|you can just make out the track over wheels on the left of the pic|
Land systems developer Singapore Technologies (ST) Kinetics has unveiled a new concept that is aimed at improving the mobility of military vehicles over soft and difficult terrain at the Singapore Airshow 2016 held from 16-21 February.This is interesting and a bit alarming especially when you think about the protracted development of the ACV.
Called the 'track over wheels' system, the concept is being showcased on a specially modified 8 x 8 Terrex armoured vehicle which has been painted in the Australian Army camouflage scheme and designated the 'Terrex 1+'.
This unique variant incorporates a number of features that are essential for the ongoing Australian Department of Defence's (DoD's) Project Land 400 Phase 2 requirement for up to 225 wheeled combat reconnaissance vehicles (CRVs) to replace the ageing Australian Light Armoured Vehicles (ASLAVs), although it is understood that the company is to offer its new 30-tonne Terrex 2 platform for the programme instead of the 24-tonne Terrex.
The variant on display includes its Adder remote weapon station armed with a 30-mm cannon, coaxial 7.62-mm machine gun and non-line of sight (N-LOS) missile launcher, blast attenuating seats, as well as a spare wheel on the side of the hull.
Wrapped over the two forward wheels on the starboard side of the vehicle, however, is a set of optionally fitted rubber caterpillar tracks which ST Kinetics claims has been designed to enhance the vehicle's mobility over soft and difficult terrain.
"It's an idea that has been adapted from the agricultural and forestry industry, where tracks are fitted over existing wheels to overcome the loss of traction in soft, muddy grounds," an ST Kinetics representative told IHS Jane's . "This could be an option for [military forces] to consider in the future."
IHS Jane's understands that the process of installing the track requires minimal preparation and installation time. The vehicle is driven forward and positioned over a set of tracks, which is manually looped around the wheels and secured via a link bolt.
ST Kinetics is basically saying the exact opposite of what we've been hearing from the program office. HQMC is saying that the technology has advanced to a point where wheeled vehicles now have the same mobility as tracked.
Many doubt that.
But now we have one of the manufacturers that's competing in the downselect for the Marine Corps coming up with a 50 year old gimic that was once hot in the outdoor/deep back woods industry to solve mobility problems with an ancient ATV. Check out the pic below.
What you're looking at is an Argo ATV (website here). These were the "original" ATVs and they've been providing mobility solutions to the military, oil industry, hunters, and outdoorsmen in rough terrain for a long time. The main advantage that they have over "modern" ATVs is the fact that besides having equal or even greater mobility (at the price of outright speed) is their amphibious characteristics....these puppies swim. But back on task. Check this out.
And if you think that this hasn't been part of the early ATV industry (I'm talking since the 1970s) then check out this Kid 8x8 with "tracks over wheels".
This isn't to slam ST Kinetics.
I think they're doing GREAT work. It does call into question whether or not a wheeled ACV will actually do everything that we want it to do. If small, lightweight 8x8 resort to band tracks to mimic tracked vehicles then will our MUCH larger future ACVs have the mobility we've been promised?