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Mobility land.

Until recently the mobility of troops and supplies along the battlefield was provided by unprotected vehicles, as the linear battlefield separated the combat zone from the rear support zone; threats against vehicles moving at a safe distance from the front lines were thus quite limited. Since the end of the Cold War, however, what used to be called the 'forward edge of the battlefield' has blurred into oblivion, resulting in the threat spreading to the whole operational scenario.

As a result of this new war zone pattern, the once unprotected liaison vehicles now need to provide a certain degree of safety to their crews. As a consequence mobility vehicles hitherto used for non-combat purposes tend resemble those operated by combat troops in terms of protection, although their payload and dimensions are normally smaller.

US Mobility

The success story of the High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV) family, better known as Hummer or Humvee, dates back to 1984 when the first M1025 models were delivered to the US Army. More than 240,000 vehicles have been produced since. Designed for a war that thankfully remained what it was--cold--the vehicle got its true acid test during the first Iraq/Kuwait war in 1991 and in former Yugoslavia. Those two theatres revealed a new type of warfare and, as for many other vehicles, called for a serious second look at crew protection. A host of Humvee variants materialised, but to meet the need for increasing numbers of armoured Humvees, AM General responded with production line-installed armour for the M1100 series in 2005. This includes underbody and perimeter ballistic protection.

Due to the lessons learned from the Iraqi and Afghan theatres, numerous up-armouring kits have been developed, the latest being the Frag Kit 6, which provides protection against explosively-formed penetrators, and Frag Kit 7, which adds overhead protection to the Objective Gunner's Protection Kit, as well as additional roof protection. Although AM General works closely with its military customers and a number of armour and material vendors to maximize protection and survivability and at the same time minimise weight and size, the armour used in today's production Humvees make use of the latest advances in composite materials and transparent armour (ballistic glass).

All those kits have, however, considerably altered the vehicle payload-protection-performance equation. To offset the weight of armour and to enhance performance, payload, reliability and vehicle life cycle, AM General has co-operated with the military services to apply combat-theatre experience and new technologies in the development of the expanded capacity and reliability enhanced Humvees produced today. Among the many improvements are: turbo-charged 6.5-liter V8 diesel engine, geared fan drive and new cooling pack and shroud for better engine cooling, rear differential cooler, new three-piece frame rails and cross-members, new shock absorbers, new Aarm bushes, redesigned reduced-effort steering geometry and linkage, new power-steering pump, new 24-bolt wheels with increased load rating, reengineered geared hub assembly, reengineered airlifting brackets and enhanced corrosion resistance. These and other advancements are incorporated in the M1151, M1152, M1165 and M1167 (Tow) models presently rolling off the assembly line.

As a natural follow-on to the ECV currently in production, AM General developed the ECV2, which combines Humvee design features with newly engineered parts and systems to restore the payload and performance specified by the Army, with the proven protection of modular armour. The new model has raised ground clearance for blast dissipation, improved suspension, electrical, air conditioning and other systems and a more spacious cab to accommodate crew, combat gear and electronics with much-improved visibility for situational awareness. At the same time, the ECV2's cargo bed dimensions and mounting points match earlier models to accommodate the many shelters and systems built for the earlier types. The ECV2 will bridge the gap with the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV)--the successor to the venerable Hummer that should be fielded around 2015. The JLTV should provide [much less than] increased force protection, survivability and capacity over the UAH while balancing mobility and transportability requirements with total ownership costs [much greater than], as some official documents state.

The JLTV programme, led by the US Army and the US Marine Corps, was announced in January 2006 and is aimed at providing integrated survivability, integrated Command, Control, Communications, Computer, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) facilities, improved net payload capacity with armour installed and improved mobility both with and without armour, or--as stated by another official document--[much less than]the JLTV will provide scalable C4I and adaptable levels of protected mobility to Fire Teams and Combat Support Teams [much greater than].

Five teams lined up on the starting line, some of them showing their solutions even before the requirements were drafted. These teams were:

* Lockheed Martin Systems Integration, together with BAE Systems Mobility & Protection Systems, Alcoa Defense and JWF Defense Systems

* BAE Systems and International Military and Government (affiliate of Navistar International)

* General Tactical Vehicles (GTV), a joint venture between General Dynamics Land Systems and AM General

* Textron Systems, together with Boeing, Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), Millenworks and Carlson Technology

* Northrop Grumman together with Oshkosh Corporation and Plasan of Israel.

