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By Julian Nettlefold, Editor, BATTLESPACE

21 Jun 05. L-3 Electronic Systems (ES) and Horstman, the UK’s leading suspension systems company showed off its new active suspension system, ECASS, on the United Defense Lancer vehicle during demonstration at Bovingdon on Tuesday.

L-3 ES and Horstman are leading the development of an electronic suspension system for ground vehicles called, ECASS that will greatly enhance the mobility and mission effectiveness of military vehicles.

ECASS improves the off-road mobility and manoeuvrability of both wheeled and tracked vehicles. This substantially increases ground force mission success rates by providing stable mobile platforms for firing weapons. It also enables troops and vital supplies to be transported faster and safer to where they are needed, arriving combat ready.

Features include:

Mobility and maneuverability – Two-to-threefold increase in speed over off-road terrain quickens the tempo of battle for combat forces.

Enhanced survivability and mission effectiveness – Improved vehicle handling and stability enables more accurate C4ISR and weapon delivery, and active recoil management, which minimizes time between weapon firings.

Crew effectiveness – Crewmembers experience six-to-eight times less vibration and shock, thereby reducing soldier stress and fatigue and maintaining soldier efficiency for longer periods of time.

Vehicle safety – ECASS can reduce Centre of Gravity height during severe cornering manoeuvres to reduce vehicle roll over susceptibility.

Reliability/cost savings – ECASS’ ability to minimize absorbed energy from terrain-induced shock and vibration can significantly reduce motion related vehicle and electronics failure rates, protect shock/vibration sensitive munitions and potentially reduce overall life cycle costs. Additionally, increased payload flexibility without significant degradation in suspension performance can provide opportunities for reducing transportation costs and expanding mission capability.

Fuel economy – The ability of ECASS to store and regenerate damping energy reduces vehicle off-road rolling resistance and fuel consumption compared to vehicles with conventional suspension systems.

Drew Lippert from L-3 ES told BATTLESPACE that production of the system is expected to start in 2007 to fit the wheeled vehicle system to the next generation Stewart & Stevenson FMTV and HIMARS vehicles. “The system is particularly suited to stabilise missile firing trucks. HIMARS is being fielded but we expect the addition of ECASS to improve the speed of firing,” he told Julian Nettlefold.

The tracked variant developed with Horstman is being offered for use on the FRES vehicles but has not been included in the TDPs being offered to the DPA. It is also being trialled for FCS.

ECASS was developed by the University of Texas with grants form the DoD. L-3 bought the company from Northrop Grumman.

The Lancer demonstration showed how the active suspension system enables vehicles to transverse rough terrain faster and in more comfort that existing systems as shown on the CVR(T) vehicle. Video of the HMMV showing the system in action at Yuma also clearly demonstrated how ECASS could help solve the problem of HMMVs turning over with added armor. There have been a reported of ten deaths in Iraq because of this problem.

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