QinetiQ’s Q-Net: Fabric Beats Rocket
No vehicle “cage armor” provides 100% protection, but even 50% effectiveness will save lives. QinetiQ’s Q-Net uses high-tech fabrics to replace metal cage armor, and protect against incoming rockets. In May 2012, QinetiQ North America in Watham, MA received an $11.7 million firm-fixed-price contract for 420 “rocket-propelled grenade defeating nets,” 420 battle damage Q-net kits, and proprietary tubes. Work will be performed in Franklin, MA, with an estimated completion date of Dec 13/12. One bid was solicited, with 1 bid received by the U.S. Army Contracting Command in Warren, MI (W56HAV-12-C-0240).
This isn’t the USA’s first Q-Net purchase. Kits have been created and fielded for HMMWVs, and for blast-resistant RG-31s and M-ATVs, but contracts to date had been handed out through the vehicle manufacturers. That isn’t entirely unreasonable, since any cage armor must be produced as a specific kit that protects a given vehicle type. As for Q-Net…
Q-Net’s principles are similar to equipment like Tarian’s QuickSafe and TNO’s Constrictor. The fabric net surrounds most exposed areas of the vehicle, and is tough enough that an incoming rocket can’t just rip right through. Hitting the net may prevent the rocket’s piezo-electric fuze from detonating, or otherwise impair its operation enough to save the vehicle’s crew. That principle holds true for any cage armor, but Q-Net and its contemporaries offer a product that’s significantly lighter than bar armor, including BAE’s aluminum LROD cage armor. That lightness allows in-field repairs, and ensures that the fabric nets can easily be used to “patch” removed metal or fabric cage armor panels.
Q-Net was jointly developed by QinetiQ North America, DARPA, and the US Office of Naval Research. It was not the first such product in the marketplace, but it appears to be the US military’s choice. France has also purchased it, in order to equip its armored vehicles like the VBCI, and some Polish vehicles have also been equipped with it.
The current variant is Q-Net II. QinetiQ claims better protection at lighter weight, but won’t go into details. Q-Net II also features a patented hook-and-loop installation material that attaches the net to the frames, which can be made to collapse or fold out of the way if required during missions.
- QinetiQ – Q-Net®: using nets to defeat rocket-propelled grenades
- QinetiQ – QinetiQ goes to market with Q-Net™ II
- US Army (July 9/13) – U.S. Army aids France with RPG-defense test data. Sharing it required a government-to-government agreement.