Textron Defense Systems developing net to protect armored vehicles from rocket-propelled grenades

BY John Keller

WILMINGTON, Mass.—Engineers at Textron Defense Systems in Wilmington, Mass., are developing an air-bag-like protective net for armored combat vehicles to protect vehicles and crews from rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs), which have been favorite weapons of insurgents and terrorists on hot spots around the world like Iraq, Afghanistan, and Somalia.

The Textron Defense Systems TRAPSNet RPG countermeasure is for any wheeled or tracked military vehicle. It uses sensors that identify incoming RPGs, and deploys a net integrated into a standard air bag to defeat the RPG, while preventing vehicle penetration, Textron officials say.

 
Textron is developing netting to protect armored combat vehicles from rocket-propelled grenades.

The TRAPSNet vehicle protection system is an enhancement of the Textron Tactical Rocket-Propelled Grenade Airbag Protection System (TRAPS), and was tested in July under supervision of U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) officials in Arlington, Va.

The tests, which were at the New Mexico Tech Energetic Materials Research and Testing Center in Socorro, N.M., included dozens of RPG shots at various angles and ranges, Textron officials reveal.

Textron, teamed with BRTRC of Fairfax, Va., is proposing TRAPS to the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development, and Engineering Center (TARDEC) for the TARDEC Rocket-Propelled Grenade (RPG) Active Protection, or RAP, program. BRTRC is prime contractor on TARDEC's omnibus contracting vehicle.

The TRAPSNet countermeasure can defend against several different RPG hits, and does not substantially widen the vehicle, according to Textron officials. This development could make substantial improvements in protecting combat vehicles from terrorist and insurgent attack. The system only deploys when its sensors detect an incoming RPG, so it does not impede visibility for the vehicle driver and crew.

RPGs also are a demonstrated threat to military helicopters, as well as land vehicles, and Textron officials say they are considering how they might develop a version of TRAPSNet for helicopters.

Critics, however, say a similar RPG protective system for helicopters might be too expensive and could adversely alter the aircraft's flight profile.

FOR MORE INFORMATION visit Textron Defense Systems online at www.textrondefense.com, DARPA at www.darpa.mil, and the New Mexico Tech Energetic Materials Research and Testing Center at www.emrtc.nmt.edu.

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