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By Julian Nettlefold, Editor, BATTLESPACE

Hobson Industries showed its specialist armouring solutions on Stand No. 1732 to BATTLESPACE Editor, Julian Nettlefold. Hobson Industries used its extensive knowledge in building vehicles for the RUC in Northern Ireland in particular to develop new armouring solutions for lightweight military vehicles.

Hobson Industries Ltd, established in 1987, provides Vehicle Through Life Support solutions with Logistic, Armouring, Engineering, Asset Management, and Vehicle build and Homologation workshops. The company employs 48 people at a plant located at Donington on Bain, Lincolnshire, UK.

“Armouring solutions follow the threat,” Peter Hobson, Managing Director of Hobson Industries, told the Editor. “The vehicles initially supplied into the Iraq and Afghan theatres, including the SNATCH 2 Land Rover were developed from the threat assessments measured during the Northern Ireland conflict. Thus, when the IED threat became apparent and the level of explosive used, the MoD initiated a Programme to develop new defences to these threats. One area of particular importance, given the high usage of mines, was to develop new blast protection as all the vehicles in theatre had Ballistic Protection up to Stanag 1 Levels in some cases but no blast protection. Thus we have been developing systems with such companies as Aigis to develop both up-armoured ballistic protection with the use of multiple-layered armour in composite and metal form but also new technology spall liners such as our Armadillo solution.”

The Hobson Ranger vehicle, developed for use in Iraq and Afghanistan from an MoD Requirement, has a foam filled, blast resistant false wall on the side of the vehicle that absorbs the first hit from an RPG thus preventing any fragmentation or shock in the interior. The vehicle is fitted with a full fire protection package and, with its improvised weapon and RPG trigger plates, it gives significant protection against most hand held terrorist weapon threats. A transparent armoured glass system has been developed in conjunction with Romag to enhance repairability replacement in the field. The vehicle’s modular construction ensures that all transparent armour, steel armour, Macrolon shrouds and steel fixtures are completely interchangeable between vehicles and a full support package is available to meet operational requirements worldwide.

“In developing the Ranger we researched new materials and these have been embodied within the protection package to reduce weight and improve hit survivability,” Peter Hobson continued. “The secret of providing an armour solution is not to limit the mobility and visibility of the vehicle as this will limit its operational effectiveness and prevent cross-country ability to avoid roadside bombs in particular.”

Hobson’s Armadillo electrometric polymer spall liner provides an energy resistant coating which is able to withstand explosions up to 20 times greater than steel with very little addition of weight to the vehicle. The coating can be sprayed on and to this end Hobsons is developing a portable spray unit which enables vehicles to be upgraded in situ and in theatre.

Hobsons has also developed a new bolt-on appliqué armour kit to enhance the protection on existing standard Land Rovers used for non-combatant usage. This appliqué kit has produced considerable interest from the MoD and other armed forces.

“In an initial meeting with Aigis to discuss their blast technology, I saw an immediate benefit in the Aigis Mineshield product in that it gave Hobsons a product that was lightweight and cost effective for installation on our lightweight vehicles. For the first time we believe there is a cost-effective solution for ballistic and blast protection to be combined on lightweight 4×4 vehicles.” Hobson said.

Thus the two companies have developed Blast Kits for fitment to a range of vehicl

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