Specialized Off-Road Mobility


Modern Day Marine Expo / AUSA 2007

The US Marine Corps is looking for a light strike vehicle transportable internally in CV-22, CH-53 and C-130. Such vehicles will enable Marine recon units to carry out long range deep penetration raids and long-range patrol missions. The Internally Transportable Vehicle (ITV) is conducted through a joint program with the U. S. Special Operations Command; the Marine Corps being the lead service. At Modern Day Marine 07 several vehicles were displayed claiming for this title.

An established ITV platform is based on a derivative of the M151 vehicle known as ‘Growler’, produced by General Dynamics for a number of USMC missions requiring airborne mobility. The Growler was designed either as transport vehicle or ‘pickup’ style flat-bed for utility transport. One of the most mature applications is the Expeditionary Fire Support System (EFSS), for which the smaller utility vehicle version of the Growler was selected to serve as a prime mover towing the EFSS mortar, carrying its crew and basic ammunition load. The Corps is expected to field the first EFSS unit by the end of 2007. A stretched version of the Growler configured to carry four fully equipped troops is proposed as a long range recon and strike vehicle, self sustained on long missions extending over 3 – 10 days. The vehicle can be equipped with a ring-mounted weapon, such as an M2 machine gun or Mk19 automatic grenade launcher and secondary M249 SAW.

Another light tactical vehicle is proposed by the armored tactical vehicle (ATV) manufacturer Polaris Defense. The company offers the Ultra Light Tactical Vehicle with a 40 hp engine powered by gas or JP8 fuel. This vehicle configured to carry a crew of four seated side by side, is rated for payload capacity or towing of up to 1,500 lbs. The rear flat bed can be configured to carry specialist equipment such as combat recon, surveillance, sensors, or anti-tank missiles (Javelin), ammunition, supplies and litter racks for casualty evacuation.

A different transporter concept pursued by Lockheed Martin is the Squad Mission Support System (SMSS), an optionally driven robotic platform, based on high mobility ATV. SMSS weighs 4,000 lbs and has a payload capacity for up to 1,000 lbs of cargo. It can travel about 100 miles on road, or half that range cross country. The system has tele-operated, autonomous and supervised operating modes.

At AUSA 2007 BAE Systems and specialty vehicle maker SRATS unveiled their cooperation in transforming the militarized rock crawler specialty vehicle into serially produced military vehicle. SRATS which stands for “Specialized Reconnaissance Assault and Transport System (SRATS)” covered by Defense Update last year, was designed to excel in extreme off-road driving conditions. These vehicles combine commercial ‘rock crawlers’ and sand rail technologies, enabling near vertical rock climbing or rubble field traverse (maximum grade climb of 80%). The vehicle also has high acceleration and speed, sustaining high speed chase or fast egress from a hot target area. The first SRATS were completed last year (2006) as ‘proof of principle’ vehicles for the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), creating much interest among special forces. The military was ready to order over 100 of them, but then interest expanded beyond the special forces, and the Army’s Rapid Equipping Force (REF) is now interested in producing thousands of these vehicles. This potential motivated the small UTAH based SRATS company to approach BAE Systems to team for the development and production of a new armored version.

Raytheon’s entry into the light strike vehicle field is also based on an off-road racing and extreme rock crawler derivative. But Raytheon decided to take innovation one step further introducing a powerful hybrid electric drive system, with the all-terrain vehicle called Hy-DRA (Hybrid Defense Recon Assault vehicle). The vehicle uses a diesel engine to power a generator, driving four in-hub motors for the four wheel drive. While moving in ‘stealth mode’ HyDRA can achieve speed up to 35 mph. Otherwise, hybrid powered (diesel and electrical) sustained speed top 125 mph. The hybrid electric drive offers good fuel efficiency of about 35 mpg. The vehicle can carry an M2 (0.50 Cal) or Mk-19 or minigun on a turret mount and an M240/249 on a swing arm. The vehicle has a curb weight of 2,400 lbs. carrying a crew of three, and a complement of weapons and supplies, HyDRA is internally transported in a CV-22 Osprey, CH/MH-53, CH/MH-47 and C-130. It is capable of towing 1.5 tons or carrying heavy loads of up to half a ton. Besides its role as primary propulsion for the vehicle, the four 40hp motors can also perform as generators, providing 30 kW of power for external use.

Other topics covered in this review: