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13 Oct 14. Alcoa forges ‘world’s largest’ monolithic aluminium hull. Metals manufacturer Alcoa has produced “the world’s largest single-piece forged aluminium hull” meant for a combat vehicle, the company announced on 13 October at the annual Association of the United States Army (AUSA) conference. The design was created via a joint project with the US Army Research Laboratory (ARL) in an effort to replace assembled hulls and thereby save costs while also creating a structure that better protects against underbelly blasts from improvised explosive devices (IEDs).
“Based on early modelling and simulation, single-piece underbody structures could provide two times better protection against blasts … than traditional hulls, primarily by eliminating welded seams,” Alcoa said in a statement. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
12 Oct 14. Army Develops New Concepts, Keeps Existing Fleets Rolling. Under the US Army’s new operating concept, its forces must be tailorable, scalable, have a smaller logistical footprint and be able to operate in austere environments. The size of an infantry squad, nine soldiers today, may yet change , and perhaps vehicle requirements along with it.
Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond Odierno said the Army needs a vehicle that integrates robotics, UAVs and cyber. If the goal is to reduce the footprint of a command post, why couldn’t a commander have the strategic communications of a brigade headquarters in his vehicle?
“How does that change how we do operations on the ground,” Odierno asked. “These are the kinds of [operations] we want to be able to do, and then technology will continue to help us to improve that.”
The Army’s new operating concept stresses mobility, reliability and survivability, and materials with improved strength-to-weight ratios, toughness and ballistic resistance. It calls for advanced sensors that can locate and identify threats, enable protection systems to counter those threats, and make it less likely an enemy will detect the vehicle.
While such a vehicle is still notional, the Army also has a number of ground vehicle programs underway and upgrades and resets planned for others. Despite plans for the Ground Combat Vehicle being halted amid defense budget cuts earlier this year, the follow-on Future Fighting Vehicle and Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) programs, “will remain on track,” Odierno said.
Future Fighting Vehicle: Army Brig. Gen. David Bassett, program executive officer of Ground Combat Systems, is expected to offer details on the way forward for the Future Fighting Vehicle (FFV) program at the Association of the US Army expo here this week. The program office is responsible for an array of platforms, modernizing, replacing, sustaining and developing them. Calling the need for new infantry and cavalry fighting vehicles the most critical requirement for armored brigade combat teams, Bassett said the infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) would be executed in three phases to mature combat vehicle technologies. Until resources become available to restart an IFV program, the Army will focus on design concepts with contractors managing future IFV development through the FFV effort and maturing critical technologies through the Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center’s combat vehicle prototyping program.
“The FFV effort is exploring the realm of the possible by examining technology, developing system concepts, informing requirements and reducing integration risk while the Army is developing its doctrine and strategy of the future,” Bassett said.
Joint Light Tactical Vehicle: The JLTV program is set to wrap its 33-month engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) phase for prototype vehicles, and a final request for proposals for the production phase is expected to hit the streets in early November.