Air patrolling and aerial crime observation are increasingly part of the routine duties of police organizations and law enforcement bodies around the world. In the past, helicopters were traditionally employed on these patrolling and observation missions, despite their high costs, low flight range, noise, and speed limitations. However, modern ultra-light planes do not have these limitations, and are therefore considered an optimal alternative. Since 2015, Teijin Aramid and COMCO IKARUS have been working together to develop lightweight ballistic-protected aircraft. Teijin Aramid’s Martin Klang and COMCO IKARUS’s Horst Lieb talk to us about how this collaboration developed, and the exciting progress made so far.
Martin Klang, Sales & Marketing Manager at Ballistics, Teijin Aramid
“I’ve been working at Teijin Aramid since 1988, and so I’ve been active in ballistic protection for more than two decades. I’m also a passionate pilot of small sport planes. Through my personal interest in this field, I became aware that, in the 1990s, the German company COMCO IKARUS had sold several light aircraft to police forces in Brazil for narco traffic control – specifically for the control of illegal coca fields. These missions required low-altitude, silent-flight observation planes over the Amazon rainforest territory. I recognized that armoring this type of plane, to provide protection from ground-to-air ballistics, could add significant value to the products of COMCO IKARUS. However, the armoring had to be extremely lightweight: the total weight of the plane itself is only 280-290kg, and the maximum take-off weight is 540kg in the LSA category, which means that there is not much room to play with. Together with my technical staff, I inspected the plane, Comco’s C42E model, and we agreed that we could provide suitable protection weighing only 40kg. I discussed the idea further with Comco, and we decided to work together on this project. After some back-and-forth attempts, we succeeded in exhibiting our first prototype of armored plane parts at the Milipol exhibition in Paris in November 2015, which attracted quite a lot interest from visitors!”
Horst Lieb, Managing Partner, COMCO IKARUS
“We were approached in early 2015 by Teijin’s Martin Klang, with a view to armoring our C42E model. This is a two-seater, multi-role ultralight plane with a flight radius of six hours, a low-altitude operational modus, and an ultra-silent flight operation (56dB). As it’s very maneuverable and can fulfill a wide range of duties, it has become the machine of choice for police authorities across the world. However, this model was not fully suitable for hazardous situations, such as war zones or
situations where the plane could be shot at from the ground. Together with Teijin Aramid, we have been able to add another important feature to this plane – high-level ballistic safety for the crew – by adding Endumax® ballistic protection panels. The crew of the C42E can now be protected against the threat of AK 47 MSC, the “Kalaschnikov”, without also compromising the flight performance of the plane. The ballistic-protected plane was successfully exhibited at Milipol. Working with Teijin Aramid, and specifically with Martin Klang, was a very engaging experience. The people from Teijin Aramid and our own staff had different sets of expertise, but we had a common goal, so the collaboration got off to a flying start!”