Defense

August 6, 2014

Researchers focus on reducing weight of Army combat vehicles

Tags:
Dan Lafontaine
Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md.

Soldiers with the 1st Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment, move their M1 Abrams tank into a defensible position during a simulated battle at Network Integration Exercise 13.2 near Dona Ana, N.M., May 7, 2013. Leading experts in military combat-vehicle research, engineering and design gathered at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, July 29-31, 2014, to discuss a single goal: reducing the weight of the Army’s tanks and infantry fighting vehicles by 40 percent in the coming decades.

Leading experts in military combat-vehicle research, engineering and design gathered July 29-31 to discuss a single goal: reducing the weight of the Army’s tanks and infantry fighting vehicles by 40 percent in the coming decades.

Representatives from the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command as well as the Training and Doctrine Command kicked off the Combat Vehicle Lightweight Science and Technology Campaign Workshop, with presentations to about 75 attendees from across the federal government, academia and industry.

Col. Chris Cross, director of the Science and Technology Division at the Army Capabilities Integration Center, explained why it is imperative for researchers to lighten combat vehicles.

“The problem is the ability to deploy rapidly to turn the tide, to transition very quickly into offensive operations in a very austere environment. The world is complicated and getting more complicated every day,” Cross said. “In order to be more relevant to the nation, we have to be more rapidly deployable.

“As events unfold, they are unfolding more quickly than in the past. If we don’t have the ability as an Army to get there rapidly, with a significant-enough force to turn the tide of events, we may get there too late.”

RDECOM leaders stressed that achieving the Army’s aggressive goals in weight reduction will require non-traditional approaches and new ideas from throughout the science and technology community.

Dr. Patrick Baker, director of the Army Research Laboratory’s Weapons and Materials Research Directorate, said that a holistic approach will be necessary. Researchers must work on materials science, mechanisms, modeling and simulation, and manufacturing technology in parallel.

“How can materials foster a significantly lighter class of combat platforms? We’re going to have to do something different to get the advances that we need to make this happen,” Baker said. “We won’t do this alone. We’re going to have to engage and participate with the outside community.”

Most previous efforts to lighten Army vehicles have focused on overcoming weaknesses in existing materials, but researchers are now developing revolutionary laboratory materials with potentially extraordinary properties, Baker said.

As new materials come to fruition, the scientists and engineers must also incorporate manufacturing science to enable tailored properties. The Army has fielded stronger helmets and demonstrated lighter body armor by leveraging advanced manufacturing technology with laboratory research, Baker said.

A soldier from the 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, pulls security next to a M2 Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle at the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, Calif., Jan. 19, 2013. Leading experts in military combat-vehicle research, engineering and design gathered at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., July 29-31, 2014, to discuss a single goal: reducing the weight of the Army’s tanks and infantry fighting vehicles by 40 percent in the coming decades.

“It’s not about fixing the materials of today. It’s about what materials we will need tomorrow,” Baker said. “We’re putting out materials now in the lab scale that have unparalleled strength. We’re looking at manufacturing processes and material science. How do we process these materials to be used?

“We need to learn forward. I believe we have a cornerstone program at RDECOM.”

Combat-vehicle weights have increased during the past 13 years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan because of new and increasing threats, said Dr. Jennifer Hitchcock, executive director for research and technology integration at the Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center.

Hitchcock discussed TARDEC’s current weight-reduction efforts, including research in modular protection, lighter conventional components, adaptive protection, under armor volume and unmanned systems. Achieving the desired weight savings will require a strategy to integrate advanced materials into vehicle design, she said.

“We’re looking at technologies, materials, and the design and integration of components into a vehicle,” Hitchcock said. “For weight savings, what percentage can we get from specific material applications? Beyond those weights, what do we need to invest in terms of materials, processes and manufacturing to get that material applied onto a system?”

Cross stressed that although developing significantly lighter weight ground vehicles is challenging, he believes it is possible. Science and technology leaders must make decisions so the right investments can be made now to enable future capabilities, he said.

“What does the Army, in terms of the science and technology community, need to do that others won’t? Building lightweight strong armors is a core competency that the Army must lead the world in,” Cross said. “That’s what we owe the nation. We need to know what that plan is so the senior leaders of the Army can make the decisions and investments today. What is the path forward? How are we going to attack this problem? I know we can solve this problem.

“We owe it to our soldiers. I don’t want my son commanding an inadequate force when we put him in the fight in 15 or 20 years. We take it personally when preparing the Army for the future. That means investing now in the capabilities we need so that in 2040, soldiers have the agility, the capability and the assets they need to be successful when the nation calls.”




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Headlines October 20, 2014

News: Navy grounds ‘Top Guns’ - The F/A-18s needs spare parts and in too many cases they’re being taken from brand new jets. This is a risk to national security and pilots’ lives.   Business: Boeing seeks revised schedule for U.S. aerial tanker - Boeing is revising its master schedule for developing the new U.S. Air Force...
 
 

News Briefs October 20, 2014

New military medical team to help with Ebola in U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has ordered the military to prepare and train a 30-member medical support team that could provide short-term help to civilian health professionals if there are more Ebola cases in the United States. His spokesman, Rear Adm. John Kirby, says the team...
 
 

Dragon ‘fires up’ for flight

The Air Force and NATO are undergoing a cooperative development effort to upgrade the avionics and cockpit displays of AWACS aircraft belonging to the 552nd Air Control Wing at Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., and the NATO E-3 Sentrys from Geilenkirchen, Germany. The Diminishing Manufacturing Sources Replacement of Avionics for Global Operations and Navigation, otherwise...
 

 
Boeing photographs

Boeing-built X-37B successfully completes third flight

Unmanned spacecraft concludes record-setting 674-day mission   Boeing photograph A third mission of the Boeing-built X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle was completed on Oct. 17, 2014, when it landed and was recovered at Vandenberg...
 
 

Boeing concludes commercial crew space act agreement for CST-100/Atlas V

Boeing has successfully completed the final milestone of its Commercial Crew Integrated Capability Space Act Agreement with NASA. The work and testing completed under the agreement resulted in significant maturation of Boeing’s crew transportation system, including the CST-100 spacecraft and Atlas V rocket. NASA in July approved the Critical Design Review Board milestone for Boeing’...
 
 

AF to release small business research solicitations

The Air Force Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer program office is set to release its fiscal year 2015 list of topics Oct. 22, on the SBIR/STTR website.  Small businesses and research institutions with expertise to address the topics’ technology challenges are encouraged to submit proposals. During 2014, the Defense Department SBIR...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>