In the ongoing and never ending quest to reduce carried weight and bulk the British company RTL has developed a material with a number of defence related applications.
RolaTube is a brand name for their flagship product, otherwise known as a ‘bi-stable reeled composite’
Toughness, low weight, longitudinal stiffness (stop sniggering at the back) and low bulk characterise the material and they have been exploring military uses such as communications masts, ladders and stretchers for example.
The video above shows a 5m communications mast and the 3m version below
Things get a little more complicated with the 8m version as it needs two or three people, unlike the ubiquitous 8m PU mast from Clarke Masts but the weight seems to be much less although the heaviest component is the pins and sledge hammer which don’t have much scope for weight reduction.
The tubes can be combined, powered or unpowered and newer developments include embedded sensors and even embedded antennas, power and fibre optic cables; all clever stuff I think you will agree.
Embedding power, fibre optic data (twisted pair or coax) cables is especially interesting because much of the weight of cables used in communications masts is used for making them rugged, resistant to temperature variation or for shielding. By embedding the cable in the structure of the mast much of this weight can be eliminated, it might not sound like much but every little helps.
Embedding the antenna might also reduce yet more weight.
Rolatube have also looked at stretchers, ladders and short gap crossing systems all combined in a single package, let’s hope it is more successful than the last time the MoD went all hi tech with Gucci ladders.
Have a read of the Rolatube general presentation below
Yet more innovation from a small UK defence company, bloody fantastic.