Saab Barracuda Soft Armour

The Barracuda Modular Soft Armour System (formerly Protaurius ) employs a matrix of ceramic balls to provide protection against small arms and automatic weapons up to STANAG Level III and beyond by increasing the thickness.

An interesting product from Saab.

The Barracuda Modular Soft Armour System (formerly from Protaurius ) employs a matrix of ceramic balls to provide protection against small arms and automatic weapons up to STANAG Level III and beyond by increasing the thickness of the containing structure. The balls also stop ricochets and the containers can be refilled as needed.

It looks like a neat solution for rapid deployment and situations where steel plate, composites, sand bags or Hesco/Defencell are not suitable. At 180kg per M2 it is not as lightweight as the more exotic composites but still much lighter than concrete.

[tabs] [tab title=”Image 1″]

Soft Armour 01[/tab] [tab title=”Image 2″]

Soft Armour 02[/tab] [tab title=”Image 3″]

Soft Armour 03[/tab] [/tabs]

The videos below show firing trials using different weapons and ammunition with images from fragmentation tests

[tabs] [tab title=”Video 1″]

[/tab] [tab title=”Video 2″]

[/tab] [tab title=”RPG”]

Soft Armour 04[/tab] [tab title=”Fragmentation”]

Soft Armour 05[/tab] [/tabs]

It is less likely to be used on vehicles but more so as a demountable solution combined as necessary with RPG screens.

[tabs] [tab title=”Structure 1″]

Soft Armour13[/tab] [tab title=”Structure 2″]

Soft Armour21[/tab] [tab title=”Structure 3″]

Soft Armour34[/tab] [/tabs]

A webbing container can also be used for small spaces

[tabs] [tab title=”Webbing “]

Soft Armour05[/tab] [tab title=”Webbing 2″]

Soft Armour09[/tab] [tab title=”Webbing 3″]

Soft Armour10[/tab] [tab title=”Webbing 4″]

Soft Armour12[/tab] [/tabs]

There is of course, a solution for containers and other portable structures

[tabs] [tab title=”Container 1″]

Soft Armour27[/tab] [tab title=”Container 2″]

Soft Armour28[/tab] [/tabs]

So not a replacement for any one method, but another option for those looking at defence engineering and force protection.

Read more at Saab



Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
January 20, 2015 9:01 am

But why isn’t this just very expensive sand?
I imagine some of the protection comes from the willingness of the balls so shuggle around, and ceramic is probably harder than silicon, but really?

A Different Gareth
A Different Gareth
January 20, 2015 10:25 am

I guess they’ve been to Lakeland: Ceramic baking beans

Video 1 shows a problem – that of the beans becoming more tightly ordered with vibration. A gap in the protection started appearing at the top of the panel.

January 20, 2015 10:46 am

The Victorians did even urban sprawl (not just infrastructure) better than us. South of the Thames the Blitz bomb damage on buildings hit by bombs falling very close to them defied the received wisdom on what structural damage should have been.
– so many houses had been built on these sorts of ball bearings, even if the rivers that produced them have long since dried up (some went underground, too)

So Barracuda is a whole brand (by Saab) now, their infrared nets (not just camouflaging the heat generated inside,but also deflecting what is coming in in hot conditions) have been around for decades

January 20, 2015 11:25 am


I think the collapse is due to consumption of the ceramic beads. They are being broken into powder in absorbing the energy, but the remainder remain inflexibly packed in body-centred-cubic and drop down.

Didnt know that. Cool.

The ancient Pagoda has a neat trick too. Wonder if there is a role for that in a blast-resistent structure.

January 20, 2015 11:49 am

Without changing to a different continent, the Swedish army tested igloos as artillery shelters

An igloo taking a 105mm hit would shatter’ but the air in the ice would dissipate the blast. So, if you had a truck (a tank would do, too) inside, it would be ready to roll (saves building a door).

