Title:
LIGHTWEIGHT ARMOR
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A lightweight armor system senses a shock wave from an explosive and deploys an inflatable barrier before the arrival of shrapnel from the explosion. The sensor is tuned to frequencies associated with shock waves generated by known Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). The shock waves travel at between 25,000 and 30,000 feet per second and arrives at a vehicle before the shrapnel generated by the IED. The sensor generates a signal which is amplified and provided to a plurality of initiators in a plurality of nested pods. The nested pods inflate rapidly and form a barrier over areas requiring protection from the shrapnel.



Inventors:
Thinn, Joseph (Costa Mesa, CA, US)
Conn, Mark C. (Tarzana, CA, US)
Owen, Frank S. (Mission Viejo, CA, US)
Application Number:
11/768168
Publication Date:
05/07/2009
Filing Date:
06/25/2007
Primary Class:
International Classes:
F41H5/007
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
TROY, DANIEL J
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Kenneth Green (Whittier, CA, US)
Claims:
I claim:

1. Lightweight armor comprising: a base for mounting the armor; deployable armor residing in the base before deployment and expanding vertically when deployed; a deployment circuit comprising: a shock wave sensor; and a power amplifier electrically connected to the sensor for amplifying a signal from the sensor; and a motive source for the deployable armor electrically connected to the power amplifier and providing.

2. The lightweight armor of claim 1, wherein the deployable armor comprises a plurality of vertically overlapping deployable pods.

3. The lightweight armor of claim 2, wherein the deployable armor comprises a plurality of nested pods prior to deployment.

4. The lightweight armor of claim 3, wherein the deployable armor comprises a plurality of nested pods and the motive source comprises individual independent gas sources.

5. The lightweight armor of claim 3, wherein the deployable armor comprises a plurality of nested pods comprising a pan with a base and sides and armor plates around the sides.

6. The lightweight armor of claim 5, wherein the nested pods are connected by ballistic grade cloth strips.

7. The lightweight armor of claim 6, wherein the armor plate are aramid fiber plates and the cloth strips are aramid fiber cloth strips.

8. Lightweight armor comprising: a base for mounting the armor; a plurality of nested pods residing in the base before deployment and expanding vertically when deployed; aramid fiber armor surrounding each pod aramid fiber cloth connecting and covering consecutive pods and limiting the vertical travel of the pods to provide an overlap of consecutive pods. a deployment circuit comprising: a shock wave sensor; and a power amplifier electrically connected to the sensor for amplifying a signal from the sensor; and a gas source for each pod for inflating the inflatable armor, the gas source electrically connected to the power amplifier.

Description:

The present application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 60/816,652 filed Jun. 26, 2006, which application is incorporated in it's entirely herein by reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to vehicle armor and in particular to lightweight inflatable armor.

Growing activities by terrorist groups have often included attacks against light vehicles using Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). Such IEDs have inflicted severe casualties and generated a need to increase the armor on vehicles such as the Hummvee widely in use by the military. Unfortunately, the additional armor has added significantly more weight than vehicle suspension was designed for resulting in accidents causing further injuries.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention addresses the above and other needs by providing a lightweight armor system which senses a shock wave from an explosive and deploys an inflatable barrier before the arrival of shrapnel from the explosion. The sensor is tuned to frequencies associated with shock waves generated by known Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). The shock waves travel at between 25,000 and 30,000 feet per second and arrives at a vehicle before the shrapnel generated by the IED. The sensor generates a signal which is amplified and provided to a plurality of initiators in a plurality of nested pods. The nested pods deploy rapidly and form a barrier over areas requiring protection from the shrapnel.

In accordance with one aspect of the invention, there is provided lightweight armor including a base, inflatable armor pod segments, an inflator circuit, and gas sources. The inflatable armor pod segments reside in the base before inflation. The inflator circuit includes a shock wave sensor and a power amplifier electrically connected to the sensor for amplifying a signal from the sensor. The gas source is electrically connected to the power amplifier and inflates the armor when a shock wave is sensed.

In accordance with another aspect of the invention, there is provided lightweight armor including a base for mounting the armor, a plurality of nested pods, and a deployment circuit. The plurality of nested pods resides in the base before deployment and expands vertically when deployed. A aramid fiber armor surrounds each pod and aramid fiber cloth connects and covers consecutive pods limiting the vertical travel of the pods to provide an overlap of consecutive pods. The deployment circuit includes a shock wave sensor and a power amplifier electrically connected to the sensor for amplifying a signal from the sensor. A gas source is electrically connected to the power amplifier and provides gas for each pod for inflating the inflatable armor.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWING

The above and other aspects, features and advantages of the present invention will be more apparent from the following more particular description thereof, presented in conjunction with the following drawings wherein:

FIG. 1A is a side view of a lightweight vehicle with inflatable armor units according to the present invention residing on the vehicle body.

