Booking military vehicles in the American army was not a common practice, but it became necessary in Iraq, where militant attacks on the convoy became a common occurrence.
Military vehicles for the most part remained similar to their civilian brethren since their introduction into the First World War. In most armies, they often did not differ from commercial options, although they were painted in green or sand colors and had some military "options."
The paradigm changed and quite quickly, with the result that many tactical trucks took on a new form. Some differences are visible to the naked eye, while others are hidden deep inside. All of them are due to the fact that many consider the new reality of the military actions that are taking place now and will be conducted in the future. Key changes in the design of troop vehicles occur in three areas: crew protection, off-road maneuverability and reliability / operational readiness.
Tactical trucks, like their civilian counterparts, have traditionally been unarmored. They were considered in the doctrine of the ground forces as support vehicles that operate behind the forward echelons. In fact, as trucks, they were never “safe” and often became a target for the enemy and took part in hostilities. The tactics of arranging ambushes for transport columns became a common practice and was widely used by the Viet Cong during the American invasion of Vietnam from 1965 to 1975 year. In the operating divisions, trucks, as a rule, installed improvised protection. Today, increasing the level of truck protection has become a standard solution in many armies. The need to protect the crew and cargo was a response to the revival of the mine war and the emergence of improvised explosive devices (IEDs), especially in Iraqi and Afghan theaters of operations. The blurred front line and the selection by militants as targets of logistics and logistic units equipped with unarmored vehicles, coupled with an increased sensitivity to military losses, especially from the Western powers, force the military to add special protection kits for light, medium, and heavy trucks that are responsible for the movement of goods between bases or logistics centers.
The American armed forces, in response to the massive attacks on their supply units, especially during the war in Iraq, have begun an accelerated program to develop and deploy cab protection kits that were designed to be installed on existing trucks. For example, Stewart and Stevenson (now part of BAE Systems) developed an armored cab with reduced visibility characteristics LSAC (Low Signature Armored Cab) for a family of military vehicles of medium capacity of the American Army FMTV (Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles). In addition, booking kits were developed for a transporter for the transport of heavy military equipment M-915 Heavy Equipment Transporter manufactured by Oshkosh. The US Army is currently planning to equip most of its military trucks with protection kits, including anti-bullet and improved anti-mine. Now, if you go through the entire cash transport of the American army, it will be difficult to find an unarmored tactical truck.
Many countries followed suit, their industry took on this task, integrating both fixed and removable protection kits into its military transport. For example, the Unimog, Zetros and Actros of Mercedes Benz have standard armor protection in the form of welded steel sheets, complemented by composite panels and splinter-proof pallets. Some armored configurations are almost impossible to distinguish from the unarmored version. Most often, the levels of protection provide protection against small arms. weapons and the crew survival rate at a mine or IED detonation. Participation in the Afghan campaign forced the army and vehicle manufacturers of many countries that were directly related to it to install protection kits for their military trucks, both in operational units and immediately in production. Renault Trucks Defense, Iveco, Volvo, Rheinmetall-MAN Military Vehicles and many others offer armored supply trucks. In addition, Plasan, Ceradyne, QinetiQ, TenCate and a number of others continue to develop and refine protection solutions most suitable for trucks. Additional anti-mine protection Blast Pro, energy-absorbing seats Blast Ride and invoice armor LAST company QinetiQ designed to neutralize the threats specific to vehicles and crews. Plasan has teamed up with manufacturers of military vehicles Oshkosh and Tatra to create ECP-59 Armor Protection Kit (APK) armor protection kits and offer them for the Wrecker NEMTT heavy vehicle (MTRR) vehicle family. Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck and other machines. The APK kit, which includes cabin protection and cargo platform reservations, as well as suspension upgrades and air conditioning, is a typical example of such efforts.
QinetiQ's Q-Net can be installed on any tactical truck to provide protection against such weapons, such as rocket launchers.
