4 Oct 2019

TenCate ABDS Sentinel X: Active protection against underbelly blast

IED (Improvised Explosive Device) was the number one cause of serious injury for US soldiers during the recent periods of conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan. In response, TenCate Advanced Armor created and developed the world’s first practical Active Blast Defeat System (ABDS) called Sentinel X. TenCate’s ABDS Sentinel X Active Blast Defeat System employs sensors, a processor and countermeasures to detect a blast event, measure and evaluate the threat and as appropriate, respond in as little as two milliseconds. 

Because ABDS Sentinel X acts so fast there is no human interaction in the process and therefore the technology is termed Active or Autonomous. ABDS utilizes a physics principle called “Conservation of Momentum” to defeat the injurious and deadly effects of underbelly IED and buried mine blasts. ABDS Sentinel X employs carefully timed and managed counterforces to mitigate vehicle launch acceleration, jump height, duration of flight, slam-down and post-blast enemy ambush events. 

ABDS Sentinel X has been evaluated by US and Allied DoDs and carries the endorsements of DARPA, ARL, CoE-TRADOC and GVSC/CCDC. ABDS has been tested successfully by the US ARMY RDECOM and has demonstrated significantly enhanced blast protection performance on light, medium, heavy, wheeled, tracked, combat and tactical platforms. The ABDS Sentinel X technology is designated Technology Readiness Level Six (TRL-6) by the United States ARMY which means that it can be selected for procurement and integration on appropriate contemporary deployed Military ground vehicle platforms. 

ABDS is optional, additive, modular, underbelly blast threat protection to provide flexibility for forward operations and the existing fleet. ABDS can also be optimized (i.e. lighter, smaller, less expensive, more effective) when designed into a platform. In general, ABDS Sentinel X provides higher levels of occupant, systems and cargo survivability for blast resistant Military ground vehicles. ABDS can provide a blast survivability insurance option at a lower cost and lower weight than today’s metallic, composite and ceramic armor packages. 

A proven, phased and gated, 3-step process is available to evaluate the potential of ABDS for a platform. The first step is performed entirely in the virtual world with available platform and baseline blast test data loaded into highly specialized software. This effort generates projections for enhanced survivability metrics and the associated trades. 

If the client finds these projections attractive, the program can advance to full-scale, live-fire, Validation testing where the computer-generated results are confirmed. If the client finds this phase satisfactory, a third step, called Integration, can be optioned. Integration delivers the actual production product or “kit” configuration and permits low-risk procurement decisions at the client’s discretion. In the interim, the customer and end-user yields identification of, and metrics for, an authentic, measured and validated “Underbelly Blast Threat Solution” that can reside in their platform protection toolbox. 

All ground vehicle platforms and requirements vary and therefore TenCate designed the ABDS system to be flexible, accommodating and highly adjustable. It is important to note that a platform must matriculate through the evaluation process before ABDS can be employed on it. The tested and proven Evaluation, Validation and Integration steps each consume approximately six months depending upon availability and fidelity of existing test data and assets. Nevertheless, the costs of these platform compatibility efforts are not onerous because the protocol and technologies are proven, optional, MILSPEC and well-established.

What is Active Blast Mitigation? – the reduction of mine blast effects by deployment of countermeasures. 

What are the benefits? –  

     a) increased survivability – reduction in leg, spine and neck injuries, and also flailing injuries
     b)  reduced injuries caused by impact in slamdown
     c) reduced demands on seats – far less seat stroke 
     d)  vehicle is more likely to stay upright - aiding in egress and recovery
     e) potential to survive larger threats or accommodate 95th Occupant 

Will It Work on My Platform? – Chances are YES.  ABDS has been proven across a variety of platforms and energy absorbing conditions.   This includes very thin-skinned vehicles, tactical vehicles, and combat vehicles. 

Is there any previous performance data available? – Yes, ABDS has been tested autonomously on over 5 different vehicles under US Government control and compared against baseline.  There are also numerous internal research and foreign government tests.  

How is the System Sized/ Integrated? – If previous test data or modeling is available, a review is made to determine where the system will be most beneficial.  Additional modeling and integration studies with requirements are then performed to locate and size the system.  If desired a physical integration and test may be performed to validate the data.  

What is the cost? – Cost will depend upon system size and quantity ordered.  However, the system was designed to cost around 75k 

What is ABDS system maturity? – The system has been acknowledged as TRL 6 by TARDEC and recent testing has increased it to TRL 7.  In addition to vehicle integration and blast testing the system has undergone durability, EMI, PESD, Shock and vibration, hot and cold, IM and AFSRB review. 

Is ABDS MAPS compliant? – TenCate has a CRADA with the MAPS working group and will be compliant.  ABDS is currently NDI capable 

When is it best to get ABDS involved? – early in the design process allows the most flexibility for ABDS integration.  It is recommended to investigate the potential of ABDS prior to conflict to reduce the design and integration time when needed. 

What is Interior Safety System Controller? – a device which triggers/ controls multiple safety devices (such as airbags, pretensioners, seats) based upon vehicle events such as blast, crash, rollover    

Why does the system utilize an array of satellite sensor? – The array helps detect and identify events along with providing a validation 

Can TenCate provide a smaller standalone system with a sensor and processor for a seat? – Yes, this would be a new build, but it could take advantage of our proven sensor and algorithm.   

How mature is the system? – the system is very mature (TRL6/7) for detecting and triggering blast events as it is the basis for ABDS and has triggered several airbags for demonstration in mine events.  The system needs some development for crash and roll, but there is a mature methodology to build from for this 

Is the system fast enough for my application? – the system can detect and trigger a safety device very quickly.  Studies looking at off the shelf safety devices suggest there is plenty of time.  It is envisioned the system may be utilized for an active floor type scenario.

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