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New ultralight modular ballistic protection solution for infantrymen


R + D

AITEX launches its VESTLIFE project, lasting 36 months, to develop a lighter, modular integrated ballistic protection system of clothing incorporating an NBCR (Nuclear, Biological, Chemical and Radiation) detection system.

The aim of protective clothing is to protect soldiers against ballistic hazards. The demands placed on the clothing are strict yet contradictory, requiring a combination of optimum protection and comfort. While heavier, denser and more impermeable fabrics enhance protection, they are uncomfortable. This makes the design and development of efficient protective clothing problematic. Finding a balance between physiological loading and protection is vital when creating mission-specific clothing. The requirements of the system, after optimisation, will lead to mission-specific requirements for the sub systems and for the materials used in the clothing. Commercially available ballistic systems have several disadvantages, principally weight, but others include reduced flexibility and poor design for body shape and type, with a focus on protection based solely on kinetic energy hazards or limitations in the use of NBCR agents.

The goal of VESTLIFE is to develop a new lightweight, modular ballistic protection system with integral NBCR detection capability. The clothing will provide a wider range of cover while maintaining comfort as well as lighter ballistic panels, ensuring optimum balance between protection and comfort by adapting the protective surface to mission-specific requirements. The project aims to develop different types of advanced, high-performance armour plating. The system will provide different levels of protection using flexible panels for low and mid-level ballistic threats and rigid panels for high-level threats. Discovering the optimum architecture for the materials covering the body requires a balance to be struck between the degree of comfort experienced and the level of protection provided. The architecture will be designed using specially-developed software which will consider each factor and the results will then be validated.

To achieve this, 9 work packages have been established, 7 of which are technical defining the protection required of the system, develop the modelling and design of the solution, develop new textile structures, polymer and ceramic ballistic protection composite materials, integration of materials and NBCR systems and the validation of the resulting solutions. Crossover actions, such as project management, exploitation and dissemination will be included in the remaining 2 work packages throughout the lifetime of the project.

The project has received funding from the EU’s Preparatory Action on Defence Research through grant agreement No 800876 [VESTLIFE]

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