The Army’s heavy lift workhorse the CH-47F Chinook, affectionately known as the Chook, will soon receive an upgrade to its ballistic protection, improving the survivability of the aircraft and crew.
Australian-based Craig International Ballistics, a specialist manufacturer of lightweight protective armour systems, was recently awarded a contract to provide advanced armour protection on the Chinook heavy-lift transport helicopters.
Five sets of removable armour were delivered to Townsville last month and will provide protection to the cockpit and main cabin area of the Army's Chinook helicopters to protect the crew and passengers from any small arms fire encountered during combat operations.
Chief executive James Craig said, “The Australian Army has exceptionally demanding operational requirements. Being able to meet these reflects the unique capabilities our company has built up to be able to continually innovate and then efficiently manufacture affordable, leading-edge ballistic protection armour.”
To meet this need, Craig International Ballistics has developed an advanced new design for helicopter ballistic protection armour that is considerably lighter, thinner and potentially more durable than similar armour panels fitted previously. This complex design carefully integrates Honeywell Spectra Shield composite fibre materials with boron carbide ceramics and Rhino Linings REXAR protective coatings. Given their critical importance to saving lives, the armour panels have been rigorously tested and independently certified as meeting the highest Australian and international standards.
Craig International Ballistic’s strong focus on continuous innovation to meet the Army’s demands for the most effective ballistic protection armour is matched by the company’s emphasis on smart manufacturing. Supporting this objective, Craig International Ballistics has created a state-of-the-art facility at Arundel in Queensland that includes digital conveyorised cutting equipment, x-ray equipment, computer controlled machines and heavy-duty hydraulic presses.
With a highly skilled workforce of more than 30 engineers, technicians, machine operators and support staff, this modern facility produced some 150,000 ballistic protection products last year. Craig International Ballistic’s strong investment in smart manufacturing continues with a new automated hydraulic press recently installed to support production of the ballistic armour for the Chinook and other military aircraft.
"The armour we are making now is not only a new industrial capability for Australia to have, it provides us with various other options for integration with existing or planned land and maritime projects like protected vehicles or the future frigates," said Craig.
Craig International Ballistics is the foremost Australian manufacturer of lightweight protective armour systems. Since 1999, the company’s products have protected Australian Defence Force personnel – including Australia’s elite Special Forces – on combat operations in East Timor, Iraq and Afghanistan.