With the emphasis on blast protection to mitigate the damage inflicted by
improvised explosive devices (IEDs), one manufacturer believes it is producing a
device that will improve vehicle passengers’ survivability.
The Blast Seat Damper can fit into the seats of any tactical and combat
vehicles, General Kinetics of Brampton, Ontario, and Manchester, N.H., claims.
At the Association of the United States Army Annual Meeting and Exposition, held
in Washington, D.C., Oct. 22-24, company officials talked about the damper’s
The device, which resembles a heavy-duty vehicle shock absorber, had its origins
in a device the company developed seats in vessels used by the U.S. Coast Guard
and other sea services.
The impact a vehicle and its passengers experiences after an IED detonates is
“not all that different from … what happens to an occupant’s seat during a blast
event,” said Don Flynn, General Kinetics’ director of business development.
Live-fire and blast-event tests in vehicles have shown that the Blast Seat
Damper’s technology “responds fast enough [to] reduce shock and stress
transmitted to an occupant,” Flynn said.
Further, Flynn said, each damper is programmable to adapt instantly to the
weight of the occupant in the seat to which it is attached, as well as the
impact of a blast.
Without intending any flippancy the analogy may imply, Flynn said, “It’s not the
fall off a skyscraper that hurts. It’s the impact at the end.”
The same holds true in IED impacts, Flynn said. People get hurt at the “spike”
that occurs after an explosion. The device’s program helps mitigate the harmful
effects of that spike, he said. It also automatically and instantly resets after
each impact, he said, allowing it to continue to function when the explosion
causes a vehicle rolls over numerous times very quickly.
“Existing technology relies on a fuse, which works only one time,” said Chuck
Williams, the company’s president and chief executive officer.
The United Kingdom Ministry of Defence has employed similar units on its combat
vehicles’ suspensions, but it has yet to be deployed on seats. “British troops
have told us that this is what they want to be in when they cross the wire [and
deploy],” Flynn said.
Once in production, each Blast Seat Damper would add about 12 pounds of weight
to the seat in which it is installed, at a cost of about $1,000 per system,
depending upon the size of a purchase order, Williams and Flynn said.