SLAD advances survivability in under-body blast attacks
January 14, 2013
"The IED is the weapon of choice for threat networks because they are cheap, made from readily available off-the-shelf components, easy to construct, lethal, and accurate," said Army Lt. Gen. Michael D. Barbero, director of the Joint IED Defeat Organization, in his September 2012 testimony to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense.
Because of the prevalent use of IEDs on today's battlefield, U.S. forces are working to adapt equipment to offer better protection and survivability for Soldiers.
The research, test and evaluation (T&E), medical, and design communities are working together to make timely adaptations to platforms, armor, and personnel-protective equipment to combat the effects of under-body blast (UBB). Because of the size and extent of the effort, program managers (PMs) within and across these communities must work together.
The U.S. Army Research Laboratory's (ARL ) Survivability/Lethality Analysis Directorate (SLAD) is a leader and participant in major UBB programs across the Department of Defense (DoD), but focuses significant effort on under-body blast methodology (UBM) for T&E. Other programs involved in the UBB effort include: the HSAIIC Blast Institute, led by ARL Weapons and Materials Research Directorate; Near-Term Under Body Blast (N-T UBB), led by the Army's Tank, Automotive Research, Development, and Engineering Center; and the Warrior Injury Assessment Manikin (WIAMan) Program, led by the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisitions Logistics and Technology.
A SLAD focus is the development of fast-running models that will meet the needs of the T&E community. A key part of this effort at SLAD is the program called UBM for T&E. The PM for the program, Pat Horton, explained, "We are leveraging assets across the DoD community to ensure that our efforts are coordinated in order to get the best solution for the evaluation community. Along with SLAD's UBM program, PMs and their teams from the Blast Institute, N-T UBB and WIAMan programs are working closely together to share methods, test data, and provide lessons learned."
SLAD regularly applies its current modeling and simulation tools to ongoing live-fire programs and analyses of alternatives. Craig Barker, a team leader in the Engineering Analysis Branch, explained that regular application of the UBM tools reduces long-term program risk and builds confidence in the models. The development of accurate models is vital because live-fire tests are extremely costly. Models can be used to analyze an extensive set of scenarios and variables to simulate hundreds of tests.
Achieving this goal requires physics-based finite element (FE) models, but current models take too long to setup and run. Barker explained how the physics-based tools may be used despite these current limitations.
"We intend to use results from physics-based FE models as training data to develop fast-running meta-models that are required for efficient analysis."
Barker also explained that all models used for formal live-fire evaluations have to be accredited by the Army Evaluation Center. To build a foundation for accreditation, members of SLAD's UBM team are working to analyze data from subscale and full-scale experiments to use for model validation. They use the data from these controlled experiments to fill in the gaps and build further confidence in the models.
One place where SLAD has directly applied the knowledge gained from UBB testing and modeling is the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) program. The JLTV family of vehicles (FoV) is intended to fill capability gaps identified by the combat developer's functional-needs analysis.
These capability gaps are defined as:
1 - inability to move mounted infantry/combat arms forces via ground
2 - inability to move mounted combat support (CS) forces via ground
3 - inability to move mounted combat service support (CSS) forces via ground
4 - inability to move light infantry (airborne/air assault) via ground
5 - inability to move long-range reconnaissance (undetected) via ground
JLTV will be designed and developed as an FoV to fill these gaps and move from a threat-based, Cold-War-garrison force focused on containment, to a capabilities-based, expeditionary force focused on mobility, flexibility, responsiveness, survivability, and agility. SLAD is analyzing the designs of the three vendors in order to advise decision makers during the down select process.
By leveraging testing opportunities and resources, and by developing models, SLAD's Engineering Analysis Branch works closely with other DoD agencies involved in UBB analysis in order to improve the survivability of the Soldier.
-From the December 2012 edition of the SLAD Bulletin