The JLTV is not a single vehicle but a family of vehicles, with three different payload categories, all of them sling-transportable under a CH-53 or a CH-47 helicopter.

The lighter is the Category A, with a 1588-kg payload capacity, to be developed in a single configuration known as the General Purpose Mobility with four seats. Two such vehicles should be transportable in a C-130 although only one of the heavier in this category is required to be airliftable by Hercules.

The Category B will have a 1814 to 2041-kg capacity and is expected to be developed in the greater number of variants including infantry carrier/fire team carrier with six seats, reconnaissance (also with six seats) only for the Army, Command & Control On-The-Move (C20TM) with four seats, heavy gun carrier with four seats plus the gunner for military police, patrol and escort role, Itas Tow carrier with four seats, utility with two seats only for Marines and ambulance with three seats and two litters.

The heavier version will be Category C, with a 2313-kg load capacity, to be produced in two versions: shelter carrier, utility and prime mover with two seats on the one hand and an ambulance, with three seats and four litters on the other.

Besides another ten different sub-configurations, the programme also includes the development of trailers for each payload category, which must have equivalent payload and mobility to support prime movers. One of the key requirement for the JLTV family concerns electrical power generation. This is set by the military at seven kW (threshold) and ten kW (objective) on board power and ten kW (threshold) and 30 kW (objective) for exportable power for the infantry fire team carriers, heavy guns carriers and anti-tank missile carriers, with a 'silent watch endurance' of two hours (threshold) and six hours (objective) with two Sincgars radios, the Blue Force Tracker and a remote weapon station. The long-range surveillance vehicles, general purpose and C20TM, however, have higher requirements in terms of on-board power being increased to ten kW (t) and 14 kW (o) with endurance rising to four hours (t) and twelve (o), with on-board equipment including the same mentioned earlier plus a long-range acquisition sensor.

A 27-month Technology Development (TD) phase was set. The request for proposals was issued in early 2008 and proposals delivered in April. This led to a down-selection of three of the five teams, the winners being BAE Systems, General Tactical Vehicles and Lockheed Martin Systems Integration.

However, the two excluded teams filed a protest which froze the programme until mid-February 2009, when the protest was rejected. This acted as the kick-off for the development phase that will lead to the manufacture of seven vehicles and four trailers for the three principal missions; infantry carrier, general purpose and utility, together with ballistic hulls and armour components for survivability tests and with the design of all ten sub-configurations.

BAE Systems and Navistar unveiled the first prototype of their vehicle, named Valanx, in February 2008, four months after having announced their collaboration on the JLTV programme, and were awarded a TD contract in October 2008. The team leverages the experience of both companies in armoured and tactical vehicles development (combined, they produced over 83% of all Mraps acquired by the US forces in recent years). BAE Systems will provide its design capability while Navistar will put its high-volume production capability to good use. The Valanx prototype shown at AUSA tipped the scales 7258 kg and featured a V-shaped hull as well as advanced lightweight armour. It is also equipped with lightweight independent suspension and drivetrain solutions developed by Arvin Meritor.

The company began working on new products and technologies for the JLTV programme in 2006, participating in the Nevada Automotive Test Center's Combat Tactical Vehicle Technical Demonstrator programme and was then selected to provide a high-wheel-travel independent suspension drive axle, pneumatic brake system and electronic stability control. Arvin Meritor has developed advanced technology solutions for the JLTV that include the Meritor lightweight, high mobility independent suspension, an integrated all-wheel drive system, a central tire inflation system, semi-active damping and Meritor Wabco hydraulic braking systems with electronic stability control.

