back to article Brit firm stops anti-tank warheads with cloth

Cunning new UK technology will see British troops' vehicles in Afghanistan protected from armour-piercing rocket warheads - by cloth. The MoD was pleased yesterday to unveil its new TARIAN "textile based" vehicle protection system, which will see lightweight cloth attached to the sides of military vehicles in Afghan combat. …


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  1. Wolf Clostermann

    Is it just me ...

    or is a simple work-around to this just to fire an incendiary round first to burn the shit out of the cloth layer, and THEN hit it with an RPG?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    and you presume it's flammable?

  3. MarcF

    @Wolf Clostermann

    Don't you think they would have thought of that? I highly doubt they will use "cloth" susceptible to flame.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Banging on empty barrels

    Protection against shaped charge devices by forcing premature proximate detonation by way of netting or whatnot has been known and used for years. So what is new here? Cloth? Brit firm? Empty barrel?

  5. Robert Grant Silver badge


    Yeah I hear they're using shell suit material. They considered non-flammable materials, but thought they didn't look cool.

    Good spot.

  6. The Indomitable Gall


    "is it just me or is a simple work-around to this just to fire an incendiary round first to burn the shit out of the cloth layer, and THEN hit it with an RPG?"

    One might imagine that an armament manufacturer might base such a technology on a non-flammable textile...

  7. Anonymous Coward


    Aren't flame retardant materials pretty common these days?

    What I'd do is chuck a huge load of ninja throwing stars at 'em first, to rip it to shreds. :)

  8. Dork Lard

    re. Is it just me ...

    I think their "cloth" might be fairly flame-resistant; the company also makes things like airbags for automotive use and smoke-curtains for aircraft.

    Flames (hopefully not though)

  9. Rob 30

    @Is it just me

    i imagine this super high tech cloth is fireproof, shirley.

  10. Bumpy Cat


    But for the incendiary-then-shaped-charge idea to work, you either have to have a very well-engineered dual-warhead rocket (which is no longer cheap and easily available) or hit the vehicle in the exact spot that your first warhead burned through the cloth layer.

  11. Aitor 1

    Burning? nope

    My guess is that this "cloth" is fire resistant, and mainly made of cordura or a stronger fiber... along with fire retardants.

  12. Niall 1

    This explains why

    all the women in Afghanistan wear burkas.

  13. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

    In related news

    British Forces in Afganistan, in an apparent nod to the local customs, put burkas on their fighting vehicles.

  14. Peter Fielden-Weston 2

    Always said

    my old greatcoat would stop a bullet.

    The one with ceramic tiles in the pockets

  15. Anonymous Coward

    Lewis? Complimentary? WTF?

    Hey Lewis, are you feeling OK? I do believe this is the first article I've seen penned by you which is complimentary, rather than distinctly disparaging! A change for the better - more please!

  16. Ron Luther


    I'll wager the vertical stripes could be quite slimming for your armoured kit!

  17. Martin 6 Silver badge

    Carry on up the Kyber

    So we are basically fitting tanks with Kilts!

  18. Ferry Boat

    It's a wrap

    Does the cloth protection work twice? So, if they fire one RPG then another, will the second be also stopped? I suppose what I'm trying to say is does the cloth get damaged by the first RPG? You'd think it would, wouldn't you?

  19. Anonymous Coward

    Machine gun first, RPG later

    This has been tried in a different war at a different time.

    The predecessor of wire bars was stand-off ceramic plating developed by Russians and Germans in WW2. It was abandoned for a very simple reason - machine guns could easily damage it to a point where it will no longer protect against sabots and shaped charges.

    So in fact it is a bit too early to say goodbye to good old wire bars and hello to cloth ones.

    Granade... Old fashioned one (in the absence of RPG17 icon).

  20. Martin Lyne

    See Icon

    See title

    (There's no way it's not flame retardant though)

    I never knew RPGs were shaped charges, always thought they were "dumb".

