Permali BattleJacket® Self-Sealing Fuel Tank Protection Coating Saves Lives and the Environment

Permali is a long established UK MoD (Ministry of Defence) approved supplier of advanced material solutions for protecting British Armed Forces, NATO and UN land, air and sea military personnel. The company’s extensive product offering of advanced composites and propriety Tufshield® polyurethane based surface coatings, also includes the production under licence of the BattleJacket® self-sealing elastomeric coating system; being self-sealing, if penetrated, BattleJacket helps to protect military vehicle fuel tanks and tankers from catastrophic fires and explosions occurring. As well as protecting combat personnel, it avoids vehicles under attack becoming immobilised in the operational theatre due to fuel leakage from a ruptured tank.

BattleJacket is a patented, advanced polymer coating technology that immediately closes up and literally ‘heals’ itself when pierced by a bullet or high velocity projectile, such as shrapnel from an IED (improvised explosive device) or land mine. The multi-layered elastomeric system is designed to allow projectiles to pass through the polyurethane coating into the fuel tank, and then instantaneously reseals. The thickness of coating can be tailored to meet specific ballistic threat levels.

The BattleJacket coating is compatible with CARC (Chemical Agent Resistant Coating) two-component polyurethane paint, better known as camouflage paint. This unique, triple layered specialist outer protective coating system is spray applied to safety critical metal, plastic and composite parts, such as fuel tanks and fuel lines in helicopters.

BattleJacket was developed by High Impact Technology, LLC. (HIT) for the US Army to provide added protection from high velocity projectile damage and fire for both armoured combat and logistical support military vehicles, including land and aircraft refuelling tankers. It is a battle proven protective coating technology with nearly 20 years of service in US Army and other military applications around the world.

In addition to being self-healing, BattleJacket can withstand up to 150 psi (10 bar) pressure and provides enhanced impact, abrasion, corrosion and environmental resistance against extremes of temperature (-50°C to 150°C) and UV weathering. Applications for HIT’s unique urethane polymer coating system now extend beyond the Defence sector, protecting civil structures and products such as fuel cells, holding tanks, pipelines, and railcars.

Before entering into the licencing partnership with HIT, Permali conducted rigorous, environmental testing, along with both small arms ballistic and hand grenade explosion resistance trials to assess and approve the performance of HIT’s BattleJacket coating technology. The performance evaluation was conducted over five days on the Radnor Ranges in Shropshire; Radnor is a UK MoD accredited independent test house for the evaluation of weapons, ordnance, munitions and explosive. All the Radnor Ranges testing trials were witnessed by representatives from Permali, HIT and the UK Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) executive agency, which is sponsored by the MoD.

The environmental and ballistic testing was carried on MoD specification metal and polymer heavy goods vehicle ‘saddle’ fuel tanks; ahead of the trials, two of each type of test fuel tank were manufactured by Permali and then shipped to HIT to be triple layer coated with BattleJacket. To determine the system’s environmental performance, prior to carrying out ballistic and explosive trials, the fuel tanks were first conditioned by being subjecting to temperature extremes from -15°C to ambient and then +70°C.

The ballistic and explosive trials conducted tested the small arms performance of BattleJacket against various types of ballistic and fragment threat impacts, and its explosive resistance to a hand grenade detonated only 300mm below the coated tank. BattleJacket repair patches were also tested to evaluate their capability to stem fuel leakage from an exit hole, which provided a near instantaneous seal.

Dr Pete Webb, Director of Research and Development for Permali, who developed the tests, commented: “Under all environmental conditions, the Battlejacket coating performed extremely well during the ballistic and blast assessment. The coating demonstrated good multi-hit capabilities and provided a near instantaneous damp seal, with dry seals being formed typically within four minutes. For the hand grenade explosive trials, no leaks were observed post detonation, with both the plastic and metal fuel tank remaining fully functional.”

An added benefit of having military vehicles, particularly fuel tankers, additionally protected by the Battlejacket coating is that it can help the environment by preventing unwanted gasoline or diesel fuel soil and water contamination from leaks or major spillages after a catastrophic incident. According to HIT technical data, BattleJacket is Title 40 Section 112 (Oil Pollution Prevention) compliant, which is a specification requirement for onshore petroleum oil handling and storage facilities to prevent contamination discharges of oil from non-transportation-related onshore and offshore facilities.

Permali designs, manufactures and supplies a vast range of bespoke FRP composite panels, components and systems for a wide range of safety critical military and civil land, sea and air applications. The Permali product range also includes standard and bespoke Tuftane® aromatic thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) elastic films.