Abstract Based on the understanding of material characteristics and interactions between projectile and target, a lightweight hybrid composite armor target consisting of alumina ceramics pellets and ultrahigh molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) was designed and prepared. The target areal density of the armor panel was 7.5g/cm2. The standard size of the armor panel was 300mm×300mm×43mm. The ballistic performance of alumina/UHMWPE composite armor against an impact of 12.7mm armor piercing (AP) projectile was investigated at the nominal velocity of 818m/s. The energy absorbing mechanism revealed that the armor was able to protect against the projectile, together with weight saving.