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Marshall Aerospace installs cockpit protection for NATO Super Hercules fleet

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Marshall Aerospace has successfully certified and installed lightweight high-tenacity polyethylene cockpit armour from QinetiQ on a NATO Air Force fleet of C-130J-30 Super Hercules airlifters.

The cockpit of a Royal Air Force C-130 Hercules
The cockpit of a Royal Air Force C-130 Hercules

The in-service use of the new lightweight armour follows the signing of an exclusive agreement in July 2020 to market, sell and install LAST Armor LWA from QinetiQ, at the same time making Marshall Aerospace the first company able to certify the armour on the C-130 platform.

QinetiQ Inc is based in Lorton, Virginia. The security and defence contractor has its UK base in Farnborough, Hampshire.

Its LAST Armor LWA range helps protect the crew against ballistic (small arms) attacks. The armour is manufactured from high tenacity polyethylene, making it extremely robust, and approximately 380kg (840lbs) lighter than the previous generation LAST Armor solution.

The weight reduction saves fuel, reduces the impact on the aircraft’s centre of gravity and allows the C-130-30 variant its full cargo-carrying capacity. Despite its weight reduction compared to the previous solution, the range offers air crew the same protection as the previous LAST Armor.

A NATO Air Force representative said: “It was an easy decision to work together with Marshall Aerospace to certify and install the LAST Armor LWA onto our fleet of C-130Js. The level of protection from the armour provides a greater probability of mission success in harsh environments or potential conflicts and has promoted confidence in our aircrew.

An RAF Hercules taking part in Exercise Lions Dawn
An RAF Hercules taking part in Exercise Lions Dawn

“The new armour is less than half the weight of its predecessor which not only makes it easy to install, but has helped to save fuel, reduce the impact on the aircraft’s centre of gravity and allowed for full cargo-carrying capacity across our fleet, while still meeting the same ballistic requirement as QinetiQ’s previous LAST Armor.”

The new armour is a tool-free installation design that minimizes aircraft downtime and maximizes crucial military aircraft availability.

The modular design also enables damaged panels to be easily replaced while in operation without having to replace the entire system.

Andrew Smith, project manager at Marshall Aerospace, said: “We’re delighted to have been able to offer this cutting-edge lightweight armour solution that is far more durable and easier to install onto the aircraft.

“Crew safety is paramount and critical to mission success and we’re pleased to be able to provide this important capability to the air crew through our exclusive partnership with QinetiQ.’’

LAST Armor’s environmental coatings ensures that the armour remains relatively inert throughout its service life, even when operating within the harshest of environments.

The protection is used on a variety of military tactical vehicles including fixed and rotary wing aircraft and naval vessels. Both modular and permanent solutions can be easily installed without any tools – and it is five times stronger than commercial hook and loop products.

Marshall Aerospace Defence Group is a world leader on the maintenance of C-130 Hercules aircraft, with contracts in more than 10 countries.

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