In a facility outside of Newport, specialized armour to protect future British troops is under construction. This is due in large part to a joint investment by Kennametal Manufacturing and the MOD’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) funding.

Prof. Peter Brown of the DSTL clarified that the use of ceramic material in body armour and fortified vehicles has been around for a very long time. In the past, the British armed forces have purchased ceramic armour from commercial sources. More recently, the DSTL has been undergoing research to improve the characteristics of armour through new amalgamations.Recently, a breakthrough has been reached at the £2m DSTL facility.An advanced spark plasma sinter furnace produced the beginning trial of new armour, called 95-5.

It was the front line duties in Afghanistan and Iraq that introduced the need to develop new armour.Active soldiers were being faced with the threat of ever more powerful roadside bombs or IEDs.

“The challenge we face is getting tougher,” Prof Brown said.“There’s always a need to protect our forces. I can’t recall a time when the threat that we faced has reduced.”

Containing a front and back panel in a soldier’s integrated armor system, a single plate of ceramic armour weighs 2kg. The total weight of both plates and additional supplies has been taxing on the soldiers, especially when they have to navigate with everything through very hot climates.

“The business model is export, export, export to maintain the capacity the MOD wants,” Brown states. Competition for British ceramic armor production is worldwide, but the plant outside of Newport is one of the most prominent facilities in all of Europe. The tests that have been conducted by Kennametal’s armour personnel have hailed some positive results according to Prof. Brown. There’s no way to go but up from here.