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Morgan’s Bloodhound composite armour panels exceed expectations under testing

News International-French

30 Mar 2015

As the design and build of the Bloodhound Supersonic Car (SSC) moves into the final few months before heading to South Africa to challenge the world land speed record, Morgan Advanced Materials has conducted specialist ballistic testing on the panels it has provided to form part of the driver cockpit.

Morgan’s lightweight composite armour panels are fitted to the carbon fibre ‘monocoque’ – a rigid cell in which driver Andy Green will sit – shaped to provide optimum aerodynamics as well as efficient air intake. Located at both port and starboard, Morgan’s panels will protect the driver as, at high speed, any shale or debris from the ground or solid aluminium wheels could become a deadly projectile.

The Bloodhound Team travelled to Morgan’s Composites & Defence Systems Global Technical Centre in Coventry to validate the ballistic testing, which took the form of a 20mm fragment simulating projectile (FSP) representative of the largest section of wheel that could potentially detach during the run. Aiming to withstand an energy rating of 22kJ – equivalent to a cricket ball travelling at 1,175mph – the FSP was to be fired at an expected speed of 980m/s (2,000mph) meaning the test was conducted at a faster velocity than required.

Morgan’s Chris Pedlingham explained: “The panels we have designed contain millions of woven glass fibres and, at the point of impact, the layers of material will begin to fray as they absorb the energy. As each fibre breaks, it takes energy away from the projectile, to stop it piercing the inner surface and travelling through to endanger the driver.”

Conor La Grue of the Bloodhound Team added: “As the panel has been designed with a slight, yet complex curvature, it has performed better than expected under this robust testing. It has exceeded the targets set, proving its performance at 29kJ energy rating, which is an important box ticked in the final stages of preparation. In the end, the FSP was fired at 2,300mph meaning we can go into trials and eventually the record attempt itself with the confidence that Andy will be safe from high-speed projectiles.”

Morgan, through its Composites & Defence Systems business, is a supplier of lightweight combat-proven body armour solutions to the global defence sector, as well as commercial composites for specialist applications in a variety of industries from aerospace and transport to medical. Its in-house testing facilities include helmet impact testing rigs for validation and development, instrumented and calibrated gas guns for fragment simulating projectile testing, and an independent UKAS 17025 accredited ballistics range, allowing rapid turnaround for iterative design and development activities. The company has also supplied more than 1,100 fully integrated armoured vehicles for the UK MOD for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, including the Mastiff, Ridgback and Wolfhound, as well as the Tactical Advanced Structural Composite (TASC) Series light patrol vehicle based on the Land Rover Defender.

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