FIG. 1B is a front view of the lightweight vehicle with the inflatable armor units residing on the vehicle body.

FIG. 1C is a top view of the lightweight vehicle with the inflatable armor units residing on the vehicle body.

FIG. 2A is a side view of the lightweight vehicle with the inflatable armor units according to the present invention residing on the vehicle body, with two of the inflatable armor units on the right side of the vehicle deployed.

FIG. 2B is a front view of the lightweight vehicle with the inflatable armor units residing on the vehicle body, with two of the inflatable armor units on the right side of the vehicle deployed.

FIG. 2C is a top view of the lightweight vehicle with the inflatable armor units residing on the vehicle body, with two of the inflatable armor units on the right side of the vehicle deployed.

FIG. 3A is a detailed side view of the deployed inflatable armor unit.

FIG. 3B is a detailed front view of the deployed inflatable armor unit.

FIG. 3C is a detailed top view of the deployed inflatable armor unit.

FIG. 4A is a cross-sectional view of the deployed inflatable armor unit, taken along line 4A-4A of FIG. 3B.

FIG. 4B is a cross-sectional view of the deployed inflatable armor unit, taken along line 4B-4B of FIG. 3C.

FIG. 5 is a detailed cross-sectional view of the deployed inflatable armor unit taken along line 4A-4A of FIG. 3B showing an inflator circuit and inflators.

FIG. 6 is a diagram of the inflator circuit.

FIG. 7A is a partial cross-sectional view a the pod assembly before activation.

FIG. 7B is a partial cross-sectional view of the pod assembly after activation.

FIG. 8 is a cross-sectional view of the bottom two layers before activation.

FIG. 9 is a pivoting mount for mounting the inflatable armor unit.

FIG. 10 is an end view of the inflatable armor unit.

FIG. 10A is a cross-sectional view of the inflatable armor unit taken along line 10A-10A of FIG. 10.

FIG. 11 is a time-line for deploying the inflatable armor unit.

Corresponding reference characters indicate corresponding components throughout the several views of the drawings.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The following description is of the best mode presently contemplated for carrying out the invention. This description is not to be taken in a limiting sense, but is made merely for the purpose of describing one or more preferred embodiments of the invention. The scope of the invention should be determined with reference to the claims.

A side view of a lightweight vehicle 10 with inflatable armor units 12, according to the present invention, residing on the right side of the vehicle body is shown in FIG. 1A, a front view of a lightweight vehicle 10 with the inflatable armor units 12 residing on the vehicle body is shown in FIG. 1B, and a top view of a lightweight vehicle 10 with the inflatable armor units 12 residing on the vehicle body is shown in FIG. 1C. The inflatable armor units 12 may be positioned under windows 14 to protect the windows from shrapnel generated by an Improvised Explosive Device (IED). The inflatable armor units 12 may also be positioned at other locations, for example, below or above the front grill to protect the radiator, above wheel wells to protect tires, and next to any location requiring protection from shrapnel, for example, to protect otherwise exposed military or civilian personnel.

A side view of a lightweight vehicle 10 with the inflatable armor units 12 residing on the vehicle 10 body, and the inflatable armor units 12 residing on the right side of the vehicle 10 deployed, is shown in FIG. 2A, a front view of the lightweight vehicle 10 with the inflatable armor units 12 deployed is shown in FIG. 2B, and a top view of a lightweight vehicle 10 with the inflatable armor units 12 deployed is shown in FIG. 2C. The inflatable armor units 12 comprise a base unit 13 and deployable pod segments 16. The pod segments 16 are shown deployed and covering windows 14 (see FIG. 1A) to protect vehicle occupants.

A detailed side view of the deployable inflatable armor unit 12 comprising pod segments 16 and base 13 are shown in FIG. 3A, a detailed front view of the deployable pod segments 16 and the base 13 are shown in FIG. 3B, and a detailed top view of the deployable pod segments 16 and the base 13 are shown in FIG. 3C.

A cross-sectional view of the deployable pod segments 16 and the base 13 taken along line 4A-4A of FIG. 3B is shown in FIG. 4A, and a cross-sectional view of the deployable pod segments 16 and the base 13 taken along line 4B-4B of FIG. 3C is shown in FIG. 4B. The pod segments 16 comprise a plurality of nested inflatable pods 16a, 16b, 16c, 16d, and 16e. Each pod 16a-16e has it's own gas source (comprising an initiator and an inflator) 18a, 18b, 18c, 18d, and 18e respectively. Each gas source 18a-18e translates away from the base 13 when the inflatable armor unit 12 is deployed, thereby reducing the deployment time. The inflatable armor unit 12 preferably inflates to a height H of approximately three feet. The inflatable armor unit 12 preferably comprises between five pod segments and ten pod segments, and the number of pod segments may be adapted to the present use. The number of pod segments required is based on achieving a minimum inflation time and advanced inflators may also serve to reduce the number of pod segments required. The minimum inflation time is determined based on the shock wave speed, sensor speed, and shrapnel speed.

