by Ami Rojkes Dombe
The OSG Company is developing a bullet-resistant windshield that can enhance crew safety and upgrade the vehicle’s operational performance. Exclusive interview
The OSG Company of Kibbutz Palmach Zova has started manufacturing a bullet-resistant windshield with a touch screen embedded in it. “It is a cassette-like device inserted between the safety glass layers. The screen is connected to the vehicle’s multimedia system, so it may be used to display maps, live feeds from the day or night vision cameras mounted on the vehicle, and other video options,” explains Daniel Cohen, OSG CEO and a member of Kibbutz Palmach Zova.
“One of the problems with combat vehicles is the lack of space in the cabin occupied by the vehicle commander and driver. Today, the vehicle commander must balance his laptop computer on his knees during operational activity. This is awkward and inconvenient, and in the event of an accident – the computer can endanger the passengers. This need led us to develop ScreeneX – a touch screen embedded in the commander’s window. It saves space, and if the vehicle overturns or is hit by an explosive charge – the laptop computer will not harm the passengers. Our industry is going in that direction. These screens are used in such vehicles as HUMVEEs and MRAP (Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected) vehicles, where the cabin is fitted with bullet-resistant windows.”
The development of ScreeneX is yet another example of the creativity of the Israeli defense industry. Kibbutz Palmach Zova began manufacturing armored glass following the first Lebanon War. As early as during the first Intifada, some of the vehicles of the Israeli defense and security forces were fitted with their protective products. “The idea for the establishment of the plant had emerged at some point in the 1970s,” recounts Cohen. “In the mid-1970s, the USA began importing vehicles made in Japan, and the US market encountered a shortage of replacement windows and windshields for those vehicles, so someone suggested we establish a plant and manufacture products for the US market. We acquired the know-how for the manufacture of windshields and windows for civilian vehicles from Finland. That’s how it all started. After the first Lebanon war, IMOD approached us regarding the development of armored glass for vehicles. We started researching this field and developed technologies and products for the military market as well. Today we have three manufacturing plants – two of them producing transparent armor – in Israel and in the USA, plus a manufacturing plant producing civilian vehicle glass products in Israel.”
The OSG Company is involved in major military vehicle protection projects worldwide. Among others, it is a leading supplier of transparent armor to the US MATV and MRAP projects, and the exclusive supplier to the US FHTV project. Additionally, OSG supplies transparent armor to the French Army’s PVP project, to the British Army’s HUSKY vehicle project and to the Italian Army’s ASTRA vehicle project.
The OSG Company is also the primary supplier to the US JLTV (Joint Light Tactical Vehicle) project – a huge project in the context of which the US Army intends to purchase 50,000 light military vehicles and the US Marine Corps intends to purchase several thousands. AM General (manufacturers of the HUMVEE), Oshkosh and a joint venture of Lockheed Martin and BAE are currently competing for the project. The OSG Company of Kibbutz Palmach Zova cooperates with all of them.
The OSG Company also supplies transparent armor to the IDF. Some of the platforms they fit include the David vehicles which recently replaced the older AIL Storm (“Sufa”) Jeeps, the Namer APC as well as Israeli Navy vessels. In the civilian market, the Company supplies vehicle glass products to the European market as well as to the local market in Israel. “We established the plant to serve the US military. We are their No.1 supplier of transparent armor. The local market is relatively small, and most of our production yield – about 80% – is intended for export,” explains Cohen. “The products are developed in Israel – some through cooperative alliances with MAFAT and Israeli academia.”
The people of the OSG Company explain that their products are based on a combination of glass and polymers, produced through a proprietary manufacturing process. The bullet-resistant glass products conform to the European NATO standard STANAG 4569. This Standard specifies five degrees of ballistic resistance. Products conforming to the highest degree, Class 5, provide protection against 25mm shells fired at the vehicle from a distance of 500 meters with a velocity of 1258 meters per second. The same class also demands resistance to 7.62mm tungsten bullets (M993), known in the IDF as armor-piercing rounds. The US Army applies the ATPD 2352 Standard. This Standard is based, with certain revisions, on two previous standards – versions F and G of MIL-STD-810.
Another development by the OSG Company is the ADI bullet-resistant window. “One of the problems with ballistic glass combined with other substances involves the service life of the product. Normally, bullet-resistant windows have to be replaced every 3 to 5 years, on average,” says Cohen. “In order to overcome this problem, we developed a special polymer that doubles the service life of the product. This reduces the vehicle maintenance costs and minimizes the transparency problems that the product develops over the years. We developed it over the last two years and it has passed all of the required tests, including resistance to extreme conditions.”
As far as the business aspect is concerned, the people at the OSG Company explain that the market generates a fairly stable demand, owing to the maintenance factor. Demands in Europe have decreased over the last few years, but the US market is their primary market. “Our products are included in all of the platforms of the US military – which is a major market for spare parts,” explains Cohen. “We are also active on the naval arena, supplying transparent armor for naval vessels in Israel and abroad, including such Far Eastern countries like Japan and other countries. Another market involves 4x4 vehicles for the HLS field. We provided products to the construction industry, such as safety windows for apartment blast protection spaces. These windows do not resist a direct impact, but they do provide a solution for fragmentation and small arms fire. For example, they are incorporated in IDF firing positions and watch towers.”
Future developments? “The direction in which we are currently heading involves the use of such exotic substances as transparent ceramics, sapphire glass and so forth. These products will become more common down the line. They offer an advantage owing to their ballistic resistance relative to weight. This can reduce the weight of a window by 50%. With armored vehicles, that is the objective – reducing weight in order to improve performance,” concludes Cohen.
Ami Rojkes Dombe
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