ARMOR, ARMOR EVERYWHERE
By Scott R. Gourley
As noted in an accompanying article [“Military Vehicle Lessons from OIF”], one of the major areas of emphasis for U.S. vehicle fleet planners over the last 12 months has been the need to increase the survivability levels of all vehicle types against small arms, RPGs, and command detonated improved explosive devices.
That article highlights High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV) Armored Survivability Kits (ASK) as an archetype of cooperation between R&D, industrial production, and warfighter communities. The ASK program is a rapid response activity designed to retrofit large numbers of U.S. HMMWVs with a limited armor protection package. The ASK program runs in parallel with efforts to field more of the “up-armored” models of the HMMWV (M1109, M1097, M1114, and M1116).
Not surprisingly, the ASK program was spotlighted by U.S. Army Tank-automotive and Armaments Command (TACOM) representatives during the March 2004 Association of the U.S. Army (AUSA) Winter Symposium in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.
Contrasting the ASK to the more traditional “up-armored” HMMWV derivatives like the O’Gara-Hess & Eisenhardt M1114, Lieutenant Colonel Kevin Peterson, from the office of product manager, Light Tactical Vehicles at TACOM, explained that “There is a specific mission for the M1114 up-armored HMMWV. They are part of a ‘family’ of up-armored HMMWVs that were developed for missions like scouts and military police. But all HMMWV-type missions can’t get accomplished by an up-armored HMMWVs so the majority of HMMWVs that we have out there are equipped with canvas doors or something less than that. So the [ASK] offers add-on protection against the threats in that environment to help protect those soldiers.”
But ASK wasn’t the only armoring program to see the spotlight at the AUSA gathering.
Several armor and armoring efforts were presented by the new Aerospace & Defense Group of Armor Holdings, Inc. Originally founded as American Body Armor in 1996, the Armor Holdings Aerospace and Defense Group was introduced in December 2003. The new entity blends the capabilities and product lines including O’Gara-Hess & Eisenhardt, Simula, PROTECHT, Safariland(r), and Defense Technologies / Federal Laboratories(r) under a single corporate umbrella.
The Armor Holdings Aerospace and Defense Group seeks to achieve synergies from combined expertise in armored vehicles, vehicle armor kits, body armor, aircraft armor, seating systems, inflatable restraints, and military police equipment.
In addition to its vital up-armored M1114 HMMWV program, recent Armor Holdings activities have included up-armoring efforts directed toward both the Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck (HEMTT) and the Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles (FMTV).
Developed in conjunction with Oshkosh Truck Corporation, the proposed HEMTT Interchangeable Ballistic Cab is designed to be an eight-hour change-out with the standard (unarmored) HEMTT cab. The proposed ballistic cab would provide the HEMTT crew with “Level I” armor protection against 7.62 mm M80 ball type ballistic threats. In addition, developers note that mine blast protection could also be offered to the crew through a combination of special wheels and rims, deflective armor beneath the cab, and energy absorbing seats.
Likewise, Stewart & Stevenson worked with engineers from O’Gara-Hess & Eisenhardt to develop a Low Signature Armored Cab (LSAC) for the FMTV family. As with the HEMTT armored cab, the LSAC is designed as a “remove and replace” switch out for the standard FMTV cab. Target cab replacement requirements include two individuals at four hours each.
As currently proposed, the LSAC would provide the FMTV crew with armor cab and glass protection against 7.62 mm armor piercing ammunition at a set distance as well as mine protection exceeding a 12 – 16 pound mine blast.
M1117 Armored Security Vehicle