TekShield ADVANCED ARMOR – FROM CONCEPT TO REALITY
By Julian Nettlefold
In May 2006 Lockheed Martin announced that it had developed and demonstrated a new lightweight, low-cost tactical vehicle armor that promised exceptional multi-hit survivability against armor-piercing rifle bullets and high-speed fragments from IEDs. The new armor, TekShield, will provide armor-piercing, bullet, fragment/shrapnel and blast protection with tactical theater durability and maintainability at a very low cost. The armor-as-a-system was developed by Lockheed Martin as a solution to the coupled threat effects often encountered in today’s urban tactical environments, such as a bomb blast followed by a swarm of projectiles or armor-piercing sniper fire.
BATTLESPACE Editor Julian Nettlefold interviewed Dr David Hunn, Ph D., Chief Scientist, Director, Technical Staff, Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control.
“How did Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control get into the armor business?” I asked.
“Two reasons, one was that Lockheed Martin Corporation has developed a considerable expertise in the development of composites for space applications, we build the nose and space cap for the shuttle and have been developing applications for 20 to 30 years. The second reason is that as a missile company we have to build warheads to defeat the most advanced armors, thus we are continually testing our missiles to destroy armor, thus we turned this capability on its tail and became a developer of armor using the benefits we developed from lightweight and affordable composites, thus TekShield was born,” Dr David Hunn said.
“Composites are known to have a very high cost per square foot, how do you make TekShield affordable?” I asked
“We believe TekShield is a breakthrough in protective technology. TekShield armor promises to provide an entirely new level of vehicle and personal protection to our forces that could save lives. And it should prove much less expensive than current ceramic armors once in production,” David Hunn continued.
TekShield armor is made out of a Lockheed Martin-developed macro-composite material encased in shock-absorbing polymers with a metallic or composite strike face and spall plate. During developmental testing in 2006, TekShield successfully stopped four successive shots of 7.62mm armor-piercing bullets striking at high velocity within a four-inch diameter circle.
“In addition to its capabilities against IEDs and armor-piercing bullets, we plan to study TekShield’s ability to provide a level of protection against hand grenades, mines and other battlefield threats. In addition the armor contains an ability to dissipate blast, a key element in defeating IEDs,” Hunn added.
That was in 2006, when the world was being swamped with claims from every Tom, Dick and Harry to sell new types of armour. Had Lockheed struck gold?
In 2007 during AUSA, I asked David Hunn to find out if Lockheed Martin would be able to supply samples of TekShield to Peter Hobson of Hobson Industries in the U.K., who also owns the Dolphin Gun Company in partnership with Mik Maksimovic, an old friend and Bisley shooting colleague. Dolphin has a comprehensive indoor range to test materials under secure conditions. He said he that would investigate the possibility of samples being supplied for a test in the U.K.
Establishment of The Dolphin Gun Company
Peter had a long career in the Royal Navy including service on HMS Glasgow as I/C Weapons acting Deputy Weapons Officer (DWO). After the Falklands conflict, he again joined Captain Weapons Trials to upgrade the Sea Wolf system and then went on to commission the BMARC cannons being bought into Royal Navy service.
“There are two things which a sailor is terrified of, fire and blast. I learnt from a very early time in the Navy the technology required to combat these two threats. Having established our Land Rover business here, I was asked to build armoured Land Rovers for a number