Improving the off-road patency of military trucks through the introduction of new technologies in suspension systems has also received a lot of attention recently. The impetus for the adoption of these measures is, inter alia, an increase in mass due to the installation of protection systems; for example, the ARK kit adds 3045 kg. In addition, support vehicles are highly desirable to drive off-road. The idea here is that advancing off-road makes it difficult for an opponent to determine the pattern of traffic flow and, as a result, the installation of mines. Also being able to move more freely means that tactical trucks can more effectively provide advanced ground forces. However, in this case, the risk of being attacked by the enemy increases, and this again increases the need to protect the crew.
Increasing grip on soft and sandy soils will allow you to overcome even the most difficult terrain, such as mud areas or sand dunes, to climb along the grassy shores and force water barriers. The centralized tire pressure control system CTIS (Central Tire Inflation System), previously considered an option to have “good to have,” and now standard, greatly improves the off-road performance of troop vehicles. The CTIS system allows the driver to inflate, lower and adjust tire pressure, adapting to different loading conditions and terrain types. CTIS even allows you to continue driving with slight damage to the wheel due to constant air supply.
The most significant improvement in mobility is due to advances in the suspension systems of wheeled vehicles. One of the first widely installed similar systems was the development of Oshkosh TAK-4. Jennifer Christiansen, Vice-President for Business Development at Oshkosh Defense, explained that “the independent suspension of TAK-4 allows you to get the wheel stroke 400 mm and, accordingly, excellent maneuverability in areas dominated by rough terrain and unpaved roads. It also provides increased smoothness during the movement, allowing you to increase the readiness of soldiers after a long trip to the combat mission. " A further step forward is the intellectual independent suspension TAK-4i, designed for its JLTV (Joint Light Tactical Vehicle) armored car, which comes in large quantities into service with the US Army and Marine Corps. On this occasion, she noted that “in the TAK-4i intelligent system, high-pressure nitrogen is used to get the 508 mm suspension travel, it includes advanced shock absorbers, and you can also change the ground clearance from the control panel in the cab. It allows you to increase the speed of movement over rough terrain by 70 percent. " TAK-4 is installed on a military vehicle MTVR, M-ATV (Mine-Resistant, Ambush-Protected All Terrain Vehicle - off-road vehicle with enhanced mine protection), a PLS truck (Palletized Load System - American-made loading and unloading system using pallets) Army and Logistics Vehicle System Replacement Supply Machine (LVSR), all manufactured by Oshkosh.
Independent suspension SO-4 developed by Oshkosh
The Oshkosh MTVR (Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacement) Medium Duty Military Truck, in service with the Marine Corps, was one of the first to install an advanced TAK-4 suspension, optimized for off-road driving.
Logistics Vehicle System Replacement Supply Truck (LVSR)
US Army PLS loading system
Hydropneumatic suspension offers significant advantages and is produced by many companies. VSE from the Netherlands modified the hydropneumatic suspension and developed an advanced electro-hydraulic control of the truck's rear axles. A company spokesman said that "these systems provide additional load carrying capacity, increase maneuverability and distribute the load on the wheels perfectly," adding that "our systems are already on more than 50000 trucks." Hendrickson Defense produces a complete line of high-pressure gas suspension systems, including integrated systems like the Hydro-Pneumatic Suspension, which provides the ability to adjust ground clearance and excellent ride smoothness, simplifies steering, improves stability, extends service life, everything you need for severe conditions in which military transport operates. Systems from this company can replace existing mechanical components and offer improved smoothness and stability while reducing mass by 50 percent and volume by 60 percent.
HydroStrut hydraulic shock absorber developed by Horstman Defense is a lightweight, structurally complete system, in which the work of the spring is combined with the damping element. It allows you to get an adjustable suspension with movement limiter during the return stroke and automatic compensation of changes in the spring stiffness depending on external conditions and temperature. Technical director Mark Bowles said that "the key indicators of the suspension are the maximum wheel travel, the smallest mass and high reliability in harsh operating conditions. In fact, everything revolves around the energy released and its reduction. Using nitrogen at a very high working pressure plus a spring block allows for a very compact design, while spring stiffness, having a progressive characteristic, reduces impact loads. ” This not only contributes to increased comfort for the crew, but also provides load stability and better handling. In addition to the fact that these more efficient suspension systems make it possible to overcome more complex relief and do it at higher speeds, they can also positively affect the reliability of other vehicle subsystems. Impact loads when traveling over rough terrain are transmitted through the hull of the vehicle to the crew, as well as electronics and other components, and this increases the likelihood of their failure. Reducing the frequency and magnitude of shock loads while driving certainly increases the reliability of the components and subsystems of the vehicle.
