NATO Report Features Mississippi State Research

May 21, 2015

From Mississippi State University News-

Work underway at Mississippi's flagship research university is playing a pivotal role in the design and development of the next generation of armored ground vehicles that meet defense planners' mission needs and budget limitations.

The Mississippi State research is featured in a recent North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) publication showcasing the international political and military alliance's focus on leading-edge science and technology.

Published in the NATO Science and Technology Organization Annual Report 2014, the article highlights a meeting of international experts who gathered to discuss research addressing underbody blast and amphibious vehicles, according to MSU's Roger King.

"We are pleased to see this work garner additional attention," the director of the university's Institute for Computational Research in Engineering and Science said.

King and Michael Hönlinger, the executive manager of product conception for wheeled vehicles at German-based Krauss-Maffei Wegmann, led the NATO research specialists meeting on the "Design and Protection Technologies for Land and Amphibious Vehicles" in Copenhagen, Denmark last year.

According to King, who co-chairs the NATO AVT-221 Technical Team with Hönlinger, the group investigated best practices used and concept proposals for vehicles capable of land operations as well as maneuvering throughout a larger theater of operations.

"Members of the NATO alliance have an increasing need for vehicles capable not only of land operations, but managing river crossings and tactical swimming in the sea and near-shore areas," he said.

However, vehicle weight has increased to such an extent that modern amphibious vehicles have lost their capability to maneuver in the water, he explained.

King and his colleagues are tackling the problem by using advanced technologies and materials, as well as advanced design and optimization tools. They are also creating computationally efficient simulation models capable of analyzing end-to-end performance of military ground vehicles subjected to blast loading and the effect on soldier injuries to maximize new designs.

The research specialists meeting in Copenhagen included papers and presentations by associate research professor Richard Weed at the Center for Advanced Vehicular Systems and David Thompson, who holds the Airbus Helicopters Inc. Endowed Professorship in the Department of Aerospace Engineering.

Weed's paper described his work to implement a Hybrid-Elastic-Plastic (HEP) material model for soils under blast loading developed by the Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) in Vicksburg using the shock wave physics computer code CTH to support military vehicle under-body blast simulations. (Learn more about the Sandia National Lab-developed CTH at

Accurate modeling of the material response of soils that cover a buried mine or improvised explosive device (IED) is a critical requirement in predictions of the potential damage such devices can inflict on military vehicles and personnel.

Weed's implementation of the HEP model was used by ERDC to develop a database of the responses of different soil types to a variety of underbody blast scenarios that will assist military planners in the identification of potential risks to current and future military vehicles posed by buried explosives.

Thompson and his colleagues have been developing a highly-scalable, high performance computing-based software tool to predict the effects of a blast on a vehicle due to the detonation of a buried IED.

Modeling the coupled effects of blast, the material response of the soil in which the IED is buried, and the structural response of the vehicle to the blast event is a challenging task. The new code, named Loci/BLAST, responds to these challenges by incorporating state-of-the-art numerical techniques to predict the loading on the vehicle.

When coupled with a structural dynamics code, Loci/BLAST can estimate vehicle damage, even for cases in which the structural response time is similar to the time scale of the blast. With additional validation, Loci/BLAST will provide designers a computational capability with potentially higher accuracy than existing tools.

"Our work with NATO's applied vehicle technology initiative is an example of Mississippi State's international reach, as well as a demonstration of our expertise in modeling and simulation, materials science and engineering, and high performance computational resources and analytical tools," King said.

According to the Giles Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, the land-grant institution's world-class faculty, resources and infrastructure, are critical to the success of projects like this one.

"We are also very comfortable with interdisciplinary collaboration," he said.

For additional information, contact King at or learn more about ICRES at