Health & Safety

August 1, 2014

Natick takes shelter ballistic protection to the ‘X’ level

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Jane Benson

Researchers at the Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center, with help from the Advanced Structures and Composites Center at the University of Maine, have developed the Improved Modular Ballistic Protection System. MBPS-X protects against threats that are most likely to hit a base camp and provides increased armor protection compared with the existing system.

NATICK, Mass. — Sometimes going ballistic is a good thing, particularly if it means working to enhance ballistic protection where Soldiers live, work, sleep and eat.

Researchers at the Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center, or NSRDEC, with help from the Advanced Structures and Composites Center at the University of Maine, have developed the Improved Modular Ballistic Protection System, or MBPS-X.

Compared with the Modular Ballistic Protection System, or MBPS, the MBPS-X offers increased armor protection. The MPBS-X protects against threats that are most likely to hit a base camp, and it provides significantly more protection from direct fire and munitions fragments than the MBPS.

“The MBPS has been perfected with the MBPS X, which has a lot more protection,” said Karen Horak, lead program engineer, Collective Protection Systems Team, Expeditionary Basing and Collective Protection Directorate at NSRDEC.

In addition to improved protection, the MBPS-X has all the benefits of MBPS, which was also developed by NSRDEC and the University of Maine. Both systems provide protection for personnel and equipment in expeditionary base camps. Both systems include highly mobile, re-deployable, reusable, quickly erectable, lightweight panels that provide ballistic protection to Soldiers in a variety of shelters.

Neither system requires any special tools to assemble.

“We wanted to look into what can we do to protect the individual tents, as opposed to just the perimeters,” Horak said. “There are sandbags, but sandbags take a lot of time and a lot of manpower to put up. And sometimes [sandbags] don’t get put up in certain scenarios or immediately upon arrival — or if they think they are going to be moving quickly. So the challenge is, what can you put up quickly?

“Our goal is to give them the equivalent protection of their body armor the first day they are there,” Horak added. “So, think about it: You get in your tent, and you take off your body armor, you take off your helmet and you want to go to sleep. We want to give them something that, from the very first night, they can wrap around their tent and feel that they have some decent protection. If you’ve slept through the night and you felt safe, you’re going to be able to function better.”

The system consists of a panel with a strut behind it that can be strapped to other panels. The panels do not attach to the shelter, so the system can be used with any type of shelter to protect personnel and equipment.

“We test and test and test,” Horak said. “We want the Soldiers to know what they have and be confident in what they have.”

The technology has also been incorporated into other types of buildings.

“The MBPS technology has been leveraged to protect embassies and consulates around the world,” Horak said.

The MBPS-X is expected to be fielded in 2016, and the MBPS technology has also been incorporated into the development of the elaborate Overhead Protection System for the roofs of shelters.

“It’s a rewarding program to work on because we’re protecting Soldiers in places where sometimes they don’t have protection,” Horak said. “We can feel good about the fact that if we can give them peace of mind on day one of their deployment, it gives them comfort and it makes them better Soldiers.”




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