Arvin Meritor is not only providing such systems to the BAE Systems-led team but also to one of its competitors, the team led by Lockheed Martin Systems Integration. Lockheed Martin is not only prime contractor, but also the design authority with systems integration, advanced systems and supportability responsibilities. BAE Systems is in charge of armour, high-volume assembly and cab design, Alcoa will address chassis design and assembly and 'material knowledge', while JWF Defense Systems takes care of fabricated assemblies and the trailers. This team unveiled its Category B model, the infantry carrier, in October 2007 followed, in February 2008, by the Category C Utility Light vehicle known as JLTV-C-UTL. The latter is a 10,886-kg GVW vehicle with a 2495 kg payload capacity. It is powered by a 6.7-litre Cummins turbo-diesel engine coupled to an Allison 2500 transmission. The maximum speed is in excess of 120 km/h and the cruising range more than 640 km. The vehicle can transport an S250 shelter, but the addition of a bolt-on third axle doubles the payload figure. In October 2008 the team unveiled its Category A General Purpose vehicle. This has a gross weight of 8256 kg with the required payload. It is powered by a 4.5 1 Cummins turbo-diesel and retains the same transmission, speed and range of the Cat. C model. In February 2009 the second prototype of the Cat. B infantry carrier variant was unveiled, featuring the same engine as the Cat. C and the same weight. By early June the four prototypes had totalled over 64,000 km in combined tests.

The third winning team, General Tactical Vehicles, is proposing a design based on a robust lightweight hybrid hull equipped with a semi-active suspension system and a digital cockpit, although no further details have been unveiled by the time these lines went to press.

With its Engineering and Manufacturing Design (EMD) phase scheduled to start in 2011 and a production phase foreseen from 2013 on, the JLTV contract volume is estimated at approximately $ 20 billion, making it the largest military vehicle programme in the next two decades in the United States. However, some clouds shaded the 'jointness' of the programme, when, last May, General James Conway, US Marines Corps Commander, declared that the service might have to depart from the programme if the weight remains at 9071 kg, as this would not be compatible with its expeditionary capability.

The JLTV is not, however, the only major land mobility programme, as the Future Tactical Truck System (FTTS) intended to replace the current support fleet vehicle is also underway. Its aim was to cope with the reduced logistical requirement of the Future Combat System vehicles, but following the cancellation of the 'manned vehicle' segment of the family the path by which the FTTS programme will evolve remains to be seen. The FTTS programme followed the FCS with a two-year delay in order to capitalise on research and development expenses and, compared to the JLTV, the FTTS should be a much more advanced and innovative vehicle.
                    M1097A2             M1 151 (base)

Gross Weight        4672 kg             5216 kg

Payload                                 1814 kg

Curb weight                             3402 kg

Engine              120 kW (160 hp)     190 hp

Transmission        4 speed electronic  4 speed electronic
                    auto                auto

Automatic traction  no                  no

ABS                 no                  no

Crew space          4.39                4.39
(metres (3))

Instruments         analogue            analogue

C4ISR               Hard Wired/Mounted  Hard Wired/Mounted

                    M1 165 (base)       ECVII XM1211

Gross Weight        5216 kg

Payload             2245 kg

Curb weight         2971 kg

Engine              142 kW (190 hp)     186 kW (250 hp)

Transmission        4 speed electronic  6 speed electronic auto

Automatic traction  no                  yes

ABS                 no                  yes

Crew space          4.39                5.30
(metres (3))

Instruments         analogue            electronic/J1939

C4ISR               Hard Wired/Mounted  Slide In/Out Plug-n-Play

A noteworthy point here is that the only hybrid propulsion vehicle, the one proposed by Northrop Grumman/Oshkosh, was not selected. Within the FTTS family of vehicles the Utility Vehicle is worthy of a few lines in this survey, since it meets the required payload of 2722 kg. The 2005 concept review for the Utility Vehicle 1 (UV1) called for a two-man vehicle with a gross weight of 6720 kg, a curb weight of 4375 kg for the base chassis, a maximum speed of at least 105 km/h, a diesel engine with electric drive, in-hub electric motors, front steer-by-wire system and rear steering and independent suspensions with variable damping. A support variant, a command and control vehicle and an ambulance were to be derived from the UV1 chassis, the actual curb weight varying with the final types. Numerous survival features were to be included such as cabin NBC protection, integral 7.62-mm ballistic protection, blast protection kits, as well as C4I features such as a glass cockpit with multi-function display were also envisaged. Air transportability in C-17, C-141 and C-130 aircraft was mandatory, with two vehicles being transported in a Hercules. A UV2 study was to push gross weight up to 8180 kg.
Panhard:              PVP                  PVP HD

