U.S. Navy researchers are using
a statistical analysis of x-rays of American military personnel killed by
roadside bombs, and the details of the explosions, to determine what conditions
were most likely to cause fatalities. Using this knowledge, it is easier to
design more effective vehicle and personal armor, and protective measures in
general. This is a technique pioneered over 60 years ago, in World War II. Back
then, the new technique of Operations Research was used to figure out how to
better protect American bombers from German anti-aircraft fire. This would
appear to have been a serious problem, because researchers were unable to
examine most of the aircraft that had not come back (aircraft that had been
shot down over the English Channel or German occupied Europe). It was noted,
however that all the damaged aircraft that had come back had been damaged in
places that had not done so much damage that the aircraft were brought down.
Thus the areas that were not hit were noted. Given that hundreds of aircraft
were examined, by combining all this information, certain key areas appeared
that received little or no damage in the aircraft that had returned. These must
be the crucial areas that should be better protected. And so it proved to be.
Certain control (cables and electrical wiring) and engine (hydraulic and fuel
lines) components were rarely harmed in returning (but damaged) aircraft. Doing
a little more math, and organizing information from aircrew on what types of
damage caused them the most problems, it was possible to provide substantially
increased protection to aircraft with a minimum amount of armor. When the newly
equipped aircraft went into action, a higher percentage of aircraft returned.
And many of these had dents in the armor protecting the key areas.
navy researchers are using a similar approach, to find out where the fatal
vulnerabilities are, and then try and figure out how to add more protection.