5 future-ready technologies seen in defense vehicles today

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Historically, the advancement of military technology has transformed the way war is waged, from medieval catapults to the tactical mobility required for the modern battlefield. Today’s battlefields are ever-changing landscapes of theatre, making the ability to be highly configurable the underlying architecture necessary to meet the demands and challenges of today’s irregular warfare. From urban settings, counter-insurgency operations, and diverse operational requirements, contemporary military forces must be innovative and adaptable to the fast-changing modern conflict environment.

From advancements in vehicle protection to future tactical capabilities, the science of war changes the way modern militaries approach armed conflict, making future-ready technology in today’s defense vehicles paramount to meeting the diverse range of operational requirements.

Vehicle Protection

With Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and anti-tank mines being the modern weapon of choice for insurgents in Middle Eastern campaigns, the need for protection against these present and asymmetrical threats is more paramount than ever. And with light and medium weight armored vehicles having served as primary mobile platforms for generations of military operations, new technology such as the Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles protect against mine, IED, and ballistic threats. With a V-shaped hull technology deflecting the force of a blast away from the vehicle and other advancements such as the battle-proven “crew citadel” protection system in multi-role vehicles increasing crew’s survivability, optimized mobility is a necessary facet in modern theatres.

The effectiveness of MRAP vehicles must also provide protection solutions for multiple mission variants requiring motorized infantry protection, such as reconnaissance, patrol, utility, and some specialist roles like ambulance variants and defense vehicles for tactical civilian use.

Tyre Technology

The modular designs of an advance MRAP vehicle also requires the adaptation of future-ready technology to other aspects of the vehicle, effectively balancing the wheeled military vehicle’s maneuverability, mobility, and survivability. Advanced suspensions and powertrain coupled with future-ready technology such as the Central Tyre Inflation System (CTIS) provides the vehicle with excellent situational awareness and the ability to optimally mobilize under any condition. As tyres are primary points of immobilization in wheeled vehicles, the ability to maintain, repair and service a vehicle even-in-the-field maintains a regiment’s combat effectiveness.

CTIS is an innovative tech and advanced component of a mobile operation that reduces the vulnerability of wheeled vehicles to small-arms fire and shrapnel, as well as provides capabilities for accessing all terrains. CTIS provides critical advantages to enable vehicle operators to traverse various environments at high-speeds without risk of diminished combat effectiveness.

Hybrid Engines

Traditionally, armored regiments such as wheeled vehicles and tanks have been hindered by their gasoline consumption, limiting their operational mobility. For example, a M1A1 Abrams tank requires two gallons of fuel to effective traverse one mile. To have your armored battalions rely less on fuel becomes a valuable asset for any military campaign.

While green technologies aren’t groundbreaking feats, their modification into military campaigns are, leading to new vehicular advancements in today’s asymmetrical operations. Although oil will remain at the forefront of current and future military operations, biofuels such as algae, fermented municipal solid waste, and alcohol, as well as electric motors, show promise as supplementary gasoline equivalents.

This can be most readily seen in the future-ready technology of hybrid engines in military vehicles like the new proof-of-concept Ultra Light Vehicle (ULV) project. It utilizes two electric motors and a lightweight diesel engine, displaying significant advances in vehicle design and operational protection, as electric motors eliminate the need for a drive shaft, allowing the underbody to perform better and limiting the catastrophic effects of an IED or mine blast.

Tactical Capabilities

One of the oldest challenges of any military campaign is getting a secure network to forward operating bases and mobile vehicles in war theaters. A lack of consistently clear communicative lines due to difficult weather conditions or inaccessibility of remote areas, increases the risk of miscommunication and limits a mobile regiment’s real-time situational awareness. By being networked through impenetrable secure networks, vehicle operators secure unrivalled command and control capabilities in fields of operation, giving them the significant advantages to better seize unexpected opportunities.

Future technology such as the Force XXI Battle Command Brigade and Below (FBCB2) increases the quality of tactical intelligence delivered to mobile assets in uncertain terrains and unknown locales of future war operations, augmenting their military advantages in numerous scenarios.

Lasers

Since their inclusion in war operations, IEDs much like landmines of wars past have scourged the battlefields, devastating not only uniformed troops and vehicle operators deployed in war zones, but also civilians during peacetime. It’s often difficult to contend with unknown threats lying in wait, and countermeasures for such threats on mobile vehicles are limited. In order to combat the increasing risk of concealed hazards such as IEDs or mines, lasers offer numerous advantages beyond the conventional weapons of bombs and bullets.

Vehicle-mounted directed energy weapons (DEW) or lasers mounted on top of MRAP vehicles reduce the risk of casualty and lower logistics costs. As lasers do not require ammunition resupplies, combat engagement as well as convoy deployment of vehicles like rapid intervention vehicles remain fully optimized during all chapters of a military campaign. Lasers or DEW also limit casualties as they can be operated within the safe confines of the wheeled vehicle.

Both the ZEUS and the Recovery of Airbase Denied by Ordinance (RADBO) are capable of clearing concealed surface threats from a safe distance while the Boeing Laser Avenger System integrates a directed energy weapon with kinetic weapons of the Avenger air defence system to provide 360-degree protection on wheeled vehicles from both IEDs on the ground and UAVs in the air.

For leading military armored vehicle manufacturers, meeting the diverse needs of current operations while understanding the ever-changing landscape of future warfare is paramount to ensuring vehicle operators are combat-effective in even the most demanding environments. Future-ready technologies in defense vehicles today highlight the impressive advancements in tactical mobile technology for today’s modern battlefields.

AUTHOR BIO

Miles Chambers

Senior International Business Development and Sales Manager, NIMR Automotive LLC. Miles Chambers joined NIMR Automotive in October 2016 as Senior International Business Development and Sales Manager. In this capacity, Miles oversees NIMR Automotive’s expansion to Global markets, particularly into Europe and Southeast Asia. In addition to his responsibilities at NIMR Automotive, Miles is the Chairman of the Azerbaijan-South Africa Chamber of Commerce.

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