Of course, building igloos that big required a lake next to you. A workable, but not a practical idea.

January 20, 2015 12:27 pm

How do the ball bearings react with explosions? The last thing you need is more shrapnel coming your way.

January 20, 2015 12:59 pm

I remember building a “shovel up” as a child, as there was just a couple of inches of snow around, and ice blocks were definitely unavailable.

You get a spade and scrape and pile wet snow into a big mound.
Then you excavate a tunnel into the mound, and shovel the debris out on top, where it “sets”. Then repeat and repeat, as far as you dare, until the original solid mound is expanded into a rather shabby, lumpy dome (“igloo”).

Sitting inside (which was amazing, given it had been a pile of snow an hour before) you can see through the roof. Even more so, you can walk and jump on top of it without it breaking or you falling through.
Magic. And good protection too.

Can you build these by hot air blowing (wet) snow over a pneumatic mould?
Its the heat-and-refreeze which makes it solid, and which you would have to address in (dry) arctic snow.

Just a thought. May be strong enough and you don’t need a lake.

John Hartley
John Hartley
January 20, 2015 7:32 pm

Would not pea gravel be cheaper?

Pete Arundel
Pete Arundel
January 20, 2015 11:50 pm

Pea gravel set in bitumen, perhaps? Use the ratios 55% granite, 38% limestone and 7% bitumen and you have Mr Terrells formula for protecting merchant ships.

January 21, 2015 5:33 am

Once again, how would these react to an explosion, for example, a hit by a HE 25mm round or RPG or 40mm GL?

Would you end up with high velocity stone chips flying out the other end? Flaming bitumen?

January 21, 2015 7:40 am

Why limestone?

The Other Chris
January 21, 2015 7:41 am

You do not want powdered limestone in the vicinity of your troops eyes.

January 21, 2015 10:56 am

Found mention of Terrell’s invention in this article from Wikipedia.
Fantastic story, with parallels to Harrison’s watches (see Longitude by Dava Sobel).

Can someone make a film of it please?

PS still don’t see why limestone’s included, unless its just lighter/cheaper than all granite.

January 21, 2015 12:36 pm

I have just read the article on the plastic armour ,very good cheap solution to a deadly problem, German aircraft and e- boats machine gunning merchant ships deckhouses. The inventor,Mr Terrell , was originally a Barrister before the war and had dealings then with the Penlee Quarry company in which he later acquired shares. He insisted to the Admiralty that the Penlee granite be used . “Terrell, who owned shares in the company, would go on to insist that Penlee granite be used for plastic armour, whatever its material qualities”

John Hartley
John Hartley
January 21, 2015 8:12 pm

I think I read that at the end of WW2, the Japanese were short of materials, so they armoured the deck of a carrier with a mixture of concrete mixed with sawdust & rubber, to give it flexibility.

The Other Chris
January 21, 2015 8:21 pm

Some of the early Fanhui Shi Weixing re-entry vehicles used oak for their ablative heat shields.

Ace Rimmer
January 22, 2015 2:01 pm

I was wondering if they could develop a lightweight version to infill the voids in aircraft structure to allow ballistic protection for the crew, passengers and systems. Suitably bagged they could also provide particle damping for helicopters…..

…food for thought.

Steven C
Steven C
September 9, 2015 5:11 pm
Reply to  Ant

The question of sand vs ceramic balls may center around another question. “How thick of a wall of sand do you need to reliably stop a bullet compared to the thickness of a wall of ceramic balls”. One Youtube video stated you need 240mm thick wall to stop a FMJ .50 BMG round and 300mm thickness to stop AP .50 BMG (Fired at 100 yard distance). I do not know how much sand one needs to accomplish the same task.

Another question, may be weight. How much does the ceramic balls weigh compared to sand? Moisture in the walls (in a civilian environment), creepy crawlies, etc.

Balance all of these questions against cost? Sand is cheaper than ceramic balls.