Tag Archives: armor

Joint Light Tactical Vehicle

Way back in 2008 we talked about why the current Humvee was marginal at best in an environment full of IEDs.  In that same post, we mentioned some of the shortcomings of MRAP trucks as well. At the same time it started buying off the shelf existing MRAP designs, and producing up-armored Humvees, the Army and Marines also started a design program for a replacement vehicle, one designed specifically to have excellent mobility, armor, and survivability in an IED enviroment. This program, the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, or JLTV, has quietly been moving along. Oshkosh, AM General and Lockheed Martin have each built a handful of prototypes, and turned them over to an Army/Marine test.

The U.S. Army and Marine Corps have finished testing prototypes of the Humvee replacement known as the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle.

But results of the evaluations haven’t been released and manufacturers are still waiting for the program office to issue a request for proposals — initially expected this month — to begin the next round of competition.

Defense contracting giant Lockheed Martin Corp., truck-maker Oshkosh Corp. and Humvee-maker AM General LLC each delivered 22 JLTV prototypes to the Army for testing under engineering and manufacturing development contracts signed in 2012. Now, the companies are competing against each other to build 17,000 of the vehicles under a much bigger low-rate initial production contract.

First, no one in their right mind would buy a truck from LockMart. But Oshkosh and AM General both have sterling reputations for delivering quality trucks to the services.

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Oshkosh JLTV prototype

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AM General JLTV prototype

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LMT JLTV prototype

For old times sake, here’s an uparmored Humvee.

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At its heart, it’s still the same old Humvee, not intended to serve as a fighting vehicle. Its flat bottom and wheel wells trap the blast of explosions underneath. Contrast that to the three prototypes above. Each one uses some shaping to better disperse blast overpressure. The uparmored Humvee is also pretty much at the limit of growth capability for payload, and for electrical power. There simply isn’t room to add any more protection or mission equipment. Its off road mobility is already severely compromised compared to its original unarmored configuration.

The JLTV is designed to address those issues.  Of course, that won’t come cheap. I don’t know the unit cost for a current production M1151 Humvee. But I do know that a vanilla base model in 1982 was about $22,000. That’s about $52,000 adjusted for inflation. So my guess would be that a full up model, with armor and engine, transmission and suspension enhancements would probably run three to four times that, around $150,o00 to $200,000. The JLTV is looking to price at about $250,000 for a bare bones truck, and around $400,000 total unit cost including government furnished equipment.

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S-Tank Weapons Trials

That’s S-Tank, not “stank.”

The Swedish Stridsvagn 103 was a very unique design. When you think of the classic tank, you think of an armored hull on tracks, and a turret mounting the main gun.

The S103 instead dispensed with the turret, and fixed an auto-loading 105mm main gun to the hull. The gun was aimed by the driver/gunner by pivoting the tracks, and elevated or depressed via the hydraulic suspension system. This provided a relatively low profile vehicle. The drawback was that it could not fire accurately on the move, but since the Swedes saw its use as primarily defensive, that was not a terrible shortcoming to them.

While the design stressed avoiding being hit, attention was also paid to mitigating the effects of the vehicle being hit. And did they ever shoot the heck out of some prototypes to test it.

Be sure to hit the “cc” button for closed captions.

The S103 was developed in the early 1960s and entered into service in the late 1960s, with production ending in 1971 after 290 had been delivered.

Not content merely to have one weird major design feature, the S103 also had a very unique powerplant. A base diesel powerplant was used for slow movement and for aiming the gun. For higher speed operations, a gas turbine was also installed to boost power.

Retired in 1997, the S103 was replaced by a modified German built Leopard 2A5 known as the S122.

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TOW Missile Live Fire

A platoon of Bradley’s from 2-12 Cav conduct a TOW missile live fire at Graf in Germany.

 

That’s a heck of a lot of missiles. Back in my day, you’d be lucky to be allocated one missile, maybe two, for an entire platoon.

You’ll notice a small pop just before launch. When the gunner squeezes the trigger, that sends power to the missile, spins up the missile gyros, and activates the thermal battery to provide internal power to the missile.

It’s also pretty cool to see the guidance wires strung out, and the automatic wire cutting function. The impact fuze not only detonates the warhead, but it also sends the wire cut signal back to the launcher.

