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BAE building combat vehicles inspired by ironclad beetles

By
Ryan Maass
The memory metal system will theoretically allow combat vehicles to bounce back after impact. Photo courtesy BAE Systems
The memory metal system will theoretically allow combat vehicles to "bounce back" after impact. Photo courtesy BAE Systems

LONDON, Nov. 21 (UPI) -- BAE Systems plans to utilize a bendable titanium alloy inspired by the shells of ironcald beetles to develop future military vehicles.

BAE engineers say the flexible material will allow the suspension to "bounce back" into shape after impact, allowing operators to continue their mission with the vehicle. The material, referred to as "memory metal alloy," was initially developed by the United States Naval Ordnance Laboratory in the 1960s. BAE officials believe their latest project marks the first time it will be used to build an entire suspension system.

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"This unique use of memory metals could prove a real game-changer for combat vehicles taking part in operations," BAE Systems Mobility chief Marcus Potter said in a press release. "Being able to adapt to changing situations is hugely important to maintaining effectiveness, and this application of bendable titanium could give armed forces the required flexibility – and survivability -- to complete tasks in challenging areas."

A test team has already constructed a prototype of the system, which builds upon other protections in combat vehicles such as hulls designed to protect passengers from blasts such as mines or improvised explosive devices. A small-scale model was subjected to five powerful explosive tests, and showed significant resilience against them.

BAE Systems officials say the memory metal suspension system could make its appearance on the battlefield within the next 10 years.

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