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24 Feb 12. Navistar and DRS Technologies combined capabilities to break multiple logistics paradigms with a new platform application and onboard power generation design at AUSA Winter 2012. Under the theme of ‘revitalising existing assets for a new mission,’ Gordon Wolverton, director of MaxxPro programmes at Navistar Defense offered an overview of the company’s new MaxxPro Utility Truck.
‘When you stand back and look at it you have basically a fully armored MRAP protected vehicle with up to a seven ton payload capability,’ he explained, adding that the lineage behind the design can be traced to the company’s recent contract award for 2700 ‘rolling chassis.’
‘Those are to go upgrade the MaxxPro base,’ he said. ‘And the result of that is you will have a refurbished MaxxPro base with independent suspension capabilities. But you also have the leftover residual chassis – in particular chassis like this one, which is a beam axle. Some of the old chassis should be discarded but others still may have life in them. So the question we keep getting involves what to do with those “somewhat good” chassis.’
He continued, ‘Our suggestion is the Utility Truck. And what we did is basically re-apply the building blocks of the MaxxPro family. We take the chassis; that’s the cab from our recently-sold wrecker; that’s a flatbed from the commercial world; and now you have a 7-ton pickup truck with full armored protection.’
In addition to the flatbed design, other concepts range from engineer contact vehicle to lightweight wrecker. The MRAP level protection cab could also be replaced with a commercial unarmored cab design if that more closely met user requirements.
‘And that value proposition would cost roughly 1/3 of the cost of a new vehicle,’ Wolverton said. ‘So we can repurpose/re-mission a vehicle and now we have a whole new avenue with MRAP level protection.’
Further expanding on the logistics significance of the prototype design was an exportable power generation capability that had been integrated inside the Allison 3000-series transmission. (Source: Shephard)
BATTLESPACE Comment: Three year ago at AUSA National BATTLESPACE discussed the possibility of transitioning the DRS system, already installed on the HMMV into the Land Rover to meet a UOR for power requirements. Kevin Duke of DRS said that there would be a small engineering change required to accommodate the system into the bell housing of the Land Rover gearbox. With thousands of 300 TDi engines, manufactured by NAVISTAR in Mexico, the possibilities for this combination are eye watering! Watch this space!

24 Feb 12. The US Army Rapid Equipping Force (REF) has added two new small UGVs to the range of small unmanned ground systems it is exploring for service application. Examples of systems explored by the REF that are already in the field include the Small Unmanned Ground Vehicle (SUGV) 310 from iRobot and the Recon Scout XT ‘throwbot’ from Recon Robotics. In addition to those systems, the REF used the venue of AUSA Winter 2012 Winter to highlight its exploration of two new platforms, dubbed Project RHEX and Project Sand Flea. Both systems are being explored for their observation and surveillance capabilities. Developed by Boston Dynamics, Project RHEX features a low rectangular platform with six ‘flipper’ mobility, allowing the waterproof system to move through a wide range of harsh tactical environments. Videos in the REF exhibit area showed clear utility in storm drains, where the system is able to turn around in very confined spaces and its light / camera system could provide operators with exceptional surveillance capabilities in these environmentally hostile settings. Sand Flea was developed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and Sandia National Laboratories. The system’s most unique design feature is the ability to leap on top of 1 – 2 story building (current design is capable of an 8 meter leap). Future REF explorations will likely consider

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