The United States Army and Marine Corps received its 100th set of sapphire-engineered armor to make the bulletproof windshields and door windows of the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Launcher significantly safer and more durable. Saint-Gobain Crystals, part of the Saint-Gobain family of companies, provided the breakthrough, sapphire based technology. The New Hampshire National Guard, based in Nashua, was the first to have its rocket launchers retrofitted.
Saint-Gobain was awarded the first of its kind contract, a three-year contract valued at approximately $20 million in October 2012. As a result, Saint-Gobain has increased its workforce by thirty percent at its Milford Plant. In total, Saint-Gobain will supply enough armor for 540 vehicles. This next-generation, transparent armor replaces conventional glass-glass armor with an advanced ceramic-based product comprised of large sheets of sapphire laminated with multiple layers of glass and polycarbonate. The superior mechanical and optical properties of sapphire armor help defend against the higher threat levels that combat vehicles endure, providing superior ballistic performance, greater than 50 percent weight savings, enhanced night vision effectiveness and increased durability in challenging environments. As sapphire is second in hardness only to diamond and is chemically inert, the material performs well in sandy desert conditions and resists etching that typically occurs in the glass as a result of rocket launches. These properties provide a significant improvement in visibility for the operators of the vehicle.
"The U.S. Army and Marine Corps engaged Saint-Gobain because its sapphire-glass armor solution met the Army's demanding performance requirements and delivered a higher level of safety, durability and visibility for our service men and women," LTC Bryan Salyers, U.S. Army Product Manager for Field Artillery Launchers. "Ensuring our combat vehicles are equipped with the most advanced technology available is critical to the U.S. Army and Marine Corps mission and the safety of all military personnel."
Saint-Gobain has spent several years researching and developing the crystal-based technology for use across many applications. It was also first to bring the sapphire transparent armor to market. In addition to supplying this technology to the U.S. Army and Marine Corps for their rocket launchers, Saint-Gobain is also the sole supplier of Electro-Optical Targeting System (EOTS) sapphire windows for the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy's Joint Strike Fighter Program. The technology has also been applied in semiconductor and industrial applications, demonstrating the commercial capability of sapphire on an industrial scale.
"Although the industrialization of the product has created numerous applications, Saint-Gobain is most honored to have its sapphire crystal technology applied in the defense setting where we can help better protect the lives of our brave military personnel," said Natesh Krishnan, director of global sales and marketing at Saint-Gobain Crystals. "The years of research and development have led to this very rewarding moment in which we finally see the technology applied and know that our military men and women will benefit. We are humbled to share this breakthrough application with the U.S. Army and Marine Corps and look forward to delivering the remainder of our contract."
About Saint-Gobain Crystals
Saint-Gobain Crystals, a division of Saint-Gobain, is headquartered in Hiram, Ohio, and is a world leader in the design and implementation of crystal-based technology for radiation detection, optics, and sapphire components for industrial, aerospace and defense applications. With operations in North America, Europe and Asia, Saint-Gobain's Crystals division engineers materials and supplies components and sub-systems for the international medical imaging, energy exploration, electronics, aerospace and security markets.
About Saint-Gobain in North America
Saint-Gobain, the world's largest building materials company, has its North American headquarters in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. As the world leader in sustainable habitat, Saint-Gobain is committed to inventing solutions to help professionals and communities around the world build and renovate comfortable, healthy, economical and energy-efficient buildings. The company has more than 265 locations in North America and approximately 19,000 employees. In the United States and Canada, Saint-Gobain reported sales of approximately $7.9 billion in 2012.
Recognized as a 2009 and 2010 ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Saint-Gobain earned the 2011, 2012 and 2013 ENERGY STAR Sustained Excellence Award, the highest level of recognition for outstanding contributions to protecting the environment through energy efficiency. For more information about Saint-Gobain in North America, connect with the company on Facebook and Twitter.