to either detonate all the systems and then the rear airburst, just one side, right or left or just smoke. The latent systems are automatically armed when the first discharge takes place. The rear pyros are not automatically part of the first salvo as there any be a vehicle behind.

We were then shown three situations where the system could be deployed and given the required ear defenders, a necessity as we were soon to find out.

Scenario One – Unauthorised roadside checkpoints

It is common both in Iraq and Afghanistan for terrorists to set up unauthorised roadside checkpoints. The vehicle is told to stop and the terrorist force the occupants out on to the road to be shot or captured. When the Land Rover was stopped the system was initiated and both smoke and the sound pyros were detonated. Firstly the huge noise of the pryros disorientated the terrorist and made them think they were under attack and the smoke allowed the vehicle to withdraw under cover.

Scenario Two – ‘Shark attack’ in fast moving convoy

In the initial stages of the Iraq occupation a car with a mother and her two children detonated against a US HMMV and new tactics were introduced to keep vehicles 100m behind convoys. Using hand signals or smoke grenades, this system is only partially successful and some civilians became casualties. Lethal force cannot be used for fear of civilian casualties thus Nimbus can be deployed when the attacking vehicle comes close. Either the vehicle retires or the attacked vehicle can slow down sin the smoke so that the attacker crashes into the verge or the vehicle.

Scenario Three – Ambush of convoy or VIP car

One common form of attack is for convo

Back to article list