The protection of military vehicles was extended to heavy trucks, for example, to this four-axle all-wheel drive Mercedes Actros AHSVS (Armored Heavy Support Vehicle System), which is in service with the Canadian army
Another solution is active suspension control. For example, the ASM (Active Shock Management) system developed by General Kinetic Engineering Corporation consists of electronic controls for a variable damping valve and proprietary software algorithms for controlling smoothness. The ASM system allows you to upgrade existing systems; it can be used on existing shock absorbers and dampers, after which the suspension is converted into a “semi-active” system with significantly increased efficiency. The Controllable MR Suspension suspension from LORD Corporation uses another approach based on the magnetorheological fluid flow technology in the system. These integrated nodes continuously respond to the movements of the vehicle and the state of the relief, adapting the suspension to the situation in microseconds and, thus, increasing the dynamic stability.
Maintenance, repair, operation
The third direction to increase the effectiveness of troop vehicles is to improve service and repair and to increase reliability and operational readiness. For military equipment, especially in combat operations, "readiness" is of paramount importance. The availability of ready-to-operate and fulfillment of a combat mission of a vehicle at the exact moment when it is needed can determine the completeness of the fulfillment and success of the upcoming task. This allows at any time to clearly understand the range of tasks of the unit and its available resources. The combination of new constructive approaches, innovative methods of maintenance and repair, and the use of some technologies that were previously widely implemented and tested on commercial trucks made it possible, even in difficult combat conditions, to raise the level of operational readiness to 90 percent and higher.
The military's main concern in the event of a breakdown of a machine or its component part is how quickly it can be repaired and returned to service. Military aviation faced this problem for many years, since it is extremely important to keep always a limited number of aircraft ready for departure. To solve it, military pilots adopted a methodology for identifying faults and correcting them, the basis of which is the identification of faulty components and their immediate replacement. Fighting vehicles were one of the first ground platforms to adopt this approach. For example, Kraus-Maffei Wegmann for its main combat tank Leopard-2 and Marder combat vehicle developed the so-called “power block” concept, when the engine, transmission, drives, fuel pumps and cooling system are combined in a single compact block. All efforts were aimed at simplifying the connecting nodes and elements so that the power unit could be quickly “pulled out” from the machine and installed back. This concept is now accepted for tactical trucks.
To increase the level of booking a light universal armored car Iveco LMV (Light Multipurpose Vehicle), plug-in modules are used that are installed on the outer shell of the hull. Due to them, the level of basic ballistic protection against small arms can be increased
For tactical trucks, the need not only to simplify repairs and the time needed for it, but also the need for daily preventive maintenance is now unconditionally recognized. As an example, the line of military trucks Mercedes Benz, in which the place of service periodic maintenance is easily accessible, which simplifies the implementation of checks and procedures and reduces the time spent on them. All the experience gained in the operation of military equipment speaks of the great importance of preventive maintenance.
Modern technology also provides another tool to revolutionize vehicle maintenance and repair. The system, designated VHM (Vehicle Hearth Monitoring) or Integrated VHM, uses an enhanced level of digitization of modern vehicle systems to collect data from sensors installed in various places. They collect data on all revolutions, engine, suspension travel, mileage, engine hours, and so on, which are sent and stored in the Health Monitoring Unit (HMD). Then, during servicing, these stored data can be loaded in order to obtain, almost in real time, a “snapshot” of the utilization rate and state of each of the subsystems of the machine. With the help of the collected data, we can estimate the wear of various subsystems and loading conditions. Through the wireless transmitter, you can automatically send and download this data even from a remote location.
