FIGURE 6-2 New paradigm for armor development. The new design path for armor provides enhanced and closer coupling of the materials research and development community and the modeling and simulation community, resulting in significantly reduced time for development of new armor. This path connects the armor design process to the materials research and development community through canonical models to deal with the restricted information problem. The elements of armor system design are not themselves new, but the emphasis shifts from design-make-shoot-redesign to rapid simulation iterations, and from designing with off-the-shelf-materials to designing that explores materials for their protective properties. The feedback loop between armor system design and material design contrasts with current practice, in which a one-way flow puts new materials on the shelf to be tried in the make-shoot-look process.

systems in operational use today are the product of years of heuristic-based advances. Development of the protection materials used in these systems is coupled only loosely to armor system design, with the coupling taking the form of inferred desired properties. The current paradigm of material and system development can be characterized as a design-make-test-redesign-repeat … iterative loop. The time and expense involved in such an approach limit the number of optimization iterations and slow the advance of new material systems that could provide the needed protection with reduced areal density.

The current paradigm and the research programs and organizations that support it are not sufficient to accelerate advances in lightweight protection materials. New research initiatives, organizational structures, and implementation approaches will be needed to increase the rate of progress.

The committee concludes that the ability to design and optimize protection material systems can be accelerated and made more cost effective by operating in a new paradigm for lightweight protection material development (Figure 6-2). In this new paradigm, the current armor system design practice is replaced by rapid iterations of modeling and simulation, with ballistic evaluation used selectively to verify satisfactory designs. Strong coupling with the materials research and development community is accomplished through canonical models that translate armor system requirements (which are often classified) into characterizations, microstructures, behaviors, and deformation mechanisms that an open research community can use. The principal objective of this new paradigm is to enable the design of superior materials and to accelerate their implementation in armor systems. The new paradigm will build on the multidisciplinary collaboration concepts and lessons from other applications documented in Integrated Computational Materials Engineering (ICME),1 which cites many advances and several examples of successful implementation. It advocates pushing the large body


1NRC. 2008. Integrated Computational Systems Engineering: A Transformational Discipline for Improved Competitiveness and National Security. Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press.

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