Gross Vehicle Weight  5355 kg              7600 kg

Empty weight (w/o     4480 kg              5600 kg

Payload               875 kg               2000 kg

Length                4282 mm              4862 mm

Width                 1970 mm              2540 mm

Height (w/o weapon    2135 mm              2256 mm

Wheelbase             3000 mm              3200 mm

Track                 1640 mm              1820 mm

Ground clearance      272 mm               373 mm

Engine                diesel Iveco 107 kW  diesel Iveco F1C 123
                      (146 Hp)             kW (163 Hp)

Maximum speed         120 km/h             105 km/h

Range                 800 km               700 km

Ballistic protection  Level 2              Level 3

In February 2006 the US Tank automotive and Armaments Command (Tacom) down-selected two companies for producing the UV and the Manoeuvre Sustainment Vehicle (MSV) prototypes; the demonstration contract was assigned to International Military and Government and to Lockheed Martin, However, when the technology demon strators showed up at Fort Lewis for the first trials in March 2007 the 8164-kg target was exceeded. The International vehicle, the smaller of the two, stood at 8390 kg; its propulsion system is based on a hybrid-electric powerpack, it features a roof-mounted remote-control weapon system, and its all-wheel steering enables it to move also sideways.

The V-hull Lockheed Martin vehicle was much heavier at 11,340 kg, and was equipped with an articulated drive, adjustable height suspension and a listing system to allow extreme cross country movements. How much the technologies demonstrated in these vehicles will be adopted into future light ground vehicles remains to be seen.


The other service to have been heavily involved in both the Iraqi and the Afghan operational theatres is the British Army. Developed in 1992 for Northern Ireland, the Snatch Land Rover is based on the Defender 110 equipped with the Camac CAV 100 series composite armour from NP Aerospace. This increased its combat weight to ensure good ballistic protection, but proved not to be the best solution against roadside bombs, a threat that was not as consistent in Northern Ireland. When the Snatch-2A 24 V RHD (Right Hand Drive) configurations were deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan their limits became quite evident and attracted considerable criticism from the media and public opinion. The British Army launched an acquisition programme with a view to replace them for operations in the most dangerous areas.

One of these vehicles is the Vector, an armoured variant of the Pinzgauer 6 x 6, with a 6600-kg gross weight. Two orders, a first one for 66 vehicles followed by a second for 100 resulted in the operational deployment of the first vehicles in the first quarter of 2007. Although improved with Kevlar floors, bullet proof glass and run-flat tires, the Vector proved too vulnerable to roadside bombs and mines, as both driver and vehicle commander sit over the front wheels, leading to the vehicle's withdrawal from Afghanistan.

A vehicle that meets the Afghan theatre requirement is the Mastiff, a version of the 6 x 6 American Cougar produced by Force Protection. However, at 23.5 tones this is a totally different class of vehicle. Another vehicle aimed at replacing the Snatch is the Jackal, a high mobility 4 x 4 vehicle based on the HMT 400 series chassis, HMT standing for High Mobility Transporter. Powered by a 5.9-litre Cummins kicking 134 kW (195 hp) and with a gross weight of 7000 kg, it can carry a payload of 2300 kg, but most of which has been taken up by side and floor armour plates. The vehicle's open top allows the rear gunner to handle its 12.7 mm machine gun or 40 mm automatic grenade launcher, while the driver and vehicle commander complete the crew in the two front seats (from where the commander also mans a general-purpose machine gun). Another version, known as the Jackal 2, has also been ordered. The Jackal 2 features improved manoeuvrability and reliability, carries an extra crewmember while its main armament has been moved forward. A Jackal 3 convertible patrol vehicle was shown by Lockheed Martin (which took over HMT in 2006) at DVD 2009. Based on the HMT 600 6 x 6 chassis it is provided with a new semi-enclosed armoured body mainly to protect troops when operating in urban terrain.
Renault:         Carrier      Scout    Station Wagon  APC         HI

Weight (tonnes)  7.7/9.6      7.7/9.6  9.6            9.6/11      11

Payload          1.8/3.7      2.1/4    2.7            1.8/3.3     1.5

Wheelbase        3.8/4.1/4.5  3.55     3.55           3.8         3.55

Passengers       two          four     two            six to ten  four

A requirement for Tactical Support Vehicles was identified in 2008 by the British Army, including three categories: light, medium and heavy. For the light TSV a 6 x 6 version of the Jackal named Coyote, based on Supacat HMT 600 chassis, was chosen. This vehicle, with a gross weight of slightly over ten tonnes, is intended to carry ammunition, fuel, rations and other equipment in support of other vehicles.

