8 glass technologies shaping the future of the U.S. Armed Forces

U.S. Soldiers are deployed in 150 countries around the globe, prevailing in combat in Afghanistan, training security forces in Iraq, providing NATO and allied support to dampen tensions in Eastern Europe, and helping fight the Ebola epidemic in West Africa. On each of these fronts, the warfighter needs tactical vehicles equipped with the newest and most effective defense technology: stronger, lighter armor; better situational awareness; and reliable electronics and communications systems that allow more fluid Soldier-to-Soldier contact no matter where they’re located.

The Association of the U.S. Army’s (AUSA) 2014 Annual Meeting gathered defense industry manufacturers and military leaders to discuss the Army’s sustainment strategy as it works to maintain a delicate balance of readiness, modernization, and manpower in light of the defense budget.

The U.S. Army has focused its strategy on modernizing its current fleet of vehicles by improving platforms, subsystems, and components. Any improvements that reduce the size, weight, and power (SWaP) of systems while maintaining strength and integrity within a tactical vehicle can generate savings for the U.S. Army. Traditional glass components can add a lot of weight to tactical vehicles, but new lightweight, high-quality glass materials are working their way onboard these vehicles, reducing weight and increasing mobility while offering Soldiers new advantages.

This newest class of vehicle technologies was on display at AUSA. Here are eight applications of advanced technology that enables vehicles to better serve and protect our Soldiers.

Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) – The U.S. Army aims to replace a third of its Humvee fleet with light tactical vehicles, and the Army and Marine Corps combined plan is to purchase about 55,000 JLTVs. SCHOTT provides high performance, transparent armor that reduces overall vehicle weight while maintaining high levels of protection and clarity of the windows.

Ground Mobility Vehicle (GMV) – Similar transparent armor technology is also being introduced on this all-terrain vehicle for the U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM). The windows’ low weight allows GMVs to remain versatile enough to meet a wide range of specific mission sets.

Apache helicopter – Glass materials and components in Apache helicopters, such as hermetic electronic packaging that uses glass-to-metal seals and high homogeneity optical glass for the advanced electro-optical fire control system, help pilots control the helicopters and identify targets in day, night, and adverse-weather missions, enhancing situational awareness.

Common Remotely Operated Weapon Station (CROWS) – CROWS allows Soldiers to acquire and engage targets while inside a vehicle, protected by its armor without exposure to hostile fire. IR glass for thermal imaging cameras aids situational awareness and target acquisition within the CROWS system, which is designed to mount on a variety of vehicle platforms.

Night vision systems – Night vision goggles enable Soldiers to “own the night” and SCHOTT continues to supply and develop glass, infrared filters, and fiber optics materials that trim the size and weight of these devices.

Touchscreen communication – Anti-reflective coatings enhance the contrast of high-resolution displays, but their usage in touch applications suffers when fingerprints are visible on the surface of such low-reflective glass. Conturan Daro is a new glass coating combination with durable anti-reflective, anti-fingerprint, and anti-smudge (oleo- and hydrophobic) characteristics that could improve vehicle-mounted systems, command post screens, chest-mounted computers, and smartwatches.

Unmanned ground vehicles and arrays – Multispectral glass technology can reduce the number of apertures (lens sets) needed on an unmanned ground vehicle or equipment such as dual-band focal band arrays, thus reducing SWaP by offering designers a range of new possibilities.

Opaque armor – Uses for SCHOTT specialty glass materials go beyond vehicle windshield, windows, and headlights to applications like opaque armor kits that protect against EFP and RPG threats. This glass-based armor technology can be integrated in different vehicle applications in which situational awareness is less of a concern, but safety and lightweight materials are vital.

As defense leaders approach the next generation of vehicles with a new budget, they look to technologies that offer Soldiers more capabilities while reducing the overall cost and SWaP. This mission is aided in part by glass components, from armor to optics to communications systems, on which the U.S. Armed Forces will build their future.

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Hi, I’m Rina Della Vecchia, Marketing Communications Manager for SCHOTT North America. I manage the internal and external marketing and communications efforts for the SCHOTT corporate office, as well as our eight business units. I’ve been a part of the SCHOTT team for more than six years, but before joining the company, I worked in the trade show management industry and prior to that I conducted philanthropy work for the Westchester Philharmonic. I earned my bachelor’s degree from Pace University. On a more personal note, I’m a summer-loving girl and can spends hours on the beach. My husband and I also enjoy spending time outdoors, traveling, and trying new restaurants.

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