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Development and testing of a flexible ballistic neck protection

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Author: Roebroeks, G.H.J.J. · Rensink, P.
Publisher: TNO
Source:PASS 2016 - Personal Armour Systems Symposium, Marine Establishment Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands, 19-23 september 2016, 10 p.
Identifier: 572451
Keywords: Safety · Defence Research · Defence, Safety and Security · Observation, Weapon & Protection Systems · EBP - Explosions, Ballistics & Protection · TS - Technical Sciences


Sufficient ballistic protection of the neck area would significantly reduce the vulnerability of an infantry soldier. So far this protection is offered by extensions on the ballistic vest or combat helmet. However, the requirements for head agility and the various body to head positions combined with the design of current body armour solutions, generally result in an unprotected in-between gap. The combination of critical body functions in the neck area, causing casualties in case of fragment penetrations, has motivated TNO to investigate options for ballistic protection of this area. In this paper the vulnerability of the neck area is briefly addressed. Casualty data of infantry operations and model analysis show the potential value of sufficient ballistic protection of this part of the body. A range of options has been considered, finally resulting in a closed 3-dimensional geometry that maintains its ballistic function, independently of head position and angle of the ballistic threat. In this so called flexible ballistic collar, aramid weave layers were combined with a rubber support structure. By using the possibility of the two main fibre orientations of these weaves to shear to non-perpendicular orientations, the product can deform to different heights (in shoulder to head direction) at minimum force. With this deformation capability, the gap between combat helmet and ballistic vest is closed at any conceivable head position. A range of prototypes was manufactured and tested on fragment penetration resistance. Because of the geometry of the flexible ballistic collar, combining a wide range of angle of impact effects over the contour of the collar, standard V50 testing was not possible. An alternative method has been developed and used, providing a clear limit velocity for 1.1 gram Fragment Simulating Projectiles (FSPs). Operational use of the ballistic collar, results in multiple collar compressions while following head to body movements. The product’s ballistic performance has been determined also after 10.000 of these simulated deformations of the product. It showed that the products ballistic performance was not significantly affected by these repeated deformations.