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The Armored Multipurpose Vehicle

The M113 entered service as the primary Armored Personnel Carrier for mechanized infantry formations around 1960. It also quickly became clear that its fundamentally sound design would be useful for many, many other roles, either in specialized variants or just for general usage. For instance, there are ambulance variants, and command post variants. The M113 was replaced as the prime carrier of the mechanized infantry by the M2 Bradley beginning in the early 1980s, but the M113 still soldiers on in these support roles. In fact, in the Armored Brigade Combat Team of today, there are more M113 variants in use than there are tanks or Bradleys.

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M1064 120mm Mortar Carrier based on the M113A3 chassis

But even though the upgrade of the fleet to the current M113A3 standard greatly improved the mobility of the carrier, it is rapidly becoming clear that the power, speed, cross country mobility, and ability to support command and control systems has reached the practical limit. It is time for a replacement vehicle.

The Army sees a need for roughly 3000 new vehicles. They want a new general purpose carrier, a mortar carrier, an ambulance, a command post, and a couple other versions.

What the Army doesn’t want is a clean sheet design, leading to a long, drawn out development program. The Army’s Future Combat System and Ground Combat Vehicle programs were disasters, costing billions of dollars in development, but not leading to any actual production contracts.

In fact, the Army knows exactly what it wants. It wants the basic hull and machinery of the Bradley, minus the turret.  A simple armored box, into which the appropriate mission equipment can be mounted. This stuff isn’t rocket science. In fact BAE Systems, the maker of the Bradley, has been trying to sell the Army various Bradley derivatives for years. And the basic Bradley chassis is quite sound, also serving as the basis for the M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System. Further, Bradley suspension and powertrain components were used to upgrade the AAV-7A1 Amtrac fleet, and are upgrading the M109A6 Paladin Integrated Product improved self propelled 155mm howitzer. Sharing that basic platform eases the supply and logistics train.

Of course, the DoD acquisition system is a nightmare. The Army can’t just pick up the phone and order what they want from BAE. They instead have to go through the internal acquisition process justifying the need for an M113 replacement, which takes time, manpower and money to realize something that everyone already knows. Then comes the fact that, when you start talking about spending a couple billion dollars, you have to take bids for contracts. So the Army published a Request For Proposals, or RFP. And in spite of very narrowly tailoring the RFP to pretty much say “we want to buy turretless Bradleys from BAE” the Army still ran into some trouble. General Dynamics, makers of the Stryker family of vehicles, protested to the Army that the RFP unfairly excluded Stryker variants from the competition. And they do have at least some point. At least one heavy BCT deployed to Iraq with Stryker ambulances in place of its M113 ambulances. But while a Stryker ambulance might have been suitable for Iraq, the Army can very easily see scenarios where such an ambulance would not be able to keep pace with tanks and Bradleys. That’s the whole point why it wants turretless Bradley vehicles.

General Dynamics has recently decided it won’t tie up the issue with a protest to the GAO (which would tie the program in knots for years). Instead, it will likely lean on friendly representatives in Congress to at least give them some small slice of the pie in future budgets. After all, the Army may want turretless Bradleys, but it can only buy what Congress tells it to.

Here’s the original “industry day” flyer on what the AMPV objectives were.

 

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The BBC’s 1964 Masterpiece “The Great War”

Of all the events of the Twentieth Century, it is the First World War that has had the most dramatic and longest-lasting impact on the psyche of Western civilization, more so than all the events that followed.   For anyone with an abiding interest in that war, the 1964 BBC documentary The Great War is an invaluable reference to understanding.  Narrated by Sir Michael Redgrave, the 26-part documentary is a superbly-crafted work.  The tenor of the broadcasts reflects the erosion of the naïve hopes of the warring parties in 1914 into the grim fatalism that the years of slaughter evoked, and the upheaval that would ultimately topple the crowned heads of Germany, Russia, Austria-Hungary, and Serbia.  BBC producers make excellent use of voice to read the actual words of the key participants such as Edward Grey, Bethmann-Hollweg, Conrad von Hotzendorf, Joffre, Haig, Falkenhayn, and others.  The series features remarkable and little-seen motion footage of the world of 1914-18, including the civilians, the politicians, the armies, and the great battles of that war.   The battle footage heavily emphasizes the two great killers of that war (in inverse order), the machine gun, and modern breech-loading recoil-dampened artillery.

