Dodge Ram COMBATT, Dodge Ram 2500 COMBATT C-11 Hybrid, Jeep TJL
Military might: Commercial trucks go camo
Standing with off-road guru Mark Smith at the break
of a steep hill (70-degree descent angle), I realized this could have been
one of many four-wheel-drive courses Smith has built and one of many I've
seen and driven. But this was different. There were camo'ed military trucks
performing maneuvers in the 100-foot-long pea-gravel pit, motoring at sharp,
45-degree hill-side angles in the figure-eight area, throttling up the
120-foot-long pyramid hillclimb, and inching through the six-foot-deep
V-ditch, also with 45-degree sides. Drivers and passengers wore Army helmets,
and trucks of many sizes and types had machine-gun turrets and M-16 rifle
holders. This was not your average off-road playground.
|The goal: to evaluate commercial vehicles outfitted for military
and other back-country duty in an area within the national capitol region.
The track was built with the help of the Navy Seabees for the new COMmercially
BAsed Tactical Truck (COMBATT) program.
"This unique off-road oval track features numerous challenges designed
to approximate what a military vehicle might encounter on a border-patrol
assignment or during a homeland-defense mission," says CWO-4 Gary Dickerson.
"The variety and severity of the SORT obstacles give the services and industry
an opportunity to obtain a quick assessment of real-world off-road-vehicle
|The COMBATT initiative is a joint venture between the U.S. Army TACOM's National Automotive Center and the Big Three automakers--DaimlerChrysler, Ford, and General Motors--to develop military vehicles with enhanced off-road mobility, improved durability, state-of-the-art technologies, and lower cost. The requirements call for a commercial, light tactical truck (remanufactured to Army specifications) for carrying troops and cargo, which will be used as a replacement in some applications for the current-volume military vehicle, the HUMVEE (H1)|
Some of the modifications to get these dual-use vehicles up to military
standards include air springs (ride-height adjustment), extended suspension,
up-size wheels and tires, a central tire-inflation system, four-wheel ABS,
a yaw-stability-management system, advanced differentials, variable-stiffness
anti-roll bars, adaptive cruise control, extra body and chassis protection,
black-box recorder, driver-vision enhancement with panel display, complete
suite of electronics for navigation/ communications, as well as for diagnostics.
The magnitude of our mission directly affects our defending warriors," says Major General N. Ross Thompson III, commander of the U.S. Army Tank Automotive and Armaments Command. "[They are] the fighting men and women in today's Army. But we look at a support horizon that spans 70 years--from equipment built in the mid-'60s to equipment that'll still be in soldiers' hands in 2035." TT
|Dodge Ram COMBATT
The military version of the Chrysler Group's Dodge Ram pickup features a state-of-the-art hydro-pneumatic suspension system able to negotiate severe off-road terrain. This unique suspension replaces the front coil springs and shock absorbers with hydropneumatic cylinders; the rear leaf springs and shock absorbers are replaced with a multilink suspension and hydropneumatic cylinders.
Benefits include desired cornering stiffness, avoiding the undesirable
axle-articulation limitations of a conventional torsional stabilizer bar;
load leveling by adjusting the vehicle body to a level attitude, regardless
of load distribution, which keeps headlight beams at the proper height
and maintains the chosen suspension-jounce travel for absorbing rough-road
inputs; maximum wheel/axle-articulation travel that permits wheels to travel
the full extent of designed travel range, regardless of the circumstances
(for example, left front wheel fully up, right front wheel fully down,
left rear wheel fully down, right rear wheel fully up); variable ground
clearance that enables the driver to change the vehicle's body height relative
to the ground, such as lowered to facilitate loading cargo or personnel
or raised to maneuver over obstacles or deep snow, water, or mud; near
equal wheel loading that's achieved because the hydraulic cylinders are
interconnected, so loads at the four tires are automatically balanced thereby
The legend of the "Jeep" 4x4 began over 60 years ago when automotive manufacturers across America were challenged to design a compact, lightweight, highly capable vehicle for use by the armed forces. The successful Willys MB sprang from that development challenge. Since then, the CJ-2A and other models worked their way into the hearts of civilians, while new military Jeep vehicles followed. Notably, the M-38, M-38Al, and M-170 answered the call to action in all types of terrain, providing decades of dedicated service. Now, Jeep returns to its roots with a new military machine.
The Jeep Wrangler TJL mixes modern automotive technology with some
of the same attributes the troops valued in the original Willys MB. An
up-to-date take on the original "go-anywhere, do-anything" utility vehicle,
the new TJL (long-wheel-based TJ) has been designed to meet the most challenging
tasks and perform in the most adverse conditions. Its first tour of duty
will be in Egypt.
|Dodge Ram 2500 COMBATT C-11 Hybrid
The COMBATT HEV achieves about 15-percent improvement in fuel efficiency and reduced tailpipe emissions compared with a comparable conventional Ram. When the vehicle is parked, the hybrid powertrain converts to an electric generator to provide 12.5kw continuous electric power or up to 30kw peak electric power, eliminating the need for portable generators at remote sites. Based on the '02 Dodge Ram 2500 Heavy Duty Quad Cab 4x4 pickup, this model can be operated in either diesel-electric hybrid or electric-only ("stealth") modes that also provide a "Silent Watch" capability.
Chrysler Group is furthermore developing a Dodge Ram HEV for commercial applications, such as the construction and utility industries. The vehicle, based on the all-new Ram pickup, will be available in 1500 and 2500 models with either two-wheel or four-wheel drive and equipped with various gasoline engines. The electric motor provides power assist of 35 kw (about 47 horsepower). The motor is located between the engine and transmission to create the electric-generating capacity.
The exhaust emissions from the Ram HEV generator will be much cleaner than conventional portable generators; it'll be powered by the vehicle's clean hybrid powertrain. (The additional components in the hybrid powertrain add 250-300 pounds to the vehicle's weight, compared with 2500 pounds or more for a portable generator with similar capacity.)
Sold commercially, beginning in 2004, this new vehicle is designed to meet the off-site electrical-generating-capacity needs of construction contractors, farmers, campers, and even homeowners.
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This page last updated 08/08/2003.