In 1985, the U.S. Department of State (DOS) created an anti-ram standard for protecting its embassies. The standard was designed to stop a medium-duty, single-unit truck and accounted for three levels of blast penetration.
“Anti-ram barriers are typically used around government buildings, infrastructure facilities, military installations, or any other location where terrorist activity is a threat,” explains Dean Alberson, program manager and assistant director at the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI). “These barriers minimize damage should a car bomb explode.”
In 2003, DOS revised its standard, limiting penetration concerns to 3 feet, thereby acknowledging the reality that consular facilities are often squeezed into high-traffic urban areas on small lots. Other agencies—like the Department of Defense (DOD)—found the new standard useful . . . but incomplete.
DOD kept the original penetration ratings from the 1985 version to meet its own needs. (Military bases are typically surrounded by wide open spaces, which create a much greater stopping distance for enemy vehicles.)
“Other concerns cropped up as well,” says Alberson. “The 2003 standard assumed a terrorist would use a 2.5-ton diesel truck to carry out an attack. But recent realities in Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries make it clear that practically any vehicle will do.”
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers wanted a more flexible standard, so ASTM created a team in fall 2003 to address their need. Led by Alberson, the team developed ASTM F2656-07, Standard Test Method for Vehicle Crash Testing of Perimeter Barriers, that reintroduces more penetration ratings, adds design flexibility to cover a wide range of vehicles, and specifies different impact velocities for some vehicle categories.
To meet the standard, vendor barriers must be tested by an accredited laboratory like TTI’s Proving Ground Research Facility, which has run approximately 100 such tests. The facility then issues a mandatory report on how the equipment performed.
DOS adopted ASTM F2656-07 in October 2008 and activated it on February 1, 2009.