In America, Even the Vehicles are Overweight

As the military drags its feet in procuring better-armored vehicle designs to protect soldiers and Marines from today’s fundamentally crude yet apparently still cutting-edge threats, the interim solution has been to up-armor existing vehicles – namely the HMMWV family of utility vehicles. I say interim solution, but let’s be honest – the current plan is that the venerable HMMWV will soldier on for at least another decade in front-line service, and probably longer than that in reserve duty.

All this protection comes at a price – not just the financial one, but a physical one – armor weighs a lot, and in the rush to give HMMWVs better and better armor, nobody stopped to look at the vehicle’s weight ratings. Well, until recently…

Nestled away in a recent presentation is this rather damning illustration (click for a larger version):

Some of the abbreviations can be a little hard to decipher, so here’s a rundown of what this shows: The M1114 / M1115A1, the latest versions of the HMMWV, are rated to a gross vehicle weight, or GVW, of 12,100 pounds. OGPK is the “Objective Gunner Protection Kit”, basically an armored turret, designed to protect gunners better than the older gun shield. IFK is “interim frag kit”, i.e. the armor design, and OFK is another version of the same. By the time you add all this extra armor to the basic HMMWV system, you’re in the 15,000 to 16,500 pound range – 2,500 – 4,500 pounds over the weight rating of the entire system, and well over the ratings of individual components. Evidently, the problem is so bad that that wheel studs are breaking off vehicles weighing a “mere” 14,200 or so pounds.

That, my friend, is a big problem. So far, I can’t find word of any brilliant ideas to resolve the issue; indeed, the plan is to add yet more armor, and weight, to make the vehicles even safer. If this keeps up, the High-Mobility, Multi-purpose Wheeled Vehicle is going to end its service life as the HAMSS – the Heavily-Armored Multi-purpose Stationary System, unable to move under its own weight…

Published in: 'D' for 'Dumb', Geekiness, General, Security | on January 30th, 2008| Comments Off on In America, Even the Vehicles are Overweight

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