Passive Underbody Mine Protection from ABBS

Composite Reinforced Belly-Plates (CRBP) for Ground Vehicles

Land mine and IED blasts are the cause of many deaths and critical injuries to civilians as well as military personnel operating in areas of conflict – present and historic. Vehicles in these conflict zones need underbody protection.

CRBP - Test Jig April 2021 - Overview
ABBS - CRBP - Toyota HiLux April 2021

ABBS have progressed with the design and demonstration of composite-reinforced belly plate (CRBP) technology, as a key element for the passive underbody mine protection of light-weight ground vehicles.

The ABBS composite-reinforced steel belly plate assembly minimises faceplate deformation and impulse transfer, whilst maximising load transference between the steel and composite structural elements:  the CRBP design seeks to maximise energy-absorption and shock-wave attenuation.

Jig testing has demonstrated CRBP performance (and test jig response) over 4kg and 6kg TNT-equivalent buried charges, set in unprepared ground.

The test jig had an all-up weight of 1.8 Tonnes.

  • The 4kg (TE) test demonstrated survival of the CRBP, with 50mm (2”) deflection in its upper face (75mm / 3” indentation into its faceplate), with the test jig thrown 4 metres (12 feet).
  • The 6kg (TE) test caused some fracturing of the CRBP, with 230mm (9”) deflection in its upper face, with the test jig thrown 20 metres (60 feet).

These results contrast with the CRBP fracture (and vehicle loss) seen in earlier baseline testing of a vehicle test rig over a 6kg (TE) charge.

ABBS consider the 4kg (TE) under-body threat is effectively addressed by the CRBP, with a blast seat then addressing the effects of global acceleration and slam-down on the seat occupant.

The next test phase will determine CRBP performance on a Toyota HiLux vehicle test rig over a 4kg (TE) threat charge.

CRBP Design Overview

The ABBS CRBP is made up of the following four elements which have been specifically designed for testing on the profile of a Toyota HiLux.

  1. Steel Armour Faceplate
  2. Energy Absorbing Core
  3. Composite Reinforcement
  4. Steel Armour Cover Plate

Isometric views of the CRBP – note the rectangular aperture (cut-out) in the Cover plate towards the front of the assembly, to accommodate the gearbox of the HiLux vehicle.

Test Jig design

A steel frame test jig was fabricated in structural steel, to provide a support interface to the CRBP replicating the chassis rails of a Toyota HiLux vehicle

The test jig frame provided an all-up weight (jig including CRBP) of 1.8 Tonnes.

For these tests, the CRBP has a depth of approximately 3″ (75mm) and weighs approximately 400kg.

CRBP Jig General Arrangement - Grey area shows the CRBP.

Ground Condition for Blast Tests

The test jig provided a 230mm (9 inches) ground clearance below the faceplate of the CRBP.

Each threat charge was buried 100mm (4”) beneath the ground surface.

The test pit was sampled, with the sand/soil/gravel media having a nominal density of 1,800 kg m-3

CRBP Jig Test Ground Conditions April 2021

Test #1: 1.8 Tonne Test Jig over 4kg (TE) charge

The objective of this test was to demonstrate the effectiveness of a CRBP test assembly over a 4kg TNT-equivalent (TE) threat charge, and to establish the jump height of a light-weight (1.8 Tonne) test jig over a DSTL Protection Level D1 under-body threat.

The detonation resulted in a jump height of approximately 4 metres.

Test #1: Analysis

Inspection of the CRBP hardware revealed peak deformation of 75mm (3”) in the Faceplate and peak deformation of 50mm (2”) in the Cover plate

No further damage was evident in the Faceplate.

With the CRBP dismantled and lowered from the test jig, the Cover Plate was clearly visible (showing no penetration nor cracking), and very uniform distribution of the deformation.

ABBS consider this test to have shown the 4kg (TE) under-body threat was effectively addressed by the CRBP.

Given the 4-metre (12 feet) jump height seen with this light-weight 1.8 tonne test jig, an energy-absorbing (stroking) blast seat can be used to address the associated effects of global acceleration and slam-down on the seat occupant.

