Blast Seat Damper reduces IED casualties on battlefield 

Soldiers attending the AUSA Annual Meeting and Exposition  are exposed to and learn about the latest technological advances being researched and developed by  the defense industry as they tour the exhibit halls in the Walter E. Washington Convention Center during the three-day professional development event.

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 evolution.

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," Don Flynn, General Kinetics’ director of business development, said.

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," Chuck Williams, the company’s president and chief executive officer, said.

The United Kingdom Ministry of Defense 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 on the size of a purchase order, Williams and Flynn said.