    Does it work against CBU-97 skeets?

  21. Peter2 Silver badge

    Re Is it just me ...

    You'd hope that they have specified fire retardant cloth.

    The more relevant question would seem to be how many warheads it can take before being torn into shreds and a comparison with the bars.

  22. Marvin the Martian

    Will still not help against my BFG9000


    As for "first incendiary, then detonator, then piercing" round as proposed by Clostermann --- well, that's making it all rather fragile and complicated (if you realize the average weapon is an IED, this may be too much engineering and retrofitting effort).

    It wouldn't normally work, as it wouldn't get the protection out of the way fast enough. So you want a small explosive that pushes the protection away, then the detonator-plus-piercer... both to be delivered in the same place, close after each other but not too close. You're in Quake-weapons territory with that.

  23. Alan Esworthy

    Best protection

    The best protection of course would be to bring the troops home.

  24. Cameron Colley

    RE: Is it just me ...

    Unless, of course, they do something tricky like use flame retardant or fireproof fabric.

  25. Anonymous Coward

    I look forward to the day...

    ..when I can wear RPG proof trousers. Not that I have any need for them where I live as RPGs flying through the air is a rare* event. However you never know when Skynet will unleash its mechanical horrors upon us**, its best to be prepared as no man wants a jet of molten copper to the dangly bits!

    Good Job boffins!

    * never in recorded history

    ** Sorry, but I just wanna use the new terminator piccy thing!

  26. Rhyd


    FWIW, tarian is Welsh for shield.

  27. andrew mulcock
    Thumb Down

    fire ?

    Why use fire,

    Hit the thing with a AK47 firing in auto mode, will cut the cloth into shreds that the RPG will then go through. The thick "chicken mesh" currently used is very hard to hit with the AK47.

    The article does say the cloth has to be taught to work, after being hit with from the AK47, it won't be taught.

  28. randomtask

    Gives a whole new perspective on...

    ...touching cloth.

    Mine's is the one with Andrex Super Absorbent in the pocket....

  29. Bob Gulien

    @So we are basically fitting tanks with Kilts!

    yes, you can choose your own tartan.

  30. Steve X

    @Martin 6 & kilts

    That's TARIAN not TARTAN.

    As to those suggesting that all the enemy has to do is make a hole in the cloth first, I would imagine that the first slug of molten copper that gets smeared over one's tank (or sporran, as the case may be) might just be a hint that it's time to get the hell out of there smartish. Two shots in the same place on a moving target?

    Now let's see if this British company can turn trials into money-making production. Good luck to them.

  31. frank ly

    @Martin 6 re. Carry on .....

    "So we are basically fitting tanks with Kilts!"

    No, it's TARIAN, not TARTAN.

  32. Owen Williams

    @Peter Fielden-Weston 2

    Popular guy.

  33. Anonymous Coward

    Didn't Bhangraman save the planet

    from a meteor strike just using some cloth!

    No wonder the Talliban wear turbans.

  34. Steve Gill


    TARTAN would have been so much funnier

  35. Anonymous Coward

    Touching cloth

    Bring a new meaning to the armour crews Afghanistan experience..

  36. DT

    money well spent?

    So, with all these references to many tanks have been lost to RPGs there?

    er, none. Contrast that to how many troops have died because they didn't have the basics, like body armour? Not better to spend the money where it would protect the most number of soliders, rather than the highest value kit?

    Many troops lost to homebrew shaped charges and assorted booby traps,friendly fire and so forth, but the numbers of taliban who will attempt to take on a tank are tiny and diminishing - basic darwinism at play.

    Not saying the cloth isn't effective in that one situation, but give it a week and some bright spark at will have invented a two stage RPG. 'tis the way the arms industry works; a self perpetuating cycle of bigger guns, better armour, bigger guns...ed-209 enforcement 'bot in a frock, shark in a waistcoat with frickin lasers

  37. Captain Hogwash Silver badge

    TARIAN "textile based" vehicle protection system?

