British military scientists are developing a space-age “force field” that can protect armoured vehicles and tanks by repelling incoming fire.

The new armour uses electrical pulses to repel rockets, shrapnel and other ammunition that might damage a vehicle, according to

According to researchers at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL), it is possible to incorporate material known as supercapacitors into armour to turn the vehicle into a kind of giant battery.

The energy stored in the supercapacitor can be rapidly dumped onto the metal plating on the outside of the vehicle to produce a strong electromagnetic field when an incoming threat is detected.

In addition to the incoming rounds and projectiles, the force field could prevent rocket propelled grenades (RPG) from reaching their target, if timed correctly.

DSTL armour and protection science and technology centre head professor Bryn James said the electric armour also had the potential to dramatically decrease the weight of military vehicles and tanks.

“Conventional armour is just a lump of metal but an RPG round can punch through more than a foot of steel. Carrying around enough armour to protect against that is extremely heavy,” he said.

DSTL tested a different type of electric armour technology in 2002 that used several layers of metal with electric current flowing through them.

During those tests, the chassis of a Warrior infantry carrier fitted with the electric armour, survived repeated attack by RPGs before being driven away with only minor damage.