Such close work by requirements developers at CDD and acquisition experts at MCSC allowed development of a thorough program of tests and experiments. The ultimate goal of the experiments being a decision as to whether or not the humvee capsule should be pursued as an acquisition program for the Marine Corps.
Maj. Scot C. Jaworski of MCWL is the lead for experiment. ‘‘This has been a real teameffort between the Capabilities Development Directorate and the Lab and Systems Command,” said Jaworski as he explained theexperiment process.
So far, so good. The humvee capsule makes use of advanced design principles to reduce weight, angles to deflect blast and bullets, and a suspension lift to increase stand-off distance to under-vehicle explosions. Those technologies have so far proved successful in the blast and small arms testing performed as part of the experiment. The humvee capsule is the result of industry approaching the Marine Corps with the application of technology to solve a problem.
The humvee started its life in the early 80s as a utility vehicle replacement for the M151 Jeep, not a combat vehicle. But as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have progressed, thousands of humvees have been pressed into service as lightly armored combat vehicles. Their performance in many areas was adequate, until insurgents began the widespread use of improvised explosive devices planted in the dirt roads of those countries to attack the lesser protected underside of the vehicles.
The MRAP was developed as an answer to that problem, but it relegated the vast majority of humvees to garrison duty, and duty only on the protected bases. Then the humvee capsule was introduced to the Marine Corps.
‘‘This is not an MRAP,” said Jaworski, but it does significantly improve the underbody protection of a humvee. With the incorporation of a V-hull and V-doors to deflect blast and bullets, an additional benefit was found, more room on the inside of the cab, allowing thecommandant to fit.
There will be further testing in the hot weather of the Yuma Proving Grounds this summer, and this fall the Corps is expected to make a decision whether or not to move the humvee capsule from experiment to an acquisition project. The humvee capsule has been cited by the Commandant as a potential bridge to the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle which is scheduled to have an initial operating capability in 2015.
Enhancing humvees with the capsule would certainly increase their protection, but would not add additional horsepower or strengthen the transmission and drive train. The JLTV will be the vehicle designed from the ground-up to be a tactical vehicle, including engine and drive train designs that will allow increased mobility and traction.
The currently fielded armored humvees and the humvee capsule models would be of comparable weights, around 15,000 lbs, still able to be lifted by CH-53s, and still fitting in the same spaces and at the same deck of a shipload plan.
Since the M151 Jeep lived in the inventory for nearly 50 years, the humvee may only be in mid-life. The humvee capsule modification could enhance its protective capabilities for the remaining years of its life in the inventory while the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle is developed and fielded.
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