Of note also are the poignant, and sometimes extremely moving, interviews with the participants of events of the great tragedy.  Some had been in the thick of the fighting, others young subalterns or staff officers at the sleeve of the decision-makers.   Most remarkably, the BBC managed to produce a documentary about momentous events that changed the world and yet also managed to allow the viewer insight into the inestimable human tragedy that these events summoned.   At the time of the release of The Great War, those events were closer in time to the audience than the beginning of the Vietnam War is to our contemporary world.   The twenty-six episodes are around forty minutes each.  Worth every second of the time spent.

Oh, and as the credits roll at the end of each episode, one can spot the name of a very young (19 years old) contributor named Max Hastings.

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CVCU

Esli has a set or two. I used to have a couple. They’re popular with tankers, but only rarely have I seen mech infantry crews wearing them.

Armored vehicles are playgrounds for fire. The armor itself doesn’t burn, but just about everything else inside a track loves to burn. Fuel, ammo, furnishings, cables, rubber seals, grease, hydraulic fluid,  people….

And burns are one of the major causes of injuries and wounds for armored crewmen. And because armor vehicles are often quite messy to work on and around, the traditional uniform for tankers was a set of coveralls.  But cotton coveralls, especially with petroleum products smeared on them, gave little protection against fire.

And so, the Army, in its wisdom, developed the Combat Vehicle Crewman’s Uniform, or CVCU.

The basis of the design was the traditional CWU-27P flight suit. Like the flight suit, it is made of fire resistant Nomex fabric.  But there are quite a few differences.

First, it is substantially thicker than the thin flight suit. That helps minimized tearing.

Second, while a pilot might only wear his flight suit for a few hours, vehicle crews can expect to spend days wearing their suit. For that reason, there’s a flap at the seat of the CVCU to make defecating easier. Not dignified, by any stretch, but easier.

Third, armored vehicles don’t have ejection seats. If a wounded crewman has to be pulled from a vehicle, it’s quite difficult. To make it just a little easier, there’s a velcro flap across the back. Opening the flap reveals a nylon tape that forms a harness under the wearer’s shoulders. The tape makes lifting or dragging the wounded much easier.

cvcu

In my day, the CVCU was issued in a olive drab color known as OG106.

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Today it is issued in the very unattractive UCP pattern.

In addition to the coverall, the CVCU came with some accoutrements such as leather and Nomex gloves, a Nomex cold weather balaclava, and, in the past, a lightweight flexible body armor vest similar to what police wear.

Outside of actual live fire gunnery, CVCUs were unpopular with most of the mech infantry I knew. But personally, I loved them. As a crewmember, anytime we went to the field, I wore them.

You see, CVCU were organizational clothing, issued to the soldier when he was assigned to a crew, and turned back in when he was transferred to another post.

And since they were OCIE, if they were damaged or worn out, or otherwise unserviceable, they could be exchanged at no cost for a new set.

BDUs, on the other hand, had to be replaced at the expense of the soldier.

Now, why would I wear out a perfectly nice $60 set of BDUs in the field, when I could risk $0 by wearing the CVCU?

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Syrian Rebels use a TOW Missile to snipe a tank

Via Funkers 350.

 

Where did the FSA get the US made TOW missile system? Probably not from us. But there are literally dozens of nations that use it, and it can’t have been too hard for someone to slip pretty fair numbers of the TOW system and some older missiles to the rebels. You could fit the whole thing in a car.

And you’ll notice it’s pretty dirt simple to assemble and operate (at least, during daylight, against a single stationary target).

Notice also the relatively long time of flight for the shot. The TOW is a fairly slow missile, with a time of flight of up to 23 seconds out to its maximum range.

And finally, notice also that the tank (my eyes are failing, I can’t tell if it’s a T-55 or a T-62) has plenty of secondary explosions in the aftermath. Tanks may be a steel box on treads, but they’re also packed with stuff that loves to burn.

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