While the Army continues to spend millions of dollars to reinforce the armor on its humvees and wheeled vehicles seeing action in Iraq, officials from several Army organizations recently reviewed 13 off-the-shelf vehicles that could possibly provide soldiers better protection from roadside bombs and land mines.
The vehicles, and two armored gun boxes, were assessed during a vehicle and technology demonstration held from Feb. 24 to March 6 at Ft. Knox, KY. The event was held to support the Army’s Comprehensive Force Protection Initiative, which is working to identify gaps and prescribe changes to protect soldiers and convoys from threats such as improvised explosive devices.
Maj. Gen. Robert Williams, Fort Knox Commanding General, told Inside the Army March 6 that the demonstration was to showcase platform capabilities that could be available today if the Army decided it wanted to improve some of its capabilities.
Thanks to "fm" for linking this in a comment to the previous A-C-E post, in which I was suggesting the Army look at currently avaialable vehicles as an interim replacement for the Humvee. Looks like at least one person in the Big Green has similar thoughts.
MG Williams is to be commended, but like he says:
“Whether or not the Army decides there’s a requirement here is not determined at this point. And whether or not this goes into an acquisition process has not been determined.”
“Upfront, this demonstration clearly will allow decision makers to view what capabilities are available today, [in] off-the-shelf technology, from a whole host of vendors that could be used [in] what I call near to midterm operations on the Global War on Terror,” he said.
Assessments from the event, as well as other evaluations from the force protection study, will be briefed to Gen. William Wallace, commander of the Training and Doctrine Command, sometime early this week, Williams said.
The 13 vehicles shown at the demonstration were evaluated for four potential requirements: reconnaissance and surveillance; convoy security; improvised explosive devices, mine detection and neutralization; and, infantry carriers. The systems also were evaluated for survivability, lethality and mobility.
To judge mobility, the vehicles completed an off-road course “which really would put any vehicle to task like we would with any system that we might consider looking at for future procurement,” Williams said.
The vehicles also went through an urban warfighting scenario which had several IEDs in place. The vehicles had to combat “typical” urban problems, such as automobiles, a vertical wall and heavy fence lines, the two-star said.
“They were trying to negotiate some of the obstacles that you would find in a urban setting with a thinking and tough enemy,” he said. “They’d go over the obstacle and unfortunately the obstacle would break the vehicle, to be quite candid.”
For lethality, the demonstration had a live-fire event to determine each vehicle’s ability to engage targets at various ranges. Williams said one of the things the Army officials were interested in determining was the visibility out of these vehicles. “In an urban setting, it’s important soldiers [are] able to see,” he said.
Survivability data was primarily taken from the individual vendor and no live-fire testing on the vehicle was conducted, Williams said. “Whether or not we go forward and look at these vehicles to confirm or deny the vendor data on what any given vehicle could survive against is yet to be determined,” he continued.
Vehicles first started out with a “static demonstration” where data was taken from the vendors, and measurements, such as stopping distance at different speeds to how short a turning radius the vehicles have, were conducted, Williams said.
“As an example, it’s important in an urban setting that a vehicle be able to turn around in a fairly easy manner on a two-lane road,” the two-star said.
The next phase of the demonstration involved “safety certification of the vehicles,” Williams said. “I had safety experts here and at the appropriate time, I signed off on safety certification of the vehicles and then we trained soldiers from the 3rd Infantry Division to operate them.”
Along with the 13 vehicles, two armored gun boxes were also looked at. Gun boxes are located in the back of a truck and provide armor protection to soldiers manning machine guns, he said.
A sources sought notice, posted Dec. 22, 2005, on the Federal Business Opportunities Web site, stated that the Army needs three types of vehicles, an 11-person Infantry Carrier, a six-person Reconnaissance, Surveillance Target Acquisition vehicle and a convoy protection-IED defeat vehicle.
Williams said there is no breakdown of which of the 13 vehicles belonged in what category because some vehicles can fit in more than one category.
The two-star also stressed that the demonstration is not part of an acquisition plan. The goal of the event was to examine various platforms and gather data. “Whether or not the Army decides there’s a requirement here is not determined at this point,” he said. “And whether or not this goes into an acquisition process has not been determined.”
The following companies and their particular systems participated in the demonstration:
*BAE Systems: Medium Combat Vehicle, RG-32 light armored vehicle, Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles;
*Force Protection Inc.: Cougar medium mine-protected vehicle, Buffalo mine resistant vehicle;
*General Dynamics Land Systems: RG-31 mine protected vehicle;
*General Purpose Vehicles: Commander;
*International: A large, humvee-like vehicle called the Oryx;
*LENCO: Bearcat armored trucks;
*Lawrence Livermore National Labs: Livermore Labs Gun Box;
*Oshkosh Truck Corp.: Bushmaster armored vehicle;
*Teledyne Brown Engineering, Inc.: Multipurpose Troop Transport Carrier System Box;
*Textron Marine Land System: Armored Security Vehicle Infantry Combat Vehicle (ASV ICV), ASV Guardian; and
*Windhoeker Maschinenfabrikl: Wer’Wolf vehicle.
-- Libby John