CRBP Faceplate following 4kg Test - April 2021
CRBP Coverplate following 4kg Test - April 2021

Test #2: 1.8 Tonne Test Jig over 6kg (TE) charge

The objective of this test was to demonstrate the effectiveness of a CRBP test assembly over a 6kg TNT-equivalent (TE) threat charge, and to establish the jump height of a light-weight (1.8 Tonne) test jig over a STANAG level M2b under-body threat (equivalent to Dstl Protection Level D2)

Test #2: Analysis

On detonation of the 6kg (TE) under-body charge, the test jig was thrown c.20 metres vertically.

The blast seat mounted atop the rig was seen to fully stroke within an initial 40 msec period.

Inspection of the CRBP hardware revealed fracture of the Faceplate and localised cracking towards the front of the Cover Plate (around the existing rectangular aperture for the HiLux gearbox), with Cover Plate deformation of 23cm (9”)

The Faceplate was found to fracture laterally, across the centre of the CRBP

Whilst this test established the design limitation of the light-weight CRBP on a light-weight test jig, the ABBS VGAMTM active countermeasure system can be added to a lightweight vehicle to mitigate the global acceleration, and enable a lightweight vehicle to remain near the ground

CRBP Faceplate following 6kg Test - April 2021
CRBP Coverplate following 6kg Test - April 2021

Comparison with Preliminary CRBP Baseline Test – 6kg (TE) on Toyota HiLux

This preliminary CRBP design was based upon earlier ABBS work from 2017-18, optimised for minimum mass, and modelled using finite-element analysis (FEA);  a key output from this test was to calibrate the design model factors used within this FEA design model.

Whilst on detonation, the HiLux was only thrown approximately 4 metres into the air, the under-body blast was seen to penetrate the vehicle cab, indicating failure of the CRBP.

Inspection of the Test Rig showed vehicle loss, with longitudinal fracture of the preliminary CRBP Faceplate and Cover Plate.

By comparison, the latest tests have shown big improvements in the performance of the current version of the CRBP which has proven to effectively address the 4kg (TE) under-body threat by maximising energy-absorption and shock-wave attenuation.

As can be seen in the photographs to the right, even following the 6kg (TE) test, the revised CRBP was much improved over the baseline test and withstood the effects of the blast with no penetration through the upper layers.

Result of CRBP Baseline 6kg (TE) Preliminary Test January 2021

Result of 6kg (TE) Test on Revised CRBP April 2021

The Future of the ABBS Belly Plate

We are already seeing an increase in interest in the type of passive protection against blast threats that the revised CRBP can provide.

Not only can this be used as a flat belly plate to provide protection for civilians and aid agencies working in former war zones, but it is also potentially suitable as an upgrade for existing MRAP V-hulls.

As an upgrade, to V-hulls, the energy absorbing  technologies of the CRBP can mitigate the initial peak shockwave loads and increase blast capability to a level above what exists already.  This would result in only a 50mm decrease in ground clearance and fairly insignificant weight addition.

Shock transfer into the main vehicle structure should be reduced as well as making it less likely that belly plate failure will occur due to the peak loading.

Watch out for the results of our further testing.

Crowdcube Funding Pitch 2021

The Crowdcube Funding Pitch is now open and investment at the link below:-

There have been quite a few updates and progress since the last round in October, so we hope to welcome you onboard this exciting journey.  There is plenty to read about on the pitch deck and updates to whet your appetites and show how ABBS aims to make a real difference in protection for occupants of both land vehicles and eVTOL aircraft.

So why not Join Us and Save Lives

Investments of this nature carry risks to your capital. Please Invest Aware.

Forthcoming Funding Round Update

As a reminder, we will soon be launching a new funding round on Crowdcube as we move towards commercialisation of our offerings.  If you are interested in finding out more, then you can pre-register your interest via the dedicated Crowdcube page (capital at risk as always)

Crowdcube are still coming back with final questions on the due diligence before the new pitch can go live but we are nearly there I think. Part of the problem is that there has been a succession of new developments that we want to get into the pitch so we have had to update it twice, which means new questions from Crowdcube each time. Hopefully we should be able to get the pitch live next week.