    Surely that should be TARTAN "textile based" vehicle protection system. If it's good enough for the Devils In Skirts...

  38. fifi

    childhood instincts

    So we WERE right to hide under the duvet

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Available in a wide range of styles and colours...

    I'd go for a nice velvet leopard print number, darlings.....

  40. LPF

    @Anonymous Coward

    Maybe he is being complimentary because this is not the usual story of a defence firm blatantly

    ripping off the British taxpayers to provide inferior and highly expensive kit to our troops.

    Look forward to BAE buying them up, replacing the cloth with wet tissue paper and charging

    a 100K per square meter to ensure future British technical expertise in the field :S

  41. Nick 6

    I believe the technical term for this is....

    ....touching cloth.

    that is all.

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton


    ... is the Eurofighter = Bad angle?

  43. M7S

    Could it pay to be shot at by an RPG?

    Now that the copper is splashed over the side of the vehicle, and presumably cools nicely in a "splat" shape by the time one returns home for tea and medals, given the price of copper on the market at the moment, is it worth some enterprising squaddie scraping these off for a bit of "hazard pay"?

    Reminds me of time spent collecting shell casings on the range....

  44. Olaf 1 Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    It looks like

    There is a pic on the Times. It looks like a bunch of sofa cushions.

    MOD meets DFS, buy one get one free. Do they have it in blue leather?

    Paris, coz she knows how to stop a missile whilst lying seductively on a cushion

  45. Individual #6/42

    It's just the start

    At the speeds involved most materials act as a fluid. The safest way to avoid damage is to have non ablative layers of angled material of increasing density that will refract incoming munitions. Candyfloss then bubblewrap, taut textiles, wood and then steel. Fluffy tanks!

  46. Bounty
    Paris Hilton

    that much lighter?

    We're talking about tanks here, they can move a lot of weight... I'm guessing you would still need a top and bottom rail to hold the cloth up and away from the armor. So the only weight this is saving is the middle part of the cage, which I believe they can make out of aluminum anyways... So I don't really get how much weight they are saving. 40lbs... on a tank? It's still in you way as far as maintenance etc. Although it would make a nice pet project I guess? Maybe 40lbs is worth whatever extra this stuff costs, I'm no military strategist.

  47. Anonymous Coward

    @Rob 30

    And don't call me Shirley... Honestly, what are readers up to these days?

    What's wrong with good old Kevlar? Or a kevlar-nomex mix?

    Thankfully we don't need this in "chav-ville" yet.

  48. Ian 71

    Care instructions

    Wonder what temperature you wash it at. All my garments have shrunk.

  49. Roger Jenkins

    Run like hell

    Some of the comments above have foreshadowed several methods of defeating this cloth covering ie. machine guns, incendiary rockets etc.

    My take on this is ,approaching is one or more armoured vehicles, you have shoulder use RPG's. What you desire to do is to pop up, fire, then run like hell. Not, pop up, fire, wait for a result, then fire again or worse, wait while your mates hose the vehicle down, then with the crew fully alert, pop up, take aim and fire. These are well armed armoured vehicles, perhaps with supporting vehicles of some description, the crew is not going to give you the sporting chance of a second shot, they are going to be banging away at you with everything they have, they and any support they may have.

    Anything that means that the attacker takes longer to complete an attack means that the balance of power swings away from the attacker and to the defender.

  50. Bill Cumming

    @ The Indomitable Gall

    But by the time the tellybannies (say Eh oh!) have fired enough rounds to make it useless the APC's will probably have enough time to use their Heavy Machine Gun on them... or called in an airstrike or make a cup of tea and then take them out with a few mortar rounds...

    mines the one with the Kevlar inserts and the militarily colours....

  51. Sekundra

    Empty Barrels

    Anon - please read the article properly and think first before posting.

