Defense

October 23, 2013

Army researchers meet need for Marines’ assault vehicles

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Heather R. Smith
Redstone Arsenal, Ala.

The Emergency Egress Lighting System for the Marine Corps’ Assault Amphibious Vehicle is designed to assist Marines when escaping an AAV in a submersible emergency. When the vehicle flips or goes underwater, a set of lights turn on to guide crew members to the exit hatches. The new system on the AAV is a modified version of the Emergency Egress Lighting System currently being used on the UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter.

In response to an urgent operational need, the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research Development and Engineering Center’s Prototype Integration Facility teamed with the Naval Surface Warfare Center and Marine Corps to develop an Emergency Egress Lighting System for the Marine Corps’ Assault Amphibious Vehicle.

Assault Amphibious Vehicles, known as AAVs, are armored vehicles, capable of functioning on land or in water, and used to transport Marines and cargo from ship to shore and through hostile territory.

Brad Easterwood, project lead engineer for the Prototype Integration Facility, or PIF, said the emergency egress lighting system that is being added to the AAV is a life-preserving device designed to assist Marines when escaping an AAV in a submersible emergency. When the vehicle flips or goes underwater, a set of lights turn on to guide crew members to the exit hatches.

The new system on the AAV is a modified version of the Emergency Egress Lighting System currently being used on the UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter.

“We’re taking the commercial off-the-shelf Black Hawk equipment and modifying to meet the unique AAV requirement,” Easterwood said.

By utilizing a modified commercial off-the-shelf, solution the non-recurring engineering and kit costs were cut in half, which is a tremendous benefit in today’s environment, he said.

Along with prototype hardware, the PIF is providing initial limited quantities for user feedback and validation and developing a Technical Data Package and maintenance instructions which the Navy will use for installation and logistics support. Thirteen vehicles have been outfitted with systems to be tested during a deployment by the 2nd Assault Amphibian Battalion, at Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Easterwood said this work was a good fit for the PIF because of the need for urgent response to the war fighter and because of its high impact to soldiers and Marines.

“This is going to save lives,” he said. “It fit everything we stand for; rapid response to the war fighter.”

Easterwood added that the Army’s Tank and Automotive Command is interested also in the emergency egress lighting system for potential application in Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles.

In addition to the PIF, members of the team include the Program Management Office for Advanced Amphibious Assault, Program Executive Office Land Systems, and the Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division.
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