Brief Update on Progress Since Last Fundraising Round

Blast Test on the Hilux Belly Plate Design

Following the complete failure of the first test using the 6mm thick main belly plate last year we have now successfully tested a modified version using exactly the same 6mm plates which failed last time. A very heavy 6kg test on a jig (heavy because of the ground conditions) gave about 230mm deformation without penetration, whilst a 4kg test gave only 50mm permanent deformation at the back face, with a jump height within the performance limits of stroking blast seats.

The jump height of the 6kg test was far more than blast seats could mitigate so whilst we could deal with the penetration threat with 6kg it would need the active Linear Rocket Motors to control the jump height which could make the system too expensive for many light vehicle applications.

So the emerging conclusion is that we have a 4kg capable solution, which we believe is considerably better than current options, probably twice what anyone else has achieved on such a light vehicle.

Furthermore, we now have good data on the novel combination of elements we have used in this belly plate design, which will be further elucidated during the current UK MOD DSTL/DASA test programme which will be completed over the next 2 or 3 months.

We think that we have discovered a potentially patentable combination of design elements that have not been used together before and they may provide a desirable mixture of both shock attenuation and reduced deformation/weight, albeit in a more complicated structure than a plain sheet of armour steel.

This may prove ideal for use with larger armoured vehicle designs, particularly combined with the active Linear Rocket Motors.  We will see what the market thinks about it.

Global Marketing Channel Development

There has been extensive development of the global marketing channel and strengthening of the ABBS team since the first Crowdcube round nine months ago. We now have strong representation covering the whole Asia-Pacific region via a new recruit to the Team, Steve O’Connor (based in Singapore), with specific agreements either in place or being discussed for Japan, South Korea, India, Pakistan, Turkey, South Africa, many ex-French Colonial countries in North, West and East Africa, and options for the UAE and maybe Saudi Arabia. There is  already our existing operation in the USA of course.

Our new agents in India and Turkey are being very pro-active and have had good responses from their key targets which we are following up and there are potential joint manufacturing operation opportunities in both these locations, as there is in the Middle East.

The eVTOL Zero-Zero Safety System

There has been a real, game-changing breakthrough in this market via a proposed agreement with another major US player in the market. No more information to release at this time but the deal should be signed and sealed within the next two weeks.

We have also been approached by a local UK eVTOL project looking to start a programme to demonstrate the effectiveness of a Zero-Zero safety system on their aircraft if their funding from a Stock Exchange listing comes through.

These two items match beautifully together.

US Army/Pentagon Project Proposal

Again, we can’t say much, only that a major proposal has been made (not by us) for a significant, long term development programme relating to the land vehicle protection system.

New Enquiry for Blast Protected Containers

We have received an un-solicited proposal for blast proof containers.  This is something we know well in terms of the technology used currently, and there is direct read-across from the vehicle belly plate design described above. This could either come to nothing or it could become a major new development line for a standard, high volume product using our existing technology, so it will be interesting to see how it develops.

BFBS Video on You Tube

In case you haven’t picked it up yet, the British Forces Broadcasting Service video at has now had over 768,000 views since 11th January, and has raised a lot of interest, including that from the Pentagon. Excellent free publicity potentially leading to major funding for development, which can’t be bad.

New Products From Other Suppliers Added to Our Product Portfolio.

  • We have an agreement with an Israeli supplier of armoured vehicle blast seats to develop at their own cost crashworthy stroking seats for use in eVTOL aircraft and they have now appointed someone to oversee the design and development of this product specifically for the eVTOL industry. These seats will be offered to the market as an integral part of our safety package.
  • We are in the midst of agreeing heads of terms for the supply of a novel fire resistant prepreg for battery boxes for eVTOL’s and other fire-resistant applications on the aircraft from an associated UK prepreg manufacturer.This new prepreg type is much better than the current standard phenolic prepreg systems which are unpleasant to use due to the toxic ingredients in the material.Containing fires in the very large battery boxes used in the eVTOL’s is a serious issue, and this material has already been certified for use in the application. We may also supply other products in the supplier’s prepreg range for other applications in other markets.

