Protection Effect on a Ballistic Impact of NATO 7.62 Ball Bullet into Helicopter Drive Shaft: Numerical Simulation


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Actual strategies and rules in peace keeping mission have led to an intensive use of helicopters exposing the aircraft and the crew to significant risks. Typical missions in fact involve low altitude flights in hostile environment where many threats can cause severe damages, leading eventually to the loss of the machine and the crew. According to this scenario, the tail rotor power transmission is one of the most critical components for its fundamental role to ensure flight stability and for its vulnerability, being very exposed during flight manoeuvre. In addition light weapons are wide spread, due to their cheapness and manoeuvrability. So the impact of 7.62x61 NATO ball 9.5 g bullet is an event anything but remote. This projectile is a full metal jacket bullet, with a brass jacket and a lead alloy core. Due to its mechanical characteristics, the soft lead core undergoes to high deformations and failures (mushroom and debris) during the impact, causing a large and extensive damaged area. Several researches have been developed to investigate the ballistic impact of conventional bullet against typical thin and lightweight aeronautical structure. As usual in this field, a complete methodology with experimental tests and numerical approaches has been carried on. In particular Finite Element analyses, although require complicate calibrations and validation which can be only made through indispensable experimental tests, represent a key resource. Very detailed numerical models are an extremely powerful tool to investigate the damage generated during an impact and allow simulating complex and extreme cases. With this premises direct impact between a 7.62x51 NATO ball 9.5 g bullet with a tube simulating an Helicopter drive shaft has been investigated by the authors in a previous work both with experimental and numerical activities with good agreement. However, considering the huge effect of bullet deformation verified during this activity, the modification of the bullet due to a preliminary impact with the surrounding frame (around the shaft in the real helicopter) could influence in a remarkable way the damage shape and extension in the shaft. This is an issue that is worth to further investigation and this is the aim of this paper. Basing only on a numerical procedure, previously assessed, an investigation of the impact of a NATO 7.62x51 mm ball 9.5 g bullet into an Al-6061-T6 pipe and its protection is presented. In particular the work will focus on the influence of the frame panel, which covers the transmission shaft, on the impact conditions. Analysis are carried out using the Finite Element commercial code ABAQUS/Explicit. Advanced materials’ descriptions, constitutive law and fracture criterion are introduced within the numerical model of the shaft and protection; projectile has been modelled as deformable body. Different impact conditions have also been tested in order to identify the worst impact condition.



Edited by:

Ezio Cadoni and Marco di Prisco






D. Lumassi et al., "Protection Effect on a Ballistic Impact of NATO 7.62 Ball Bullet into Helicopter Drive Shaft: Numerical Simulation", Applied Mechanics and Materials, Vol. 82, pp. 710-715, 2011

Online since:

July 2011




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