At Enforce Tac 2022, NFM Group, a Norwegian body armor manufacturer displayed their line of SKJOLD body armor systems. The company manufactures both hard armor and soft armor, providing protection for clients around the globe.
After conducting an interview with the company about their THOR load-bearing systems at MIlipol 2021, BodyArmorNews.com had the opportunity for a follow-up interview. We spoke with Mr. Toivo Horvei, Chief Technology Officer at NFM, about their body armor products and other technologies in development.
What’s in a name?
NFM is known for drawing upon their Viking heritage in naming their products as well as in the philosophy they use to develop said products. In Scandinavian languages, SKJOLD means ‘shield’, referring to the wooden shields used by Vikings.
“We try to have this philosophy,” Mr. Horvei explained, “that if you’re making something, every part and every detail must have a function. Otherwise, you should take it away. We try to be very clear and specific about what we want the product to do.
“Another part of the Nordic design tradition is the aim to achieve simplicity where we can. You can see this reflected in the clean and crisp designs of our products.”
Contract with Norwegian government
“We built up a unique long-term contract to supply the Norwegian government,” Mr. Horvei said, “I say unique because we got the contract before we had all the definitions of the problems. Generally, you cannot deliver protection to anyone unless you start from a threat assessment. If you don’t know what your problem is, it’s very hard to fix it.”
“So, we had a deep discussion with the customer about the operational theater they’re going into. We sat down and developed the product with the customer, according to the best intelligence the army has about their threat, combined with our knowledge about how we can use materials to deal with the most important threats.
“In the end, we didn’t go with any standard. We were basing methodology on NIJ for the hard armor. And then we based it on the STANAG 2920 for fragmentation. Eventually, we built a package where the weight is going down the price isn’t going up.”
Another unique aspect of the program is that it’s a long-term five-year contract with an option with five more at the end of it. NFM has a R&D contract with the Norwegian government together with innovation within the Norwegian defense research lab.
“At the end of the five-year period,” Mr. Horvei added, “we should be ready for something new and better for the next five years. It’s a continuous evolution based upon customer know-how about the battlefield. We combine this with our knowledge about the technology to have an improved product at the end of five years.”
“I personally think it’s a really good system, weight, performance wise to give to the soldier. If I was sending my son to the battlefield, this is the kit which I would give him, because I think it’s a good compromise between the weight and protection level.”
New testing methods
In the future, NFM aims to develop more accurate and helpful body armor testing methods. “We think that the test methodology based upon shooting on clay is flawed,” Mr. Horvei explained, “It has no correlation to injury criteria. We are simply expected to be really good at protecting clay.
“If you take a standard like NIJ that’s a good standard if you’re going to go to Kentucky, that is. But there are very few in .44 Magnum in Europe and the .44 Magnum is what the weight, the price, and specification are based upon. In Europe, you need to think differently.
“Good protection is the compromise between what you’re willing to wear and the relevant threat. We’re trying to work out three-year program to try and find smarter assessments, to be able to tell the customer more about the protection we offer, not only how much displacement you have in clay. That doesn’t tell you energy distribution, max velocity, peak energy and whether different areas can be affected differently.”