CrowdCube Funding Pitch Coming Soon

Why are we launching a new crowdfunding round?

We will soon be launching a second funding round on CrowdCube.

Whilst the focus for the original funding was on continuing the development and marketing of our unique solutions for mine and IED threats to vehicles, there have been a number of significant technical, product, and marketing developments which provide real opportunities for bringing other ABBS group products to market.

These new opportunities are all related to our basic mission to save lives and prevent serious injuries in situations where to date fatalities have been considered inevitable.

Wider Global Marketing of the Armoured Vehicle Technology

As a result of the previous interest through CrowdCube and also our appearance on Forces TV (which had over 700,000 views); we have received a substantial number of new contacts globally interested in either using or marketing our technology in the armoured vehicle sector.

This has enabled us to establish good coverage of immediate potential in Africa, the Middle East,India, Pakistan and the Asia Pacific regions where current conflicts mean that mine and IED threats regularly cause casualties.

Hence, the belly plate programme for the Toyota Hilux, which is expected to lead to first sales later this year, is already demanding increased marketing and technical support in these regions. Marketing to a number of interested operations in Africa and the Middle East is only awaiting the results of our final Hilux proof-of-concept test which is now expected to be in early April.

The Hilux belly-plate design has become more sophisticated than originally envisaged in order to optimise both the performance and weight. Much FEA (Finite Element Analysis) of the structure has been undertaken to optimise the design, prior to multiple jig testing (due at the end of March) to prove the design, followed by the full Hilux test in April.This has been a complex design to optimise, especially as the FEA cannot be completely relied upon to give 100% correct results under the extreme blast conditions. Therefore, multiple series of tests are required to demonstrate the suitability of the different options. These include both static and drop testing of various reinforcing beam constructions to identify their relative effectiveness, followed by finally proving the optimal solution by the more expensive full scale blast tests.

Increased eVTOL Market Products and Activity

The development of the Active VTOL Crash Prevention Limited (AVCP) Active Zero-Zero Safety System which was originally designed to use a combination of a large parachute and retro-rockets has been on the back burner for the last 18 months because of the lack of funding to pursue it.

However, a new development has simplified the system concept and new products becoming available has brought forward the need to re-start marketing of the concept, and the new products, as follows:

Stroking Crashworthy Seat Supply and Simplification of the Zero-Zero System.
AVCP has obtained a supply of stroking crashworthy aircraft seats which provide protection from spinal injuries in a crash. The availability of stroking seats has enabled the simplification of the eVTOL Safety System by removing the large parachute and replacing it with a small drogue which can be deployed at any aircraft speed.

The aviation regulators are insisting that these aircraft must be crashworthy by themselves, and hence must be designed to take a 10m/s landing without serious injury to the occupants, and stroking seats are a normal part of the design to achieve this.

Hence, we can now change our concept by:

  • Reducing the size of the parachute to a small drogue which can be opened fully at any aircraft speed, and which controls the aircraft descent rate to 25m/s and also maintains a level aircraft attitude during the descent.
  • Using the retro-rockets to reduce the aircraft descent rate from a maximum of 25m/s to 10m/s on landing, which is then dealt with mainly by the stroking crashworthy seats.

The result of these changes is that the whole system becomes lighter, cheaper, and simpler to design and install on aircraft and certify for service.

This development on its own is enough to justify renewed marketing activity for the concept, but the addition of the stroking seats to the product portfolio can potentially provide earlier sales than the main system itself, and there is also another product that may generate short term revenue whilst requiring no significant investment in R&D.

Fire Resistant Prepreg System for Battery Box Fire Containment and Cabin Components.
ABBS is has entered an agreement to distribute a novel prepreg composite system which has exceptional fire resistance. This has already been certified for use as a battery fire containment system for eVTOL aircraft and is being evaluated for similar use in road vehicles. It can also be used for aircraft/rail/road transport cabin interior and firewall applications.

This composite material has excellent Health and Safety and ‘green’ credentials, unlike the phenolic resin system generally used for these applications to date, which has serious toxicity and skin irritation problems and is currently being phased out of use where possible.  The resin is made from a waste product from processing sugar or other organic materials.