The main task of the IVHM system is to determine in advance through the use of diagnostic and prognostic methods (predictive diagnostics) of possible malfunctions in order to carry out further corrective actions. Additional benefits provided by the system: increased availability of equipment due to the planned maintenance based on utilization and actual wear, increased reliability due to a better understanding of the overall condition of the vehicle and subsystems, and reduced time and cost required for maintenance. But based on monitoring, recording and analyzing performance, you can understand what loads and stresses are affecting a machine. All this can now be combined with location information based, for example, on GPS (Global Positioning System) in order to conduct an additional assessment of the conditions in which the machine was operated. The aggregation of all this information is possible through forecasting programs, which are often used by the accumulated technical “stories»About machines of one model, not just to determine the broken part, but to predict the likelihood of future failure. This allows you to repair and replace a part or assembly in advance, while significantly reducing the likelihood of a breakdown during the execution of important tasks. In addition, it increases the efficiency of maintenance and repair by replacing components during scheduled maintenance, that is, even before their failure.
The integrated Oshkosh Command Zone electronic diagnostic and monitoring system allows you to diagnose all major vehicle networks. A company spokesman explained that “the core of the Command Zone system is advanced multiplexing technology. This allows the components of the machine to work in concert, optimize diagnostics and troubleshooting ... it allows real-time access to important information through operational control networks, laptops, on-board displays or handheld personal devices on site or remotely. " The system is installed in an armored car JLTV and can be integrated into other military vehicles.
IVHM is also offered by North Atlantic Industries as an “embeddable module.” Its IVHM-35CP0C “black box” is a complete unit that can receive data from on-board sensors, “allowing specialists to plan maintenance based on actual characteristics and conditions, and not when the component is already broken.” In fact, the transition to an open architecture network systems of vehicles allows proactive diagnosis of not only the engine and chassis, but also virtually any equipment on the machine.
Many armies understand the potential benefits of adopting IVHM systems. For tactical trucks based on commercial models, such as those offered by Mercedes, DAF and Mack, the IVHM system and on-board diagnostic equipment are becoming standard. In the case of widespread use of this technology, the military can gain a number of advantages, in particular, in the management of large fleets of trucks and heavy / construction equipment. Increasing the level of operational readiness of tactical platforms (which has already been implemented on commercial vehicles) is vital and is of paramount importance to the military. Anticipating problems even before they happen allows you to correct them when the system is not busy with the task, including during short pauses (waiting for cargo, unloading, loading). This allows you to maintain a constant availability of vehicles at a high level and increase the level of confidence in them. The army receives the most important advantage in planning and conducting military operations, when often (especially in deployed troops) the number of vehicles is limited. In addition, reducing the likelihood of a car crashing during operations in a hostile environment or in the immediate vicinity of the battle formations allows for a corresponding reduction in the likelihood of (often under enemy fire) a rescue operation.
Various sensors, GPS, automated steering and brakes, as well as an "intelligent" computing unit are integrated into autonomous vehicles.
Increasing the speed of computing and computer memory, the progress of geographic positioning and communication, as well as the construction of networks of various types open up new possibilities. One of the directions is the further improvement of diagnostic and prognostic tools. The ability to automatically predict a component’s breakdown and report on it in order to take preventive corrective actions is quite obvious and predictable. The failed system is identified, it is reported to the repair department, which orders or prepares (if available) to replace it immediately at the earliest opportunity.
Computational power, in combination with fully adjustable suspension systems, which often operate on high-pressure nitrogen, will no doubt improve the vehicle’s travel characteristics based on data on terrain, load and speed. This will improve the machine’s permeability on rough terrain, take on more cargo, increase stability and, accordingly, safety. The next step could be the conversion of tactical machines into fully autonomous non-ekepazhny systems. The US Army held several demonstrations of unpopulated transport convoys in June 2016. Oshkosh Defense has unveiled its own development of TerraMax unmanned vehicle technology. The truck with integrated technology TerraMax showed its capabilities not only as a separate system, but also as part of a column.
TerraMax unmanned truck
It is not clear yet when, and whether unmanned vehicles (at least, supply vehicles) will become commonplace, but undoubtedly, that a tactical truck takes on a new form. Although these changes remain, for the most part, invisible to the eye, the opportunities that they give to vehicles are quite significant. In addition, they radically change the way vehicles are operated and maintained. Ahead of us are big changes, and therefore it will be interesting to see how the military will react to them, whether they will eventually accept the benefits that will be gained from the introduction of these new technologies.