Protection Sciences

Explore opportunities in Protection Sciences

Future Multi-Domain Operations will require a Joint Force that can penetrate enemy anti-access and area denial systems to enable freedom for both strategic and operational maneuver [1]. Within MDO, future Army forces will be prepared to fight and win across all contested spaces to create temporary windows of superiority across multiple domains that enable the Joint Force freedom of action to seize, retain, and exploit the initiative to defeat enemies [1]. Maneuver forces will integrate reconnaissance and security operations, move sensors and long-range capabilities into positions of advantage, integrate intelligence and operations, defeat enemy cross domain capabilities, and transition from shaping operations to close combat [2].  Maneuver support forces will provide reinforcing and complementary capabilities to reduce obstacles, conduct mobility and counter-mobility operations and support the future force [2].  In order to out maneuver the enemy, the Army must design combat vehicles to provide Brigade combat teams (BCT’s) with high mobility and soldier systems that are highly lethal and low burden [2]. Several Army modernization priorities have been established to support this need for technical advancements in these capabilities, specifically the Next Generation Combat Vehicle and Soldier Lethality systems.  Soldiers as well as manned and unmanned platforms will play a key role expanding the operational reach and situational awareness of maneuver and maneuver support forces resulting in increased combat effectiveness.

The Protection Sciences foundational research competency of CCDC ARL is focused on the identification, creation, and transition of scientific discoveries and technological innovations in four underlying research areas: Vehicle Protection, Soldier Protection, Protection Science Basic Research, Experimental & Computational Capability for Protection, and Electronic Warfare/Attack & Directed Energy (Figure 1).  These five areas are critical to the U.S. Army’s concepts for maneuver and maneuver support [2, 3]. This competency concentrates on high-risk, high-payoff, transformational basic and applied research that are expected to have revolutionary impacts on these warfighting capabilities. In addition to significantly improving the Army’s existing warfighting capabilities, the Protection Sciences research creates disruptive and game-changing Vehicle and Soldier-centric protection technologies for the Army, while also preventing technological surprises from potential adversaries. The Protection Sciences research focus and vision for MDO are:

Research Focus: To discover, innovate, and transition S&T capabilities that (1) facilitate the development of protection mechanisms and systems for Army ground platforms and dismounted Soldiers that are effective against a broad array of threats and provide overmatch; (2) allow freedom of maneuver across multi-domain operations; and (3) enable robust computational tools and advanced diagnostic & experimental capabilities to enable and develop technologies for tomorrow's battlefields..

Vision for MDO:        Protection systems available to commanders of the Army of 2050 are light weight, low burden, and resilient against a broad array of current and future threats providing uninhibited movement and maneuver during the execution of multi-domain operations. The desired end state is state of the art S&T enablers to provide forces with the right protection at any place and time without increased warfighter risk against the continuum of threats and without degrading combat power.

It is the intent of the Protection Science  foundational research competency to continuously develop the science base required to adequately understand phenomena related to terminal ballistic interactions, blast-structure and blast-human interactions, and then define technology concepts that will provide great strides in the protection of Soldiers and Army platforms.  Combinations of existing and new innovative technologies will be brought together through partnerships within CCDC ARL, other government agencies, US industry, foreign partners, and academic partners to realize disruptive system advances.   Specifically we seek to develop the necessary science and technology that will be required in order to transition holistic protective suites that are robust beyond any point design and adaptable to evolving threat scenarios of the future.  

As one of ARL’s primary competencies, research within Protection Sciences supports several of ARL’s Essential Research Programs (ERPs).  Protection sciences focuses efforts to support the Convergence of Lethality, Protection & Autonomy to Dominate Ground Combat (CONVERGE) and the Physics of Soldier Protection to Defeat Evolving Threats (PSPDET) ERPs.

The emerging Army Operating Concept for Movement and Maneuver [2] places a premium on a future forces ability to team between manned and unmanned platforms.   As a compliment to [2], the CONVERGE ERP conducts foundational research that couples lethality and protection technologies with autonomous behaviors to increase combat vehicle effectiveness for teams of manned and unmanned platforms.  Within this ERP on-platform technologies for survivability will be co-developed with the specific movement and maneuver of the platform/platforms to maximized protective functions.  The Protection Sciences core competencies will contribute the target-interaction concepts to defeat all tactical threats.  Contributions will include both weight and space efficient concepts and the mechanisms to adapt these concepts to constraints imposed by platforms, platform movement within a battlefield and changes in enemy weapons, tactics or procedures.

The principle objective for PSPDET ERP is protection overmatch against future threats through the development of intelligent and adaptive protective systems.  We seek a revolution in approaches used for dismounted Warfighter protection from future combat threats while we simultaneously increase the effectiveness of soldiers on the battlefield.  The Protection Sciences core competencies will contribute understanding regarding kinematic mechanisms that can be used to manipulate material systems during ballistic impact.   In particular, we will learn to exploit ultra-hard materials developed in our Materials Science foundational research competency within to provide the lowest-burden protection to the warfighter.