Composites in Combat: Composite Technology for Military Applications
The men and women of our armed forces are coming into a new generation of warfare. The days of conventional warfare are gone, and our soldiers are learning to fight in new ways to combat new threats.
As the threats to our soldiers change, we have to change the way we equip them as well. The equipment of the past was steel, which made it heavy and hard to transport. The equipment of the future will use composite material, which is lighter, more flexible, and more durable.
In this article, we’ll go over composites uses in military applications and why they are so important the men and women of our armed forces.
When our soldiers are fighting on the front line, they deserve the best protection they can get. And with exciting advances in composites, the military is moving away from using metal in their protective gear.
The military is starting to use composites in one of the most important pieces of protective equipment: the combat helmet. Combat helmets of the past used metal and other alloys, which tend to buckle and deform.
Researchers are developing combat helmets made of polyethylene fiber-reinforced composites. They put super-strong fibers into the composite material to reinforce it. The flexibility of polyethylene ensures that helmets hit with large debris won’t buckle, crack, or deform.
These fibers in the helmet are fifteen times harder to break than steel but are flexible like traditional fabrics. This strength and flexibility ensures the helmet will absorb the energy and spread it out, rather than caving in or cracking.
The military is also beginning to use composite materials in their vehicles. Heavy steel vehicles are difficult to maneuver in combat, leaving our soldiers vulnerable to gunfire. With lighter composite materials, these vehicles are better protected and easier to maneuver. This allows our soldiers to escape dangerous situations fast and move around easier.
Composite materials are also better at absorbing shock and energy than metal. When vehicles get hit by IED blasts or gunfire, they will absorb more energy and offer more protection to our soldiers.
They are even using composite material to develop lighter, more breathable clothing for our soldiers. This material is still in the testing phase, but it also promises to protect soldiers from chemical and biological attacks as well.
Planes and Helicopters
In aviation, there is one thing that affects every type of plane, no matter how powerful it is: weight. The weight of a plane determines how far it can go, how much cargo it can hold, and how fast it can go.
With the development of high-quality composites, we can build lighter, faster, stronger planes and helicopters. The Air Force has used things like aluminum and titanium alloys to build its fleet, which are much lighter than steel. But new high-temperature composites that are in development will reduce the weight of parts by over 40%, which saves money on fuel and allows the plane to go farther.
The military is also looking at using composites to protect our airmen during crashes. Metal alloys are flexible but have a tendency to tear and warp during collisions.
Composite materials are lighter, more flexible, and less prone to tearing and shearing. This means they will absorb more energy during the crash and keep the plane intact, protecting the pilots and crew inside.
These lightweight composites are also used to build new, experimental planes and drones. Recently the United States military tested a new type of drone which uses lightweight composites. These drones are small, about the size of a crow, and operate in large swarms.
They have to be light enough to make fast, small adjustments to not hit other drones in the swarm. Composites make this possible. The ability to make smaller, lighter planes opens up a world of possibilities for our military and other industries.
While guns are usually made out of steel, the military is starting to use composites in their weaponry as well.
An exciting new piece of composite technology is the “Third Arm.” The Third Arm is a four-pound mechanical device, attached to the soldier’s back hip. The device distributes the weight of weapons and gear around the abdomen and chest, making it easier to carry their equipment.
It promises to reduce weapon recoil, make gear easier to carry and give soldiers a free hand to operate with, even while shooting.
The military is also looking into using composites in the weapon systems they use. Not only are steel components heavy, but they are also more expensive to produce and maintain. Engineers are also using composite materials to build parts of weapons that experience high heat. High heat is one of the main causes of weapon failure, so it is an important design issue to fix.
They are also using composite materials to build parts of the weapon that need more flexibility or need to keep their rigidity. This makes the weapons lightweight, durable, and less prone to issues like warping or wearing.
Engineers are also using composites in weaponry to reduce cracking and shearing. Usually, a lighter weapon means more recoil since the round has less weight to push against when it goes off. This would mean more stress on the barrel and other parts of the gun.
Engineers have discovered that using composite material to support the barrel reduces incidents of cracking and tearing. This is due to an effect called “extension-twist coupling”, which causes the barrel to twist during recoil and reduces the strain on the barrel.
Composites Are the Future
With the new advancements in composites, it is clear that composites will get used in every part of combat in the future. SMI can fulfill the need for these high-quality composites for our soldiers in the field.
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