If manueuvrability is what matters the most in a battlefield,there is reason to cheer. Moving a step ahead of the armoured vehicle/truck launched bridging systems,the Research and Development Engineers (R&DE),a city-based DRDO laboratory,has been in talks with the Army to put to use the composite bridges,which it says are heli-portable. The laboratory,which has been working on composite structures,has developed a five- and 10-m composite-bridging system the lighter weights of which can make feasible the option of heli-portability of bridging systems.
We completed the fabrication of 10-m composite bridge around six months ago. While a few tests have been conducted,the rest are under way. The success of the 10-m bridging system will pave the way for the 26-m bridge,which should be developed next year. We developed the five-metre composite bridges three years ago,which means that we have the technology. We are in discussion with the Army about the heli-portability of the system which is its best use, said Dr S Guruprasad,director,R&DE.
According to the R & DE officials,here is how the composite bridges are better the five-metre long and four-metre wide bridge developed by the laboratory three years ago is 30 per cent lighter than the aluminium bridge and costs approximately the same. It weighs 1.2 tonnes and is designed for Military Load Class (MLC)-70 (capacity to sustain 70 tonnes of load). Each tread way of the bridge with a deck-I girder configuration is monocoque without joints. Vacuum Assisted Resin Transfer Moulding (VARTM) process has been used to manufacture the bridge. What makes the composite bridges smart are the fibre optic sensors,which are embedded in it,say R& DE officials.
Composites normally use glass or carbon fibre and epoxy resins for bonding. In Agni-V,the third stage was made of composites. R&DE has developed the applications of composites in design,development of structures for the Army and naval applications such as all composite single span bridges,armoured vehicles with integral ceramic composite hull,among others, said Air Commodore (retd) Raghubir Singh of Institute of Defence Scientists and Technologists.
The fabrication and designing of the composite bridges has been done in-house by the laboratory,which has earlier developed the Sarvatra Bridging System and the Bridge Laying Tank (BLT T- 72) on the T- 72 chassis. The laboratory has been working in-house on the composites. However,once we enter the production stage,private partners do the transfer of technology, Guruprasad said.