Surface Transforms, manufacturer of high-technology carbon ceramic materials, has been awarded its first contract valued at around £40,000 by the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD). The contract is for Surface Transforms to develop its unique carbon fibre reinforced ceramic (CFRC) materials for use in body and vehicle armour.
The brief is for materials that will protect individuals and vehicles against repeat hit high-power rifle and cannon fire. This work is expected to be completed within approximately nine months. Subject to satisfactory product performance further contract work is expected, leading eventually to full-scale commercial orders within three years.
Confirmation of the new MoD contract follows Surface Transforms' recent conditional institutional placing which raised £2.7m after expenses. The placing provides the Company with the capital to increase its number of development programmes, including the new MoD body and vehicle armour programme, and to continue to invest in its technology advantage, staff and production capacity.
Current UK combat armour incorporating ceramic plates is a number of years old and is becoming dated, particularly in relation to new threats specifically designed to defeat conventional ceramics.
Preliminary work already completed over the past six months at the Royal Military College of Science has shown that Surface Transforms' standard CFRC has dramatically increased close shot-to-shot multi-hit performance compared with standard alumina ceramic armour plates.
The MoD contract represents a new application for Surface Transforms' CFRC materials which until now have been predominantly used in friction applications within the automotive and aerospace industries. Based on current prices for standard performance ceramic plates, the value of the UK market for body armour for both replacement (maintenance) and new classified protection requirements is approximately £0.6m per annum, excluding any larger NATO requirements. For vehicle armour, the UK market value for replacement ceramics is estimated at £0.4m per annum and £1.4m per annum for the new Future Rapid Effects System (FRES) vehicles which are expected to be commissioned from 2007, both excluding any larger NATO requirements.
The Ministry of Defence commented:
"There is a worldwide concern to provide increased but affordable ballistic protection to military assets, at decreased weights. A particular problem with current lightweight solutions which incorporate ceramic materials is one of limited multi-hit performance."
Julio Faria, Managing Director of Surface Transforms, commented:
"We are pleased to have won this important contract from the MoD. This demonstrates the versatility of our materials for uses beyond aircraft and car brakes. With new funds being injected from the placing, we are now well positioned to incorporate our materials in a wider range of programmes, as well as increasing our presence in the key aerospace and automotive markets."
For more information on body armour, click here.