‘Steel Foam’ Could Be The Next Thing Used On US Tanks

This may be the latest and greatest technology for the US military. The composite material offers dramatic weight savings and increased protection from shock and fires.

Researchers have discovered that composite metal foam offers greater protection than traditional armor steel plate. And at a third of the weight, which is huge. This could mean big things for armored vehicles. It could result in stronger, lighter vehicles that would be better able to protect occupants from impacts of kinetic weapons, explosive shockwaves, and fires.

Popular Mechanics reports that Scientists at North Carolina State University and the US Army’s Aviation Applied Technology Directorate have invented what they call Composite Metal Foam (CMF).

“Metal foam” is exactly what you think it is — metal with sponge-like holes in it. CMF is lighter than normal metal and also gives slightly under impact. CMF is also heat resistant, remarkably good at deflecting blast waves, and weighs three times less than traditional rolled homogeneous armor (RHA) steel plate used in tanks and armored vehicles. That is a lot of benefits over regular steel, right?

Back in 2016, Popular Mechanics described an early test involving the material and an M2.30 caliber armor piercing bullet. The bullet, delivering 2,780 foot-pounds of energy against a block of CMF less than one inch thick, shattered on impact. The same bullet was stopped by a one-half inch of dense armor plate.

Do you think this would be a valuable resource to the military? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!