A detailed cross-sectional view of the deployed inflatable armor unit 12 taken along line 4A-4A of FIG. 3B showing an inflator circuit 30 and the inflators, is shown in FIG. 5, and a diagram of the inflator circuit is shown in FIG. 6. The inflator circuit 30 comprises a sensor 20, a battery 22, a switch M, and a power transistor 24. The sensor 20 is connected to the transistor 24 by sensor wires 21. The battery 22 is connected to the transistor 24 by battery wires 23, with the switch M serially connected between the battery 22 and the transistor 24 in one of the battery wires 23. Inflator wires 25 connect the transistor 24 to the gas sources 18a-18e.

A partial cross-sectional view of the pod assembly before activation is shown in FIG. 7A and a partial cross-sectional view of the pod assembly after activation is shown in FIG. 7B. Each pod 16a-16e in the pod assembly 16 comprises an armor plates 52a-52e attached to pans 54a-54e respectively. The armor places 52a-52e are preferably made of aramid fibers and other ballistic materials. Aramid fibers or ballistic grade cloth strips 50a-50d connect consecutive and cover armor plates 52a-52e. Prior to activation, the cloth strips 50a-50d lay relaxed around the pod assembly exterior as seen in FIG. 7A, and after activation, the kevlar cloth strips are held in tension between the expanded pod layers. The aramid fiber cloth strips 50a-50d connecting and covering consecutive pods 16a-16e and limit the vertical travel of the pods 16a-16e to provide an overlap of consecutive pods 18a-16e. As seen in FIG. 7B, the pods 16a-16e deploy vertically and are vertically overlapped when deployed.

A cross-sectional view of the bottom two layers before activation is shown in FIG. 8. Gas generating materials 56a and 56b reside in the pans 54a and 54b respectively. Three or more packings of the gas generating material may reside in each pan as needed, depending on the overall size of the pod assembly 16. The pans 54a-54e preferably have channeled bottoms for added strength as needed.

A pivoting mount 40 for mounting the base 13 is shown in FIG. 9. The pivoting mount 40 allows the base 13 to be adjusted to provide a maximum coverage for, for example, a window 14. The base 13 is pivotally connected to the pivoting mount 40 at a pivot 42 and indexed by index points 44.

An end view of the inflatable armor unit 12 is shown in FIG. 10 and a cross-sectional view of the inflatable armor unit 12 taken along line 10A-10A of FIG. 10 is shown in FIG. 1A. The inflatable armor unit 12 includes an exterior skin 60 covering the top of the base 12 and reaching down over the sides of the base 13. A nylon scrim 62 resides under the cover skin 60 and extends down inside the base 60. A glass mat 64 resides under the scrim 62 and over the pod assembly 16. The exterior skin 60 may be notched lengthwise to facilitate tearing when the pods are deployed. Foam filling 66 may be provided to fill in a gap between the pods and the base 13.

The bags 16a-16e are preferably made from an aramid fiber, a ballistic grade armor felt, or a ballistic grade fabric such as Kevlar fabric made by Dupont. An example of a suitable sensor 20 is a model 113A22 sensor made by PCB Piezotronics in Depew, N.Y. An example of a suitable inflator is a model DH-6 Infator made by ARC Automotive, Inc. In Knoxville, Tenn.

A time-line for deploying the inflatable armor 16 is described in FIG. 11. The IED is detonated at time 0.0. A shock wave travels away from the IED at between 25,000 and 30,000 feet per second. The shock wave reaches the vehicle 10, approximately 10 feet from the IED, in approximately 0.4 ms. The sensor 20 senses the shock wave in approximately 0.1 ms after the shock wave has reached the vehicle 10 (total time 0.5 ms). The gas sources 18a-18e fire in 0.6 ms after receiving the sensor signal (total time 1.1 ms). The pod segments 16a-16e inflate in approximately 1.3 ms (total time 2.4 ms). The shrapnel travels at approximately 1000 feet per second and thus reaches the vehicle 10 in approximately 10 ms in this example.

While the present invention is herein described using deployable pods, an alternative embodiment may replace the pods with air bags.

While the invention herein disclosed has been described by means of specific embodiments and applications thereof, numerous modifications and variations could be made thereto by those skilled in the art without departing from the scope of the invention set forth in the claims.