Low-Cost Titanium Armour for Land Based Defence Platforms

Titanium alloys are high strength and low density, making them an ideal material for ballistic protection. Due to prohibitive costs of extraction and processing, their use in this sector has been restricted to weight-critical applications

Generated image of a tank
Generated image of a tank

The Affordable Titanium to Useable Defence Equipment (ATiTUDE) programme is a £3.5m Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) funded project, led by Rheinmetall BAE Systems Land (RBSL). Other members that make up the consortium are the University of Sheffield (UoS), BAE Systems, MBDA, Transition International and the Advanced Forming Research Centre (AFRC). The aim of the project is to develop a processing route for low-cost titanium for exploitation across the land, maritime and air defence sectors.

By using the FCT HP D 250 (FAST/SPS) followed by the FENN Hot Rolling Mill in Phase 2 (both accessed at the Royce Discovery Centre at the University of Sheffield) it has been possible to create armour plate for ballistic protection in land-based applications.

The majority of land-based military vehicles employ Rolled Homogeneous Armour (RHA) or high hardness steel (HHS) armours, which are comparatively cheaper than titanium. However, titanium alloys have a high mass efficiency in comparison to RHA and can provide a 30–40% weight reduction whilst maintaining survivability.

The development of a powder metallurgy processing route for titanium alloys has the potential to eliminate many thermo-mechanical processing steps, especially if this can be combined with a low-cost feedstock such as oversized Ti powder or machining swarf.

Ballistic testing of Ti-64 armour plate produced from both low-cost powder and swarf via the FAST process, has demonstrated that it meets the MIL-Spec V50 ballistic limit requirement against a given threat. This work presents an exciting opportunity for the development of a sustainable closed-loop production route for low cost armour in a range of new applications.

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