Tactical Tailor

BAE Releases Liquid Body Armor Video

BAE Systems (and others) has been working on liquid body armor for some time. It’s a very promising, low weight ballistic solution. They are using a shear thickening fluid which hardens as force is violently applied against it. You can make some up with cornstarch and water. Pour it out on a flat surface and then hit it with a hammer.

Unfortunately, you aren’t going to get much out of this video other than seeing body armor do what it is designed to do; act like a catchers mitt.

Part 1 shows 10 layers liquid armor in a durable casing
Part 2 shows 31 layers of untreated Kevlar

When I was in industry and we were working on the Explosive Formed Penetrator threat, one of my team’s engineers suggested using a non-newtonian fluid. While the technology shows promise, we decided that for our application, the material itself might compromise its ability to work when needed. Based on the magnitude of teh threat we’d need to go with a true shear thickening fluid. Form our standpoint, the issue was ensuring that the material would be in place when needed. A combat vehicle such as an MRAP is exposed to a wide variety of threats and environmental hazards any one of which might compromise the armor’s integrity and result in the fluid leaking from its section in the armor array. Instead we came up with another way to dissipate the energy of an EFP.

Body armor will present its own set of challenges in maintaining the proper amount of ballistic material in the proper place on the panel. Gravity tends to work against you with liquids in non-rigid containers, even in the case of thickened fluids or in this case coatings. Additionally, the fluid coating might dry out over time. What BAE has done to mitigate this effect is to use their “fluid” to treat woven Kevlar. Not only does this give the coating “body” but gives the material even more surface area to spread the energy of a ballistic threat across.

BAE testing has indicated that they can maintain ballistic protection at a 45% reduction in the thickness of the armor which results in increased mobility.


2 Responses to “BAE Releases Liquid Body Armor Video”

  1. Very interested in seeing more documentation on the armor, testing, and longevity of the materials, as well as how this will affect NIJ’s efforts for certification.

  2. From what I understand we are a few years away from seeing this type of armour being used. Quite a few issues to be sorted before it will be issued and no-one has even mentioned cost!