The UK-based manufacturer of this prepreg is owned by ex-Advanced Composite Group personnel with whom Roger Sloman has a strong relationship; and an agreement has been reached to allow ABBS to develop a joint global marketing exercise to maximise the exploitation of the potential that exists, based initially on the strong position that AVCP has in the worldwide eVTOL market.

EASA/CAA and FAA Philosophy on Aircraft Safety
It may come as a surprise to the un-initiated that the regulations on crashworthiness of aircraft only deal with ‘survivable’ crashes, and no attention is given to ‘un-survivable’ accidents, which for helicopters is anything over a descent rate of 9.1m/s (30ft/s). This 9.1m/s descent rate is chosen arbitrarily as being the design criterion that the aircraft must meet and keep the G levels experienced by the occupants to safe levels. Any descent rate higher than this is deemed ‘un-survivable’ although there are many examples of higher descent rate helicopter accidents where occupants have survived with only relatively minor injuries due to the use of stroking crashworthy seats.

Hence you might imagine that the regulatory bodies would mandate the use of stroking seats, and we have proposed this to EASA, but as a matter of principle they prefer to leave the aircraft designers to adopt whatever solutions they want to meet the overall G-level targets.

So, by limiting the crashworthiness design criterion to a 9.1m/s Ground Impact Velocity (GIV) the authorities currently ignore the potential to provide protection above this 9.1m/s rate, which we strongly reject as a limit, and we are pushing EASA to re-consider this position.The whole point of our Zero-Zero system is that it is the only physically possible concept that is capable of providing full protection from any descent rate up to 25m/s, which we plan is the maximum that any aircraft will attain under the small drogue parachute in our system. Hence as far as eVTOL’s are concerned we believe that adopting our Zero-Zero system means that essentially there should be NO LOSS OF CONTROL OR POWER LOSS eVTOL ACCIDENTS THAT ARE NOT SURVIVABLE.

In due course we will propose to EASA a new standard based on our system which will provide full protection in a 25m/s descent rate scenario. Since safety is universally agreed to be critical if the eVTOL market is going to attain its full potential, we believe that in due course the validity of the AVCP approach will eventually be recognised, but it may take a few serious accidents that kill or injure people for the industry and the certification authorities to accept it. In practice it may actually be the insurers and relevant city authorities who bear some financial responsibility for the risks that drive the market to this conclusion.

AVCP is currently the only company proposing ‘another way down’ that realistically deals with essentially all the emergency loss-of control scenarios that eVTOL’s will experience that result in an excessive GIV.

The EASA (European Aviation Safety Agency) is soon to publish its first guidance on the use of parachute recovery systems for aircraft.  This will tie in with the forthcoming EUROCAE guidance for Installation of Emergency Descent Arrest Systems on eVTOL Aircraft, which AVCP is responsible for drafting.

As such, now is the key time for ABBS to promote its safety solutions for eVTOL aircraft to the industry and get buy-in from the designers and manufacturers of the aircraft, showing how we can help ensure that practically almost all crashes are survivable.

Both the updated eVTOL Safety System and the new prepreg composite system offer excellent opportunities to establish these products in those parts of the global marketplace currently unaware of them, based on our existing eVTOL market contacts and presence.  We therefore need to ramp up the global marketing of our eVTOL Safety Systems to take advantage of these major opportunities.

Bringing Products to Market

The prepreg composite system has already been certified for use as a battery fire containment system for eVTOL aircraft and is ready to be marketed to eVTOL aircraft designers both as an improved means of protecting the aircraft from battery fires, and for interior panels and components.

Given satisfactory results from the forthcoming Hilux blast testing it is expected that current interest in the solution will result in specific enquiries and sales starting in 2021. Some further development may be required to produce a complete kit for the vehicle which is likely initially to include stroking blast seats, while an active floor system could be a later addition. Also, if required by the customers a form of active impulse counteraction to reduce the jump height/global acceleration level could be developed based on current ABBS knowledge.

