New Army Concept Vehicle Enters Advanced Testing At Detroit Arsenal

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The U.S. Army's Ultra Light Vehicle research prototype. TARDEC photo.

The U.S. Army’s Ultra Light Vehicle research prototype. TARDEC photo.

WARREN (WWJ) – The United States Army’s Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center says final testing has begun on the Ultra Light Vehicle Research Prototype, a replacement for the Hummer that’s designed to be fuel efficient, versatile and survivable in nearly any environment.

Funded by the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the ULV project was set up to design, develop and build three identical lightweight tactical research prototype vehicles emphasizing survivability for occupants and meeting four research objectives — a 4,500-pound payload, curb weight of no more than 14,000 pounds, protection comparable to the present Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected vehicle, and a price of no more than $250,000 in a 5,000-unit production run.

TARDEC’s Ground System Survivability group partnered with non-traditional defense contractors bringing the engineering expertise of both to the project. In only 16 months, the team moved from design to prototype.

The team produced three vehicles. Two will be used for mobility, mine blast and ballistic survivability testing and the third is moving into TARDEC’s Ground Systems Power and Energy Laboratory for mobility and fuel efficiency testing. Results are expected to be available in early 2014. Vehicle information, including specifications, photos and videos, is online at http://www.tardec.army.mil/ulv

Highlights of ULV’s powertrain, design, communications and protection, focusing on mobility and survivability, include:

Powertrain: With two electric motors (front and rear) the ULV’s hybrid powertrain improves both mobility and survivability. By eliminating the need for a driveshaft, the underbody can be designed to perform well in a blast event. And either of the electric motors can power the vehicle, providing redundancy. A lightweight diesel engine powers the electric motors and also enables immediate launch, stealth drive, silent watch, exportable power generation, high torque at very low speed, and improved fuel economy.

Design: The ULV’s final design was developed by lead contractor Hardwire LLC (www.hardwirellc.com). The cab provides more interior space than similarly equipped tactical vehicles. Remote-mounted and remote-controlled vehicle electronics reduce HVAC loads and create space. Also, “clamshell” front and rear doors open away from the B-pillar creating a protected area for soldiers to exit. “The cab is designed to have seven egress points facilitated by quick-release and removable components, stowage space for personnel and mission-specific items and 360-degree situational awareness through front- and rear-mounted ultra wide-angle thermal imagers,” said TARDEC engineer Vladimir Gendlin.

Communications: The ULV features lower-weight command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR) technologies focused on warfighter needs.

Survivability and Ballistic Protection: The hybrid design allows for a “clean underbody” through the elimination of various automotive components potentially allowing for blast-mitigation technologies to perform uninhibited during a blast event. This design provides added opportunities to integrate various blast-mitigating kits under the hull for higher threat levels. Interior technologies include a crushable floating floor system that decouples the crew’s feet and legs from the steel hull and absorbs energy, adjustable seats, five-point restraint systems, and spatial accommodations to mitigate head impacts and flail injuries. The ULV also utilizes high-strength steels and advanced composite materials offering lightweight ballistic protection from a number of threats to include a newly developed transparent ceramic armor system to keep the vehicle’s overall weight down.

Headquartered at the U.S. Army Detroit Arsenal in Warren, TARDEC is a research, development and engineering center for the Army Materiel Command’s Research, Development and Engineering Command and is an enterprise partner in the TACOM Life Cycle Management Command.

More at http://tardec.army.mil.

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