The British Army has two major programmes pending in the light vehicles field. The first is the LPPV (Light Protected Patrol Vehicle), for which a pre-questionnaire was to be answered by late July. Known bidders are Renault Trucks teamed with Land Rover with a Sherpa armoured variant, Iveco DV with a derivative of the LMV, Oshkosh with a variant of its Sandcat and Creation UK with its Project Zephyr built together with Babcock Land Systems, although others might have answered the questionnaire since.

The tender for some 400 vehicles should be finalised relatively soon as it seems that the requirement is to field these vehicles in late 2010. On the other hand, the OUVS (Operational Utility Vehicle System) requirement, for which seven companies had been down-selected for the 'Small' segment of the contract (aiming at a two to three-tonne payload platform), seems to have been postponed for at least one year. The seven companies were Babcock, General Dynamics, Iveco, Krauss-Maffei Wegmann, Lockheed Martin, Mercedes and Navistar Defense. The eventual vehicle is to replace a number of light logistic vehicles currently in service in the British Army and with the Royal Marines, the 'Heavy' vehicle aiming at the replacement of the upper tier. Not only the programme has slipped, but it is also quite possible that not all the vehicles will be replaced, reducing the number of vehicles to be contracted from over 15,000 to a few thousand.

French Solutions

Panhard was one of the precursors in the light armoured vehicles field with its VBL (Vehicule Blinde Leger), which was selected in 1985 by the French Army. However, the need emerged for a cheaper vehicle (the VBL was born as recce vehicle for tank regiments and to act as a weapon carrier, especially for anti-tank missile teams). A new product was thus developed, the PVP (Petit Vehicule Protege, literally small protected vehicle dubbed in English AVL for Armoured Vehicle Light) and acquired in 2003 by the service. With an age difference of about 20 years, and although the monocoque architecture of the VBL offers better protection against mines and roadside bombs, in terms of ballistic protection and comfort the PVP is superior.

Seating two to seven men depending on mission type and with a gross weight of around five tonnes, it has a tubular chassis and a steel armoured body providing Level 2 ballistic protection, while its protected floor can withstand the explosion of a DM 31 anti-personnel mine. The French Army has acquired over 1300 vehicles that are being distributed to those combat support and combat service support units not equipped with the VBL, as no more P4 unprotected jeeps are being deployed downrange.

Numerous versions were developed; two for engineers, one for explosive disposal teams and one for divers, one for artillery target acquisition batteries equipped with the Drac drone, one for electronic warfare (which hosts listening and jamming equipment) and one for traffic management elements. A first export contract is soon expected to materialise, while a further evolution of the PVP aimed at special forces is in the pipeline.

Building on PVP experience, Panhard developed the PVP HD, which stands for 'Heavy Duty'. This features a longer wheelbase (3200 mm versus 3000), is about 40 cm longer and allows the transport of systems that do not fit into the base version. With a higher payload and a 7.6-tonne gross weight, one of the PVP HD configurations is ambulance, with which Panhard intends to soon answer a French request for proposals. In addition, Panhard has partnered with Rheinmetall of Germany with cross-hairs on the German GFF programme. A version of the PVP known as the Gavial is being proposed for the GFF Category 1 vehicles, while the PVP HD, or Gavial Plus, aims at Category 2.

The other French producer active in this segment of ground vehicles is Renault Trucks. The company developed the Sherpa Light family in different versions, with two principal wheelbases of 3.55 and 3.80 metres. Sitting on the shorter end is a Scout version which late last June was chosen by Nato for its Blast and Bullet Proof Protected Vehicle Rough Terrain--PVRT international tender issued in 2008 to meet liaison and reconnaissance needs. The Station Wagon and the Hi version also use the same chassis. The longer wheelbase is adopted for the Carrier version (which can also rest on an even longer chassis--4.1 or 4.5 metres), which has also been chosen by Nato as well as by the French Army to transport signal systems, the latter using them for its Syracuse satcom system. A light APC also uses this chassis. Renault announced last February that it will co-operate together with Land Rover to bid in the Operational Utility Vehicle System competition in Britain, the Sherpa 4 x 4 having already been short-listed; if they win the contract the vehicles will be assembled by Land Rover in Britain.

