The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) has found that some types of rubber provide corrosion protection—and potentially better ballistic protection—for amphibious assault vehicles (AAVs). This is important to the U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) as they look to extend the AAV, introduced in 1972, through 2035. "Innovative sustainment concepts, like those NRL is investigating, enable us to avoid the cost of new design, development, and production of new components," says Tim Bergland of the USMC Advanced Amphibious Assault (AAA) office.
Dr. Mike Roland and Dr. Ray Gamache led the research for NRL. "What makes [AAVs] unique is they can go in water and land," says Roland. "They give the Marine Corps a capability that no other service has."
Since the 1990s, the U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) has been bolting armor onto their AAVs. "The armor itself is a laminate of high hard steel, which by itself is good for ballistics; a rubber layer; then there's another soft steel layer in the back," says Roland. The problem is that the armor gets corroded with intense use and exposure to salt water.