Saturday, July 17, 2010

Articulated military vehicle for IED Protection

M561 Gama Goat articulated military vehicle
The current approach to protecting from Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and landmines is the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle. This uses armour to protect the occupants from an explosion. Approaches have also included isolating the passenger compartment from the chassis of the vehicle. However, this creates a taller, top heavy vehicle, with poor off road perform ace and less ability for air transport. Another approach which might be reapplied is the articulated wheeled vehicle, as used in the the M561 Gama Goat. This was a Vietnam War era 3.3 tonne vehicle, with 6 wheel drive and a 1.3 Tonne payload. At 2.13 m it was about the same witdh as the HMMWV, but 1 m longer.

The Goat placed the driver in the traditional location at the front of the vehicle over the front axle. However, the passengers were in the rear half of the articulated vehicle and so would be more isolated from an explosion under the front wheel. With today's emphasis on mine protection, and the availability of better engineering technology, the design could be revised, placing the driver in the rear section of the vehicle with the passengers. The front half of the vehicle would be uninhabited, being reserved for the engine, fuel, cargo and a remote weapon station. The driver would look out over a very long hood, with vision supplemented by cameras mounted on the front of the vehicle. The rear compartment would be enclosed and armoured. The articulated joint would be engineered to break in the event of an explosion under the front wheels, isolating the rear compartment from the shock.

Articulated dump truck or dumperAn articulated vehicle could be engineered from off the shelf components of military vehicles and articulated dump trucks. The vehicle could dispense with the M561's complex system of four wheel steering and use either standard front wheel steering or fixed wheels and steering via the articulated joint. A suitable design might have one axle at the front and two in the rear section. As an example the vehicle could be built from the compnents of the Bushmaster Protected Mobility Vehicle and the proposed Hawkei Australian Light Protected Vehicle.

The articulated vehicle could be the width of a HMMWV, but twice as long, giving a similar carrying capacity as a large MRAP. Unlike the larger MRAPs, such a vehicle would be small enough to be transported inside a CH-47 Chinook helicopter.

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