The Other Actors

Although it is impossible to describe all the utility vehicles produced around the world, some of them are worthy of a few lines here either because they originate from emerging companies, or because they might set new standards in this field.

In early July 2009 the prototype of the Armoured Multi-Purpose Vehicle (AMPV) developed by the consortium formed by Krauss-Maffei Wegmann and Rheinmetall Landsysteme was shown for the first time to a selected audience before the start of company trials. The AMPV family will include five different vehicles, one air-transportable, two light and two heavy, with one patrol vehicle and one mission kit carrier for each of the latter two categories. The first prototype is the 'Type 2 a' configuration (heavy patrol vehicle), which is being proposed for the GFF Category 2 and can be considered a fully armoured vehicle. For the purpose of this article the two light versions are more appropriate, with a 7.5-tonne gross weight and a 1.5-tonne payload capacity. Powered by a Steyr 200 kW (272 hp) engine, they have a self-supporting monocoque safety cell which is designed to provide protection against a basic mine and against roadside bombs with add-on armour kits. The consortium plans to start the development of the AMPV Type 1 a/b in 2011, following the launch of the Type 2 a/b series production.
Krauss-Maffei Wegmann Mungo:

                           Mungo 1    Mungo 2  Mungo 3

Weight (tonnes)            5.3        5.4      5.4
Payload (tonnes)           2.0        2.0      1.0-1.5
Length (metres)            4.47       4.48     4.53 to 4.71
Width (metres)             1.94       1.94     1.94
Height (metres)            2.44       2.14     2.09
Height (flapped down)      1.89       1.89     1.89
Crew                       2-10       2        4-5
Useful volume (metres(3))  8 approx.  7        6 to 8
Ballistic protection       Level 1    Level 1  Level 1-3
Mine protection            DM31       DM 31    DM 31
Top speed                  90 km/h (electronically limited)
Airportability             CH-53, CH-47, C-130, C-160, A400M

Using the Mowag Duro III as a base, Rheinmetall also developed the Yak 6 x 6 multi-role vehicle which is offered with various mission configurations, such as command and control, reconnaissance, communication, logistic, mobile medical team, military police, and so forth. Seating a crew of two plus ten men, the troop transport version has a gross weight of 13 tonnes and a payload capacity that can vary between two and 5.5 tonnes depending on the level of ballistic protection adopted. The Bundeswehr has acquired 100 carrier vehicles and 114 multi-purpose bodies and precisely 31 Mobile Medical Team, eight Transport of Prisoners, six Water Cannon, 23 Command post Military Police, 23 Air Force Security, two Milgeo and 21 EOD. Already used for the Luna drone system, a new version equipped with a special landing net, which will avoid the use of the parachute, is under development as well as a new Biological Recce vehicle and a radar vehicle equipped with the new Bur sensor. Some 30 vehicles in Luna and medical team configurations are in service in Afghanistan.

Numerous Hummer-like vehicles have been produced around the world, one of them being the Spanish Vamtac produced by Uro. With a gross weight of 5.3 tonnes and a payload of between 1.5 and 2.5 tonnes, it is provided in different armoured or unarmoured versions, and has been adopted by the Spanish forces.

The Bin Jabr Group of the United Arab Emirates is producing a family of vehicles called Nimr, in 4 x 4 and 6 x 6 configurations, with gross weights ranging from 8.25 to 9.25 tonnes. The various models include numerous unarmoured configurations such as cargo with single cabin, station wagon and open top. Standard horses come from a Cummins 250-hp engine, but armoured versions rely on a 300-hp engine. All equipped with independent suspension, air conditioning, central tyre inflation system, they are being sold to the home forces which have already ordered 149 4 x 4 single-cabin vehicles, 181 4 x 4 double-cabin, 94 station wagons for signal units and 74 station wagons for air defence units. A further batch of 6 x 6 Nimr has been ordered for signals monitoring purposes. The Nimr has already obtained a first export success with Libya, which ordered over 60 in the station wagon configuration with Level 3 ballistic protection and Level 3a mine protection. The potential Libyan market for the Nimr is estimated at about 2000 vehicles.


