Air Force engineers at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, are working on a new transparent armor—made stronger and lighter than traditional armor—that may be able to stop armor-piercing weapons from penetrating windows. The Air Force Research Lab’s materials and manufacturing directorate, in conjunction with the Army Research Laboratory at Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Md., and the University of Dayton Research Institute, is testing an aluminum oxynitride as a replacement for the old multi-layered glass now used in both ground vehicles and aircraft. AFRL officials say the material has performed well against multiple hits from .30 caliber Russian M-44 sniper rifles and a .50 caliber Browning Sniper Rifle with armor piercing bullets. Testing against improvised explosive devices is in the works as well, according to 1st Lt. Joseph La Monica, the project’s sub-direction lead.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.