Using traditional materials such as high-quality steel for components and vehicle protection have downfalls in the constantly evolving threats and performance requirements needed to combat those threats. The excessive weight of a material like steel can severely affect the performance and survivability of vehicles in the field because of the increased vehicle weight and thus necessary modification to the suspension system to support the increased inertial energy. Vehicle maneuverability can be significantly impaired as well, and with the advent of smarter weapons and threats to the soldiers, the ability to get in and out of a hostile situation is paramount.
The protection of soldiers, vehicles, and equipment take full benefits of composites that can absorb or dissipate energy thanks to their intrinsic nature. Moreover, composites allow downsizing of the weight penalty of any protection.
The advantages of using composites are:
Enabling weight savings, high payload and fuel efficiency, high performance, and speed capability. Weight and cost are the key features for military vehicle components. Strength is also highly essential. Since military vehicles are constructed with the protection factor in mind, they are bulky, however, composites render them lighter.
Composites have an infinite fatigue life. Steel’s fatigue life is estimated at 1 billion cycles and aluminum at 1 million cycles
The corrosion resistance of composites is advantageous in challenging environments since they do not rust.
Composites have anisotropic strength properties, i.e. they are stronger in specific directions. This means stacking multiple composite layers in different orientations allows the fibers to bear multi-directional forces and loads.