The large numbers of wheeled Mine Protected, Ambush Resistant (MRAP) vehicles being fielded around the world are excellent at protecting their occupants from blast, fragments, and small arms fire. These rapidly fielded vehicles share one critical problem: very high centers of gravity (CG) that makes them prone to rolling over.
Rollover accidents have caused a large percentage of the injuries and vehicle damage suffered by MRAPs while in service. One of the contributing factors is the armored gunner's protection systems, or turrets, that are located on top of the vehicle. These steel and aluminum assemblies often weigh many hundreds of pounds, exacerbating the CG problem.
This idea is for a gunner's protection system revised to be as minimal as possible and fabricated from composites to reduce the topside weight. In basic shape, the turret will be a pair of nested cylinders of high tensile strength composite. Each will have a forty-five degree flair, the outer at the base and the inner at the top with the inner tube raised sufficiently to affixed optic prisms to the upper lip of the inner wall. With a similar prism at the bottom inside of the outer wall, these will form lightweight, protected observation devices while at the same time taking advantage of the “spaced armor” effect (ballistic “bullet proof” glass is extremely heavy).
The system will utilize the existing standard turret race ring, and incorporate a weapon mounting point that can accept all NATO standard weapons with a rudimentary fire control system. Ready ammunition feed, electronics, and a platform for the gunner's seat are all located below the turret ring connected by a frame that rests on a slip-ring bearing on the hull floor, again to lower weight and CG as much as possible.
The ad-hoc, often improvised history of the gunner protection systems on up-armored vehicles have saved many lives, but they also cause a CG problem. It is time for a new, more considered and engineered approach that can provide protection and effective use while minimizing the roll over vulnerability of MRAPs.
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