More than 1,200 people packed the Hyatt Regency Dearborn this week for the Ground Vehicle Systems Engineering and Technology Symposium 2011, a military vehicle technology conference.

Over the course of three days, attendees heard high-level government speakers talk about their plans and priorities, including several panels that gather together technical experts from both government and the defense industry.

“The fact that one in three attendees represented a government organization is huge for industry,” said Don Koitchman, National Defense Industries Association Michigan Chapter president. “No other venue allows the same type of in-depth communication between government and industry.”

Oshkosh, Wis.-based Oshkosh Defense Corp. was among the defense contractors displaying the latest in military mobility.

In Oshkosh’s case, it was the LCTV, for Light Combat Tactical Vehicle, a light-duty truck with serious military modifications.

The truck had the latest in technology, including a diesel-electric powertrain Oshkosh calls ProPulse. A 6.6-liter General Motors DuraMax diesel engine powers a 300-kilowatt electric generator, which is connected to a transmission that distributes power to each axle module. Each axle module is driven independently by a dedicated motor controlled from its own power converter, providing redundancy. The electric generator, meanwhile, produces 70 kilowatts of onboard power that can be exported to other devices — replacing a generator that would otherwise have to be towed behind the vehicle.

The vehicle also improves occupant survivability in an improvised explosive device attack. Besides extensive thick steel plating and ballistically protected glass, the design of the truck also moves all engine components in front of the crew capsule and all electric components to the rear — meaning there are no components below that capsule to be blasted into it.

Finally, the vehicle also features the latest in Oshkosh’s TAK-4 independent suspension system, with 20 inches of wheel travel for faster off-road travel and a suspension that can be raised or lowered as the terrain requires. On the road, the vehicle can travel up to 90 mph.

The truck weighs about 16,000 pounds empty and can carry up to 4,000 pounds of payload.

Rob Messina, vice president of defense engineering at Oshkosh Defense, said Oshkosh ran the vehicle in this year’s Baja California race with a professional race driver crew. The truck finished the race in 51 hours.

“This vehicle is a precursor to our entry into the light military vehicle markets, the Humvee and JLTV markets,” said Messina, who got his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Michigan Technological University and his master’s in mechanical engineering from Oakland University.

The vehicle is designed to burn JP-8 kerosene but can also burn diesel fuel.

Besides the exhibits, keynotes and panels, hundreds of scientific papers on military vehicle technology were also presented in five “mini-symposia” intended for specific interest groups. Included were: modeling,  simulation, testing and validation; power and mobility; robotic systems; systems engineering and integration; and vehicle electronics and architecture.

Besides Oshkosh, defense contractor sponsors of the event included AM General LLC, BAE Systems, DRS Technologies, General Dynamics Corp., Lockheed Martin Corp., Raytheon Co. and Science Applications International Corp.


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