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Memory metals over vehicles blast protection

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Suspension system is made from a titanium alloy often used in bendable spectacles which enables the suspension to “bounce back” into shape after an impact

BAE Systems’ engineers in Telford, Shropshire, have developed a bendable suspension system for armoured vehicles using so-called “memory metals”, which they say can be equipped within 10 years to improve protection from explosive blasts.

The suspension system is made from a type of titanium alloy often used in bendable spectacles and enables the suspension to “bounce back” into shape after an impact. In practice, this would allow the vehicle to continue its mission.

Although the hulls of armoured vehicles are protected, mines or improvised explosive devices can cause damage to the suspension. This can render the vehicle immobile, so that it has to be rescued by another vehicle.

The use of memory metal also means the spring can be removed entirely from the suspension – strengthening and simplifying the system further.

BAE Systems said that a series of increasingly powerful explosive tests at its site in Telford, Shropshire have shown a prototype’s “significant resilience” and “highly robust construction”.

Marcus Potter, head of mobility at BAE Systems Land (UK), said: “This could prove a real game-changer for combat vehicles. Being able to adapt to changing situations is hugely important to maintaining effectiveness, and this application of bendable titanium could give armed forces the required flexibility – and survivability – to complete tasks in challenging areas.”

The team is further developing the memory metal suspension for full-size combat vehicles with the aim of the alloy being used on military operations within the next 10 years.

The memory metal nickel-titanium alloy was first developed by the US Naval Ordnance Laboratory in the 1960s and commercialised under the name Nitinol, but BAE Systems believes this is the first time it has been used to build an entire suspension system.

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