SAAB Bofors Dynamics Customer Conference

Barracuda Signature Management, a SAAB company, held their Customer Conference on 21-22 May 2014 in Sweden. These conferences are held periodically, when management feels they have significant products to showcase. This conference in particular had a large amount of interest to the small arms community. There were numerous presentations by scholars and engineers from the company, as well as a few marketers. As we all know, the marketers are frequently more exciting and dynamic presenters, while an engineer might give you the real depth of the program he’s working but leave you longing for the coffee and snack table. All told, the attendees had their attention held by all of the speakers, and I was impressed with how much interaction was occurring between the speakers and the attendees after the presentations. That is a good sign of matching the interests of the attendees.

A number of SAAB affiliated companies were showing products at the show:

Barracuda Soft Armor

First and foremost to the community- the Barracuda Soft Armor System was showcased. This is the “Ceramic ball” system that has been growing in prominence over the last few years. For our purposes, the Soft Armor was the most interesting product, with a very informative presentation. Some attendees expressed a desire to live fire a belt fed machine gun into a Soft Armor target, however, the venue did not lend itself to firing weapons- it would have terrified both the waterfowl and the local inhabitants. This writer has extensive experience with this Soft Armor, having fired thousands of rounds of 7.62x51mm in fully automatic fire at backstops that are frighteningly thin, and not one single round ever made it even close to getting through the backstop. This is a truly
impressive product.

It’s a very simple product in many ways. Soft Armor consists of pellets of approximate 13mm diameter (1/2 inch), and they are made of aluminum dioxide and silicon dioxide. This patented mixture is mold proof, does not absorb moisture, and is static until fired upon with a projectile or fragment of a mortar round. When a projectile penetrates the outer layer, it comes into contact with the ceramic pellets, which become unsettled and fluid, tumbling around the projectile until it comes to a halt. Directly hit pellets are crushed, absorbing energy, and the remaining energy from the projectile is distributed throughout the other pellets. This is often described as similar to the effect of one ball in billiards striking many others, which absorb and distribute the divided energy. In effect, one will observe some pellets crushed to powder by the projectiles and almost instantly replaced by others around them, as the projectile is diverted off-trajectory and energy is spread throughout the assembly. A 200 round burst from a belt-fed weapon, aimed into the same area, will not penetrate!

The Barracuda Soft Armor can be put into various containers- from purpose built walls and sentry points to cloth bags for fast up-armoring ship or vehicles. “Hardening” walls becomes easier in a retrofit, by filling existing walls with the ceramics (allowing for studs and structural supports must be taken into account of course). The thickness of the ceramic pellet mass will dictate the protection level.

Barracuda- Mobile Camouflage System

The Mobile Camouflage System (MCS) can be adapted to any platform, vehicle, container or equipment that needs Stealth capabilities. The unique capability includes a possibility of lowering total fuel consumption by up to 25%. This is a multispectral, multi-layer mobile system. The MCS also can provide a cooling effect in hot climates. This flexible system is used in order to protect the vehicle while moving, and can be made of a number of different materials. It is easy to attach using systems of Velcro, straps or existing bolts on the vehicle, which Barracuda will design for. The materials are flame resistant- self-extinguishing and no bromated chemicals are used. The systems are designed for 1-2 years in service, with a shelf life of ten years in storage in controlled conditions.

Spectral Performance of the MCS:
Visual (Camouflaged)
NIR = 0.7 -2.5 µm
TIR = 3-5 µm and 8-12 µm
Radar = 1 GHz – 100 GHz

Mobile Camouflage System in green
Camouflage tents that were shown were much more than just “Camouflaged.” The observation posts/tents are an example of “Multi-Spectral Signature Management.” This simply means that the device used- in this case a tent- has properties that camouflage it from observation on a variety of levels. Visually blending into the environment, and in this case, having chemical and construction qualities that mask the tent from thermal opto-electronics. As we used to say “Camouflage is more than painting your face green, it’s appearing to be something other than what you are.” With Barracuda’s Signature Management, the tent appears to be a continuation of its surroundings- an outcropping on the ground, perhaps- with a similar thermal footprint as well as blending in visually.
Mobile Camouflage System in desert coloring
Decoy vehicles: 1192, 1208 – Barracuda was utilizing realistic, lightweight decoys of military vehicles for “Faking out” the enemy observers in their display. These were quite well done, and this writer overheard several attendees refer to the “vehicle” as if it was real, when they were at a distance and then remark and laugh about how it “Fooled them” when they got closer. The “Vehicles” serve another purpose- which Barracuda utilized here at the show- using it as an easy prop to showcase other products. Here, the team is putting the “Vehicle” into place, and then it is shown with the Mobile Camouflage System installed. It’s a lot easier to export and import these fake vehicles to trade shows and exhibitions, much like many accessory manufacturers will send AirSoft replica guns to a show.