Armor: October 8, 2004


Thousands of hummers and trucks in Iraq have been armored, to protect the troops from ambushes and roadside bombs. But the armor, whether metal or ceramic, adds about 3,000 pounds to a hummer, and more to a larger truck. This extra weight reduces acceleration, lowers fuel efficiency and increases wear and tear to vehicle components. So the army developed a new type of armor, composed of polyethylene and titanium, which weighs a quarter of what existing armor does, and provides the same degree of protection. The new armor was molded into parts for vulnerable hummer areas, like doors, seats, wheel wells and the underbody. These were installed in 75 hummers in Iraq. The new stuff worked, and 400 more kits are being prepared to expand the test. The kits, costing about $100,000 per vehicle, are 5-6 times as expensive as existing armor kits. But this gives the vehicle its speed back, and in combat, speed is life. Moreover, the lighter armor reduces wear and tear on the vehicles using it, getting back some of the additional cost. 


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