A category on its own is that of vehicles that can be transported in the cargo bay of a helicopter. In order to have sufficient manoeuvre capacity and the ability to move ammunition and fire support weapons on the battlefield, air assault troops absolutely need some form of agile vehicle. Weight and dimensions are of course limited by the air vehicle's dimensions and this category of vehicles is therefore normally unarmoured and does not provide the protection that is required nowadays in non-conventional operational scenarios. This often leads to criticism against such vehicles, or even to programme cancellations. However, negating light troops a form of transport means that would enable them to speed up an operation and thereby actually reducing exposure, hardly is a sound decision. Numerous vehicles have been developed or are being developed to fit in most commonly used transport helicopters such as the US CH-53 and the CH-47. Recently attempts were made to develop vehicles for the new European NH90 medium transport helicopter and the V-22 tilt-rotor aircraft.

Starting with the Osprey, the US Marine Corps recently fielded the M1161 Internally Transportable Vehicle (ITV), developed and manufactured by General Dynamics OTS and American Growler. With a gross weight of 3810 kg, this four-seater is 4.08 metres long, 1.52 wide (to cope with the Osprey maximum load width of 1.73 metres) and 1.94 high--although height can be reduced to 1.40 metres in transport configuration. Including basic issue items its curb weight is 1497 kg. The M1161 is the transport vehicle for the Expeditionary Fire Support System (EFSS), the mortar system made up of two vehicles, one M327 rifled 120-mm mortar and a trailer for ammunition transport. The first EFSS was delivered to 1/10th Marine Artillery regiment in January 2009, and the Corps plans to acquire 66 for eleven artillery battalions. Criticised for its lack of protection, the M1161 is derived from the old M151 jeep, although many improvements were adopted, and can also be transported inside the CH-53 Sea Stallion helicopter.

The CH-47 internal width of 2.28 metres allows the transport of non-specifically developed vehicles such as Land Rovers (the Chinook having been the workhorse of British Special Forces using 'Pinkie' long wheelbase Land Rovers). The Jackal, which is being acquired by the British Army to replace Snatch Land Rovers, is also transportable in the CH-47, and so are the unprotected Supacat and the Pinzgauer in its Vector armoured configuration.

Krauss-Maffei Wegmann designed the Mungo to the requirements of the German Armed Forces, which intended to equip their airborne units with a light protected vehicle that could fit into a CH-53 helicopter. Based on a Multicar chassis, the 5.3-tonne Mungo can carry ten equipped soldiers with side-armour panels (Level 1 or 2, or even 3). The soldiers can easily use their weapons when the top of the rear compartment is open, while the cabin has roof protection. In addition, the Mungo provides protection against mines up to Level 2. The preparation to embark the Mungo on board a CH-53 can be carried out in less than five minutes. Three basic variants have been produced. Variant 1 has two seats in the cabin and eight in the rear, which can be installed and removed rapidly thanks to a quick-change system. It has a payload capacity of two tonnes and can tow a 3.5-tonne trailer. This version has been deployed to Afghanistan since 2003 and is used as a patrol vehicle. Variant 2 is slightly longer and is equipped with an integrated high-performance hydraulic system, a flexible lift and transport system (Flextrans) and a rapid-change system. Finally, Variant 3 differs from the others as the cabin and rear compartment are protected by a roof. Ballistic and mine protection reach Level 3 and 2A respectively and the vehicle can withstand the blast from 100 kg of explosive at lateral distance of five metres. Variant 3 is also equipped with a remotely controlled turret for self-defence, air conditioning and NBC protection units, and has a more powerful engine.

The Mungo competitor in the bid for the Bundeswehr was the Rheinmetall Wolf ESK/LIV light infantry vehicle, based on the Mercedes-Benz G 270 CDI chassis. Air-transportable inside a CH-53 it can carry up to ten soldiers, offers partial ballistic protection against small arms and fragments and can optionally be equipped with protection against anti-personnel mines.

