Honeywell, a leader in advanced materials and process technologies, has announced that its lightweight Spectra Shield ballistic material will be used to improve armor protection on U.S. Army helicopters. The Protective Group, Inc. (TPG), a leading developer and integrator of lightweight composite armor for military aircraft, is incorporating Spectra Shield material into armor upgrades for U.S. Army UH-60 Black Hawk and CH-47 Chinook helicopters.
“Spectra Shield material provides an ideal combination of proven ballistic performance and light weight, which is critical for applications ranging from body armor to aircraft,” said Roy Ash, global marketing manager for Honeywell’s Advanced Fibers and Composites business. “Armor that uses Spectra Shield material provides a superior level of protection for helicopters and the personnel inside, while the material’s lighter weight will allow the aircraft to carry heavier loads and save fuel.”
The new TPG solution is expected to reduce armor weight on the Black Hawk and Chinook helicopters by as much as 40 percent compared with the currently fielded system. TPG expects to upgrade armor on approximately 200 Chinook helicopters over the next four years under a contract from the U.S. Army, and is also working to meet the needs of the Black Hawk community.
“Honeywell’s materials and expertise enabled us to deliver design solutions that meet the demanding specifications set out by the U.S. Army,” said Michael Breslin, executive vice president of business development for TPG. “The proven performance of Spectra Shield materials in military applications made it a superior choice for this integrated solution.”
Spectra Shield is a composite material made with Spectra fiber, an ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene fiber that, pound for pound, is 15 times stronger than steel, yet light enough to float. Honeywell’s patented Shield technology lays parallel strands of synthetic fiber side by side and holds them in place with a resin system. Layers of the material are then cross-plied at right angles and fused into a composite structure under heat and pressure.
Spectra fiber is also used in a wide variety of industrial and recreational applications, including rope and lifting slings, mooring lines, fishing line, sail cloth and security netting. The material has been making headlines for helping to reduce the weight of other defence products in recent weeks with Honeywell announcing how Spectra had helped to minimize weight of the British Foxhound vehicle.