    WEIGHT is the key benefit. As any current or "cough" former soldier can tell you, knowing that your vehicle is as protected as before but weighs less is a "Good Thing".

    Even if you're just replacing the lighter armour, you'll 'feel' the benefit!

    Oh, and I for one welcome our cloth armoured overlords...

  52. Charles 9 Silver badge

    Re: Machine gun first, RPG later

    I would imagine they make the material not just fire-resistant but bullet-resistant, too. In addition, they've probably made the material to simply leave a hole when punctured, not tear to shreds. Isolated bullet holes (of the typical 7.62mm-type) would then be too small to aim through with an RPG--the edges of the holes would probably still trigger the detonator.

    Anyone found my coat made of that stuff?

  53. Anonymous Coward

    "TARIAN is expected to resist strikes from RPGs..."

    Yeah, but can it resist strikes from JRPGs? A couple of direct hits from Final Fantasy 7 and Chrono Trigger ought to cook their little red wagon but good...

  54. Anonymous Coward

    Has this been weather checked for stability

    Weather can play a heavy part in external materials; Now we seem too know it works in sunny climates but have they tested it for the effects of:

    1) heavy rain

    2) Heavy rain then hot sun

    3) frost

    4) Moths!!!!

    Ok Moths arn't the weather but i'll chuck it into the nature equation. All these could effect the tautness of the cloth (unless some tensioning mechnisim - ew say few springs perhaps). Also the wear and tear effect these and other weather events would have, like heavy hail stones, or indeed a sandstorm.

    Out of the box thinking is all fine as long as you can show it travels thru the box to the people paying you. But standard tests cover standard approaches, they dont cover a bird shit in a strong breeze and the fallout of that landing on said cloth.

    I hope I'm wrong and its as good as it says on the tin as I sure dont want to see headline of "The Emperor's tanks new clothes". I realy do hope I'm wrong. Just so many aspects here that testing wont cover and is new that it leads itself to out of the box testing. We have bird cannons for windowscreens, is there a bird-shit pistol they use to test armou on tanks, I'm suspecting not but it could impact the material. Indeed have they tested it against the effect of ciggerrete burns from the troops or indeed being soaked in larger. might even be somebody with a tank fetish and as such thats another material wich wouldn't effect metal than it would effect a cloth. But I'm calling that one a long shot.

    Again I hope I'm utterly and totaly wrong, but out of the box new ways of doing things require equaly out of the box testing or thats alot of feild data testing you end up doing.

  55. Anonymous Coward


    By the way, the name RPG is originated from russian 'Ruchoi Protivotankovi Granatomet' which translates from russian as 'handheld anti-tank grenade launcher', not Rocket Propelled Grenade. it was invented by Russains in 1961, and many different types of charges have been developed for it, some of them specifically designed to overcome this type of protections.

  56. Apocalypse Later

    Ancient wisdom

    The mongols used loose fitting silk shirts as armour against arrows. Even if the arrow penetrated, it would be shrouded by the cloth and could easily be withdrawn.

  57. Neil Lucock

    Russian translation

    "Rocket Propelled Grenade, or more correctly Raketniy Protivotankoviy Granatomet"

    I think your Russian "translation" actually says rocket anti-tank grenade, comrade.


  58. ian 22

    Arrr Lewis!

    Any good Scotsman could hae' told ye that Tartan is tough! Oh, wait...

  59. Steen Hive


    Since the mad mullahs don't shave, don't you know they'll start gluing plentiful spare razor blades to the front of the warhead.

  60. fontaine

    Does it work?

    I thought that early detonation of a hollow charge improves the effectiveness.

    The Russian invention of 1961 was already in use during WWII. The Germans took a movie of the first documented use of a hollow charge at Eben-Emael, it is very impressive, although The Guns Of Navarone used better lighting and close up shots.