The stroking crashworthy aircraft seats will require specific design by our seat supplier to take account of the characteristics demanded by the eVTOL aircraft manufacturers.  These will therefore take a while to bring to market, dependent on the design considerations and regulatory pressure. Again, AVCP is responsible within the EASA/EUROCAE committee framework for drafting a new certification standard for stroking seats for eVTOL’s.

Appointment of KBS Corporate to Pursue Deals with Major Industry Players

Finally, the ABBS Board has decided that the operation has reached the stage where it is deemed appropriate to explore the potential for deals with major aerospace or defence Groups.

  • Specifically, the AVCP Ltd. eVTOL Safety System may be good candidate for a JV or a partial buyout/buy-in by a large aerospace company which has a stroking seat manufacturing operation, and this will be the early focus of the activity with a handful of the obvious potentially interested parties.
  • Equally, given the successful testing of a 6kg-capable belly plate system for the Toyota Hilux there is expected to be a surge of interest later this year from major defence-related operations, and we need to be prepared with options identified and evaluated if this happens.

Hence, we have decided to engage KBS Corporate to prepare fully professional approaches to identified major industry players and assist ABBS in considering any resulting options. Our emphasis will be on generating potential buy-in scenarios, initially for the full Zero-Zero eVTOL safety system, and then later for the armoured vehicle technologies rather than any full buy-out scenarios which would compromise any recent investments under the EIS scheme. Maximising the longer-term returns for our shareholders is always our primary objective.

Join Us to Save Lives

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Interest Grows in our Land Vehicle Protection System

Following the interview by Forces TV we have continued to receive a growing amount of interest in our Land Vehicle Protection System; including an article in Defence Procurement International and approaches from both the Pentagon and UK MOD who are considering a joint funding exercise to further develop the technology.

With the ability to retrofit our solution and proven ability to allow a lightweight snatch land-rover to survive a mine blast test; our innovative approach has proved both popular and a discussion point amongst armed forces personnel.

Our range of protective measures include:

  • VGAM™ - Vehicle Global Acceleration Mitigation – patented Linear Rocket Motors (LRM™) counteract mine blast lifting forces to prevent the vehicle being blown into the air.  These rockets fire within a few milliseconds of a mine blast, counteracting the lifting forces generated by a mine or IED and pushing the vehicle down to keep it grounded.
  • VAFS™ - Vehicle Active Floor System – actuators pull the floor away from occupant’s feet to prevent Floor Shock injuries by ensuring that they are not in contact with the floor.
  • CRBP - Composite Reinforced Belly Plate – a special bellly plate comprised of both steel and composite materials to minimise deformation and reduce impulse transferred to the vehicle, without needing a deep V shaped hull.  This builds on our CEO (Roger Sloman)'s materials expertise - he was the person who introduced the concept of carbon-fibre chassis to Formula One racing cars in the 1970s.

We are excited to see that finally our aim of providing Technology that Saves Lives is now being recognised on a global scale.

Interview by Forces TV

In 2020, Roger Sloman, the CEO of Advanced Blast & Ballistic Systems Limited was interviewed by Forces TV about the ABBS approach to vehicle protection.

The video appeared on YouTube and had over 35,000 views in just 24 hours, with the vast majority of comments being from people who appreciate the need for such a solution; particularly those who have been involved (or are involved) in the armed services.

This certainly helps to motivate us as we strive to bring this product to the field and continue to develop Technology that Saves Lives.

New US Army GVSC Order for Linear Rocket Motors for Test.

ABBS has received a new $268,000 order for LRM's for testing in the USA later this year under the ongoing Co-operative R&D Agreement (CRADA) which was extended for a further three years in October 2019. The intention of the CRADA is to develop the ABBS technology to the Technology Readiness Level 6 (TRL6) when the product is deemed suitable for testing on potential vehicle programmes.

ABBS Wins New UK R&D Funding For Light Vehicle Mine Blast Protection.

A new £219,000 Innovate UK project to develop 6kg underbelly mine blast capability for light vehicles such as Toyota Land Cruisers has started on 1st January 2020. Both active and passive systems will be used to minimise belly plate deformation and Global Acceleration to prevent any serious injuries to the vehicle occupants.