A body armor “sensing” if it can still provide the needed protection? At the DSEi 2017 last September Rheinmetall introduced a new solution for its VERHA (Versatile Rheinmetall Armor) product family. Rheinmetall’s forward-looking Sensing Armor technology enables maintenance and inspection of hard ballistic bullet-resistant vest inserts. An integrated sensor system embedded in the insert makes it possible to check for damage quickly and easily even when inserts appear to be intact without the need for expensive X-rays.
Ballistic inserts raise the protection of body armor level against heavy caliber ammunition (for example NIJ level III and IV and SK4), and in order to protect from rifle fire Rheinmetall has partnered with special equipment maker Linderhof-Taktik to develop bullet-resistant plate carriers.
But the problem with plates and other similar ballistic inserts is that they are somewhat fragile, and being constantly abused in the field they can get damaged, especially if they are dropped on a hard surface.
These damages, often invisible to the naked eye, can seriously affect their protective qualities.
The Sensing Armor offers the ability to check ceramic or metal plates used in plate carriers and vests by Military/LE/Security forces. Precise technical information is still classified, but a lightweight (around 60 g) mesh of thin wires on the plate`s surface senses if there are cracks or other damages/imperfections. A cover wraps and protects the entire plate. A water- and dust-proof port placed at the edge of the armor plate allows to connect it to an electronic checking system.
A very simple testing device uses different color lights to inform the operator of the plate`s condition using a green light (if plate is ok) or a yellow one if the armor is damaged and should be replaced. The system stores various other data: armor serial number, testing procedure details and logistical data.
According to the manufacturer, if shot the sensors also allow the operator to check its condition in real time and help to locate the direction and location of the hit.
Sensing Armor is fully scalable and can be used not only for personal ballistic protection but also on vehicles, to check damage after bullets or shrapnel hits.