The smaller helicopter for which it is envisaged to develop a four-wheeled vehicle is the NH90. The most critical dimension is height, as top clearance on the ramp is limited. Panhard has developed the A3F vehicle originally as an air-droppable system, but it also fits inside the NH90. With a curb weight of 1350 kg, it is 1.58 metres wide and 1.4 metres high (roll-over bar folded) and can carry a 1160-kg payload including the driver and two passengers. Powered by a 92-hp Peugeot engine it can reach 130 km/h and has a 700 km range. It is used as command vehicle, with a forward mounted 5.56 or 7.62-mm machine gun, but a central mounting can host a Nexter 20-mm M621 cannon, a 40-mm automatic grenade launcher or a Milan anti-tank missile post.

Another vehicle, this one specifically developed for the NH90, is the Rhein-metall Tokeh. With a gross weight of 2400 kg and powered by an 85.5-kW (116 hp) Iveco F1A engine it seats two passengers and has a payload of 600 kg. Its 1.6-metre width and 1.4-metre height (in loading configuration with ballistic protected windscreen and roll-over bar folded down), also allow it to roll up a V-22 Osprey ramp. Among other items Rhein-metall offers optional height adjustable chassis and central tyre inflation system. Following the demonstrator shown in public in mid 2006, a second prototype was built in 2008 and company trials are currently ongoing, series preparation being scheduled for 2010.

Air-mobility by CH-53 is also applicable to the junior element of the AMPV (Armoured Multi Purpose Vehicle) family produced by a consortium equally made by Rheinmetall and Krauss-Maffei Wegmann. With a 5.11-tonne gross weight for a payload of one tonne, the Type 1 AMPV Patrol Vehicle is optimised for the Sea Stallion helicopter thanks to its square section of 1.9 metres; it is protected against small arms and features what is defined as "light" protection against mines and roadside bombs.

Without considering motorcycles, which can typically be air transported, an intermediate category between these and conventional vehicles are the all terrain vehicles (ATV).

Supacat has been for years a major supplier to British and foreign forces. The current offer in this category of vehicles is the 6 x 6 the All-Terrain Mobility Platform which features skid and Ackerman steering, while high flotation tyres make it an amphibious vehicle. Used by airborne and air-mobile battalions for re-supply, casualty evacuation, radio rebroadcast and refuelling, it can carry two crewmembars and eight under the power of its 700 bhp diesel engine. A purpose-built self-loading trailer is designed to lift and transport a 1.6-tonne cargo pallet.

Revolve Technologies, formerly Roush Technologies, developed the LTSV 200/6 (Light Tactical Support Vehicle). This 6 x 6 lightweight air-portable system meets the operational requirements for a battlefield mule and casualty evacuation platform. The curb weight is just 750 kg, while its payload is almost double at 1450 kg, it can be used to provide basic mobility to small patrols carrying the bulk of their supplies, but two side-mounted quick-release stretcher modules are available for medical evacuation. The vehicle can be powered by two different engines, a 1.4- or a 2.0-litre turbocharged diesel that feeds on diesel 1 or 2, JP8, JP5 and B20 bio-diesel fuels.

One of the main providers of all-terrain vehicles is Polaris, whose MV700 and MVRS700 were designed to military specifications. Compared with their civilian counterparts, they feature a larger gas tank, a heavier carrier capacity, run flat tires and infrared lighting. The MV700 has a dry weight of 472 kg, with a front rack capacity of 90 kg and a rear capacity of 181 kg, while it can tow a trailer with an overall weight of 680 kg. Powered by a 683-cc twin cylinder 4-stroke petrol engine, it is equipped with the On-Demand True All-Wheel Shaft Drive that engages the 4 x 4 drive only when needed. A new version equipped with a 760-cc engine with Spark Ignited Direct Injection has also been developed; this can also run on JP8 fuel, which facilitates logistics although Polaris says that diesel propulsion is not yet advantageous with such small engines. If the MV700 and 800 are typically tactical vehicles, with maximum speed of over 90 km/h, the MVRS700 4 x 4 and 6 x 6 vehicles are more oriented towards a logistic use. With a dry weight of 750 kg and a payload of 725 kg plus two soldiers and a towed load of over 900 kg the 4 x 4 version provides good transport capabilities, while the 6 x 6 at 990 kg dry weight can transport the crew of two, a load of over 800 kg and tow the same as the 4 x 4. Apart from the US forces, Polaris has among its customers Israel, Egypt, Norway, Sweden and numerous Central and South American countries as well as various Eastern European nations.
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Author:Alpo, Paul V.
Publication:Armada International
Date:Oct 1, 2009
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