Testing

Radnor Ranges in South Wales on 6th of October 2010 presented a surreal sight that would not have been out of place in the Tate Modern. Placed in concentric semi circles around a crater about mid way up the valley were blue foam dummies of a well know Hollywood actor, dressed in body armour and what would appear to the casual observer to be two-tone cycling shorts.

For a brief period silence covered the valley, the local sheep showing extreme disinterest in the foam dummies below them or in the array of high speed and stills cameras focused upon the crater. That silence was then broken as fifteen kilograms of high explosive detonated sending a plume of earth, rock and debris into the air - each foam "actor" blasted by sand, grit and pebbles travelling at hundreds of metres per second. Sharp and solid gravel had been used to cover the charge to increase the lethality of the blast. Heavier rocks were blasted into space for hundreds of metres.

As the dust and dirt settled, BCB's team examined the debris. Set between the individual dummies were additional targets - hanging tubes covered in a wide variety of silk and other possible ballistic materials to allow a quick comparison. Amongst the targets were also blocks of 'jelly' which, Matthew Searle (BCB R&D) explained, would allow a closer look after the trials at the anatomy of a blast and crucially the hazard of very small particles - like grains of sand.

The aim of the Blast Shorts is to protect the wearer from small, high speed particles that would otherwise cause severe life threatening injuries. To test the Blast Shorts performance, the Radnor trials increased the proximity of the target dummies and the intensity of the blasts. Despite significant fragmentation to the unprotected regions of the targets and even their partial or complete destruction at close range, the Blast Shorts proved remarkably resilient.

"We've gathered some great data, and the trials have been extremely successful"

Will Hocking, BCB`s Research and Development Manager, was pleased to comment.

"We have previously done extensive trials in the laboratory and on the firing range which proved the Blast Boxers would stop many of the fragments from an IED. But nothing, apart from using high explosives, could replicate the devastating blast effects of an IED on the lower exposed groin region".