The Army wants to defeat current and future armor at extended range.
For American inventor Howard D. Kent, increasing higher operating pressure of ammunition and weapons is the answer.
Improved performance of small arms is a critical need for major militaries. Piercing enemy armor will bring an over-match capability similar to British troops fighting Maasai warriors in East Africa in the late 19th Century —armed with spears and no body armor, charging towards machine guns.
To prove his hypothesis, Kent undertook a series of tests that took into account advanced materials of future body armor, strength of projectiles and commonly-available materials that can complicate penetration.
He presented his findings at a defense industry forum in Fredericksburg, Virginia, early June.
Near peer armor of Russia and China were the main testing subjects for Kent and his colleague, retired Special Forces commander Thomas Beckstrand. Kent noted “pressure to penetrate armor is way-way up.”
Therefore, increasing the energy of penetrators is a solution that works well with improved launch mechanisms.
However, Kent observed projectiles break upon impact, concluding that stronger materials in projectile production is also key.
“Driving it harder and faster is only part of the answer,” he said. Beckstrand and Kent recommend a shift away from brass towards “steel and polymers” which operate better at higher pressures.
Kent is satisfied with his findings. "I never designed a bullet before, but the first one I did fired very nicely against armor.” But he’s cautious about their impact.
He warned of the ease with which enemies can upgrade their armor with readily available materials. Early on in the Iraq War, he went with California Rep. “Duncan Hunter to the Home Depot and made home depot armor."
We got “two layers of bathroom tile wrapped in Kevlar so I wouldn’t get fragged” and that was “killing the bullet."
He warned that "we’ve really gotta work on our stuff because If you could stop bullets with a flash light, a flash light? Dear god.”