  61. Andrew 48
    Dead Vulture

    Perpetuating poor reporting

    The bar armour has nothing to do with stand-off distances or disrupting copper jets or anything like that. This is incorrect reporting that is sadly being perpetuated by the, normally pretty accurate, El Reg.

    The bars of the bar armour are spaced in such a way that the bars deactivate certain types of RPG fuse resulting in the warhead not being able to function, they can also deform the cone of the shaped charge prior to detonation.

    The stand-off distance for a shaped charge BTW is several feet or more, not the foot or so that the bar armour stands off at.

    On a side note, I saw TARIAN today and it actually appears to some sort of fabric-covered foam block, rather than just a sheet of cloth.

  62. Justabloke 1

    Companion Of Honour

    Clearly, all you chaps and chappess saying words to the effect "I'm sure they would have specified flameproof cloth" have never dealt with the MOD's procurement section...

  63. Steve 22

    Send in the kids

    I always thought it was particularly sporting of us to send "boys and girls" into a war zone. Personally, I would send trained killers but I suppose the MoD knows what it's doing.

  64. tony trolle

    foam block TARIAN

    Funny the cloth on the foam block does not seem that tight or "taught "

  65. touchwood
    Thumb Up


    Many years ago I was involved in developing an indoor firing range wherein the firing cubicle had to survive sideways, pointblank fire without penetration into the adjacent cubicle and zero splashback. Ammo extended to 762/556/solid shotgun projectiles. We tried all sorts of packing into the booth walls that were @ 5 inches thick. Sand; kevlar; steel-plate; sandwiches of wood/steel etc, all to no avail. As a last resort we dived into a 'rag-bag' full of quite thin, clean, cloth cleaning rags. We packed these rags between the sandwiches of alternate steel plate (@ 2mm thick) and 5mm thick plywood, with most of the rags loosely packed in the centre sandwich. The bloody thing worked!! No splashback, no penetration! The rags appeared to absorb the projectile by spreading out at impact in some weird fashion. Sadly, we never got the Contract. Can quite believe this stuff!

  66. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Are reg readers getting thicker?

    I would have thought that readers of El Reg would be capable of basic thought processes, but some of the comments above seem to indicate not.

    Burn it first. Well Duh, as many have said, make it from fireproof material. Not that that's important anyway, as you need two shots, and you only get one. Or a new design of RPG, which doesn't exist yet, and would be much more expensive. See, that didn't require much thinking.

    Machine Gun it first. Well Duh, make it from Kevler composite materials, like the stuff in, oh, I don't know, bullet proof vests? Even then small holes don't affect the effectiveness of this concept, and lots of holes take too long to make. See previous points.

    Environmental conditions (Moths? WTF?) - you can make anything weather proof with the right additives.

    Do the people commenting not think that the developers would have thought of all these things? After all, that's why they work in defense, and not IT. Unlike all the IT people who think they should work in defense, but really shouldn't because, well, see above.

  67. Freediver

    Lesson from the past !!

    Excellent thinking on the part of the developers and the same as in mediaeval times when loose sacking was used to stop longbow arrows. Sacking was hung in front of a potential target and the point captured by the material, rotating it upwards as the cloth swung back and expending the arrow's energy in a 'slap' rather than a point-focussed impact. An arrow, shot from a longbow could penetrate up to 4 inches of oak (which was why doors of big houses were 4" and more thick to prevent arrows entering the house with lethal force) but be stopped by a single sheet of loose sacking. Well done the lads.

  68. fajensen Silver badge

    Famous last words!



    Don't you think they would have thought of that? I highly doubt they will use "cloth" susceptible to flame.


    Not really; After all It's the MOD: We are talking about unlimited fuck-up potential here. They *will* find a way to waste millions of taxpayers dosh on worse-than-useless kit; it' what they DO ferricekakes!

  69. TeeCee Gold badge


    Yup, worked so well at blowing holes in the fort at Eben-Emael that they adapted the technology to produce the Panzerfaust, which had a shaped charge warhead and was the first single-shot, disposable anti-tank RPG.

