U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC)
Warren, MI

At the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC), final testing is beginning on the Ultra Light Vehicle (ULV) Research Prototype platform.

Funded by the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the ULV project was set up to design, develop and build three identical, lightweight tactical research prototype vehicles, emphasizing survivability for occupants and meeting four research objectives:

  • Payload – 4,500 lbs
  • Performance – at 14,000 lbs curb weight
  • Protection – comparable to the currently fielded Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected (MRAP) vehicles
  • Price – $250,000 each in a hypothetical 5,000-unit production run.

TARDEC’s Ground System Survivability group partnered with non-traditional defense contractors. In only 16 months, the team moved from design to prototype. The team produced three vehicles: two will be used for mobility, mine blast, and ballistic survivability testing, and the third is moving into TARDEC’s Ground Systems Power and Energy Laboratory (GSPEL) for mobility and fuel efficiency testing. Results are expected to be available in early 2014.

The hybrid design allows for a “clean underbody” through the elimination of various automotive components, allowing for blast-mitigation technologies to perform uninhibited during a blast event. Either of the electric motors can power the vehicle, providing redundancy. ULV’s final design was developed by lead contractor Hardwire LLC (www.hardwirellc.com ). Remote-mounted and remote-controlled vehicle electronics reduce HVAC loads and create more interior space than similarly equipped tactical vehicles. “Clamshell” front and rear doors open away from the B-pillar, creating a protected area for soldiers to exit.

Interior technologies include a crushable floating floor system that absorbs energy and decouples the crew’s feet and legs from the steel hull. ULV also utilizes high-strength steels and advanced composite materials, offering lightweight ballistic protection.

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