How do composites fit into the equation?
Composites are about being light. Since our first day working, we set out to be lighter. That’s a key thing we’ve lost along the way in this market, especially in the Marines. Right now we can’t take a vehicle from flat top ships, of which there are 21 in the world, with a helicopter and have a vehicle that is bomb resistant and has protection of MRAP because they’re too heavy. If we could make it possible, then the battle zone becomes 3 dimensional because suddenly you can be where they don’t expect you to be. Instead of driving up the road, which is heavily mined, drop in behind it. It would make a really bad day for the bad guy.
What does the military market have to look forward to in 2012?
I think you’re going to see a consistent blend of metallics and composites. It’s not going to be a wholesale replacement, but within that you will see an aggressive use of composites similar to composite adoption in the aircraft industries. It starts with using composites in secondary structures and in armor. A common rumor is that composites are not as consistent as steel or metals in armor but that’s not true, we are actually more consistent. What it comes down to is expertise in manufacturing. It’s the strong attention to details, materials and processes, the exact process and process control. I think this part of the manufacturing story is just emerging for composites.