    That Russian grenade-on-a-stick system which has become ubiquitous since was pretty much a copy of this as the Red Army had gained some useful firsthand experience of exactly how effective the little beggars were.

    By sheer coincidence, I was sitting in the sunshine having a beer at the watermill bar next to Eben-Emael last week...

  70. wim

    commentators of the reg

    I always think it is very funny how some people here are specialists on all subjects (climate change, military kit, politics, and so on) and always question the sanity of everything made, invented, enforced.

    I wonder if they also accept the same input from their users if they are administrators. I guess that what an admin does is also pointless and retarded from the point of the average user and I am sure a lot of users think they know everything better than their admins.

    Maybe it is time to accept that specialists are specialists and that they probably know more than the average commentor here.

    Or maybe we should have reviews and articles who cover all angles of the subject.

    I am sure everybody will appreciate a title like: "Brit firm stops anti-tank warheads with cloth that is fire resistant and is applied in such a way that bullets do not tore is completely appart, when the clothed tank is fired upon with a machine gun it is most of the times a good indication that someone slightly hostile is in the vicinity and maybe we should return fire, if only out of decency to reply in the same manner as spoken too (machine gun bullets) and probably fire a round or two in the direction of the machine gun fire to make sure that the person who is firing upon is feels that his actions are fully appreciated."

    the rest of the article may read what the appropriate actions are to be taken.

    A second thought that may enter the thick head of the tank commander is to retreat, search cover behind buildings or other obstacles and so on and so on.

    I am sure that the next time you have to install an upgrade on some user's computer you will all be more than happy to provide every user with all the answers to all their questions in detail.

    On the other hand I do realize we are talking here about the government/military who have some track record of doing some stupid things. Think velcro (hook and loop used to keep pockets of military clothing closed. (I hope you can find the mistake in that)

    and now let the flaming begin.

  71. Anonymous Coward

    Slight flaw

    What the article and indeed the company failed to mention is that they have to fit a cage around the vehicle in order to hold the cloth. Methinks there are far more sinister reasons for this. Namely, they are replacing the tanks and armoured cars with Ford Transits due to cutbacks and they hope to hide this fact by wrapping them up so nobody can see.

  72. nbc

    @Andrew 48

    >>The bar armour has nothing to do with stand-off distances or disrupting copper jets or anything like that. This is incorrect reporting that is sadly being perpetuated by the, normally pretty accurate, El Reg.

    The bar armour has everything to do with stand-off. (See below).

    >>The bars of the bar armour are spaced in such a way that the bars deactivate certain types of RPG fuse resulting in the warhead not being able to function, they can also deform the cone of the shaped charge prior to detonation.

    The RPG fuse is a piezoelectric impact fuze, so the only way to "deactivate" the fuse is for the warhead to be jammed between two bars or be deflected from its previous flight path. Jamming the warhead between two bars is limited as the RPG warhead currently in use has an igniferous self-destruct, which, from memory will function 9 or 10 seconds after firing.

    >>The stand-off distance for a shaped charge BTW is several feet or more, not the foot or so that the bar armour stands off at.

    Bollocks. The RPG is designed so that its optimal stand-off distance is equal to the distance from the tip of the warhead to the front face of the cone.

  73. Chris 96

    wooly tanks

    Well I'm getting the world's first anti-tank scissors on the drawing board - who's in?

    - mine's the one with the RPG-sized hole in the back

  74. Master Baker

    Great idea

    They should look at coating the vehicles with tampons and fanny-pads. That'll absorb anything you could throw at it. May become a bit heavy if attacked with buckets of water though.

  75. Pat Volk

    They could integrate the cloth into a rigid matrix

    I have this vision of the MOD buying up a bunch of textile-resin plates, and affixing them to the tanks... That's right, they're going to have Trabant armor.

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