THOR Mortar Brings the Thunder
This week marks the return of Defense and Security Equipment International, a biennial event that may trigger some creative protesting, but also gives the industry's heavy hitters a chance to show off new artillery.
A couple of things caught my eye, but the first was THOR, a unique mortar round developed from the security and defense side of Saab.
Actually, the first thing to catch my eye was that at least three different products at DSEI were named THOR: Saab's mortar round, headgear from Savox, and the Twin Hulled Offshore Raider (THOR) from CTruk. For this particular story, we'll focus on the explosive.
In the past, mortar rounds blasted in every direction, which decreases the mortar's effect when more than half of the fragments are sent into the sky. This new design only loses about 20 percent of its projectiles, making it more lethal -- never before has a truer use of "more bang for your buck" has ever been used.
The mortar is more than 2.5x more lethal than the standard 120mm round, has a range of about 8,500m, and according to the company, the cylindrical main body is what makes THOR more lethal.
Each projectile weighs more than 30 pounds, is about 770 mm long, and can hold more than 4,250 steel balls or fragments. So, even with the 20 percent loss, that is still 850 steel balls sent into the sky.
BAE's Ironclad UGV
Not to be outdone on its own turf, BAE systems made a splash with an array of field equipment.
Among the new product introductions, BAE introduced the Broadsword Spine, an invisible power and data network that is built into a soldier's clothing using conductive fabrics instead of wires. It's a unique wearable developed using technology from Intelligent Textiles Limited that can supplies electricity through yarn.
BAE also developed new technology that protects pilots from laser attacks (apparently there were 1,400 laser attacks in the UK alone in 2015); they partnered with General Dynamics on smart bridge monitoring; and they revealed a concept for the autonomous tank of the future.
Ironclad is a modular UGV that roles on asymmetric rubber tracks for more than 30 miles on a single charge, and can climb 45-degree gradients in extreme environments. The modular design makes it capable of attaching different packages to the top, so you can attach a robotic arm to it for explosive ordnance, add a sensor and camera to it for autonomous reconnaissance missions, or you can even mount a remote weapon station to it.
A pair of the UGVs can even be used in tandem to evacuate casualties from the battlefield.
Next, BAE is working on making Ironclad capable of working autonomously alongside other vehicles and ground troops to complete missions.
Lockheed Fires Drone Projectiles Out of Canisters
Finally, we have a new drone that is launched by firing a canister into the air.
Developed by Lockheed Martin and Wirth Research, the OUTRIDER is a lightweight unmanned aircraft system that is only four inches wide, weighs 3.75 pounds, and can be launched with the press of a button -- be it by land, air, or under-the-sea.
The OUTRIDER can be operated remotely, but can also fly autonomously, up to 50 knots. It also features an HDTV and an infrared camera in the event that an actual human is operating the craft.
The concept was designed by Lockheed Martin engineers based out of the United Kingdom, and while the rendering is interesting, I can't wait to see this thing work in real-world scenarios.
This is Engineering By Design with David Mantey.