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VPAM ERV Edition 3: Blast Protection Standards and the Challenge of Transparency

Independent certification of blast protection for civilian armoured vehicles is crucial for ensuring procurement best practices.

Despite this, some procurement agencies still rely solely on uparmourer claims of "B6 materials" for assessing protection levels. Armoured Consulting, however, believes this approach is misguided and irresponsible.

Procurement agencies have a legal duty to minimise risks to vehicle occupants. Investing in civilian armoured vehicles without independent verification of armour design is, in our view, negligent and exposes agencies to potential legal liabilities if protection fails to meet the “reasonable man test”.

The VPAM ERV Edition 3 standard introduces a 3-star rating system to communicate the level of a vehicle’s blast protection. The aim is to effectively communicate occupant safety against specific explosive threats to the side, roof and under a vehicle.

However, significant concerns arise due to the lack of transparency in how this rating is determined. This is affecting all the major stakeholders including uparmourers, procurement agencies and end-users.

Understanding VPAM ERV Edition 3 and its Blast Protection Standard

VPAM ERV Edition 3 establishes specific protocols to test and evaluate civilian armoured vehicles against explosive threats, including side, roof and under-vehicle blast events. Developed by VPAM, this standard provides repeatable testing methodologies to assess vehicle performance under specific blast conditions.

A significant feature of the VPAM ERV Edition 3 is its new evaluation criteria, including the use of a Biofidelic dummy and an assessment matrix based on DGU emergency room criteria.

Challenges in Transparency of Blast Test Results and Ratings

Procurement agencies face challenges accessing detailed information on the evaluation matrix, including criteria, weighting factors, and performance thresholds used in blast tests. This lack of transparency impedes decision-making, making it difficult to compare and interpret blast test results from different uparmourers bidding on supply contracts.

Typically, procurement agencies receive a star rating certificate and a possibly also a limited test report, There is a lack of crucial data to effectively assess the strengths and weaknesses of protection solutions. For instance, interpreting differences between a 3-star side blast rating at 4 meters versus a 2-star rating at 3 meters becomes challenging without clarity on what "Dummy Slightly Damaged" entails for risk assessment and mitigation strategies.

As someone who spent many years responsible for the procurement of civilian armoured vehicles, I find this lack of transparency to be unacceptable and a failure of the VPAM/testing agency’s professional responsibility.



The lack of transparency surrounding evaluation matrices and test data undermines the credibility of standards like VPAM ERV Edition 3 - it erodes trust in their validity.

Enhanced transparency in evaluation matrices and test data, particularly regarding "Damage to the Dummy," can foster consistency, objectivity, and trust in evaluating armoured vehicles. This transparency is crucial for developing more reliable security solutions in the face of evolving threats.

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