BATTLESPACE TAKES A RIDE IN THE NAVISTAR DEFENSE SARATOGA
By Julian Nettlefold
04 Jul 12. Pat MacArevey Vice President, Government Business and Government Affairs of NAVISTAR Defense introduced the Saratoga’s European debut at Eurosatory last month. NAVISTAR’s approach to military vehicles is one of putting the customer first developing a good ride and cross-country performance. BATTLESPACE has seen a divergence of this touch between defence companies getting into the vehicle business and commercial truck makers refining existing products for defence applications.
“What our customers are looking for today is a range of vehicles from 4 to 14 tonnes. Using our considerable technology base we can now provide this range using the same engine the MAXFORCE V8 6.0 litre and Alison gearbox right across the range which enables seamless support and maintenance. In short we treat our military customers like we do our civil, fleet users across the world, that is why we are the biggest truck manufacturer in the USA producing upwards of 107,000 trucks per year.” Pat MacArevey said.
In March Navistar submitted a bid to compete for the U.S. Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) program. The company bid with a variant of its International® Saratoga™ light tactical vehicle, which Navistar launched in October after conducting its own automotive and blast testing. The Saratoga was originally designed to target a gap in the light tactical vehicle market. Its flexible platform is derived from an integration strategy that allows the company to rapidly develop new vehicle variants to meet different customer needs while keeping investment costs low. The Saratoga light tactical vehicle has a high degree of commonality with fielded vehicles and incorporates Navistar’s automotive and manufacturing expertise. The company has also designed and tested its own proprietary survivability solution for the vehicle, which considers material mix, vehicle structure and hull shape.
NAVISTAR advertises the Saratoga as: ‘The International® Saratoga is Navistar Defense’s light weight, highly-mobile, multipurpose vehicle that provides a significant level of survivability. The cost-effective platform utilizes new design innovations that maximize protection and versatility. An ideal vehicle for a wide variety of missions, the Saratoga has improved ground clearance and can kneel down for ease of transport.’
BATTLESPACE Editor Julian Nettlefold went to DVD in June to take a ride with Paul Klein of NAVISTAR, to prove whether the advertisement was what it cracked up to be!
The first thing the Editor noticed was the different ergonomics to the MXT and other military vehicles. The driver and passenger layout was more akin to a civilian pick up with the dial layout clear and easily readable. The power assisted steering was flexible and caused no vibration for the driver. The space inside for crew and equipment was awesome with none of the cramped space experienced in other vehicles giving the Saratoga considerable growth potential. The vehicle cab accommodates 4-passengers, plus an optional gunner.
The combination of the power and torque of the MAXFORCE V8 6.0 litre coupled to the six speed Alison gearbox automatic gearbox gave a combination of speed (top speed 86mph) and torque for excellent cross country performance and pulling power. Combing this combination with a transfer box to enable high and low ratio to be selected on the move and air suspension that can be varied on the move and Central Tire Inflation, you have a formidable cross country beast with the protection levels to protect the crew.
We started the drive at Millbrook’s testing Off Road track with the deep steps which the Saratoga took in its stride in High not Low Range some achievement. The conditions were wet and boggy so that combination would prove the vehicle’s abilities. Not only did the Saratoga sail up and down the hills rutted with wet sand, the torque in the engine literally pu