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More Mobility Concepts – Amphibians

Amphibious excavator Building_duck_wing_terraces_with_heavy_vehicles

Following on from our recent discussion on vehicle mobility this is a video mini-series looking at how vehicle designers approach the need for mobility. The need for extreme mobility in adverse conditions has delivered some extremely interesting solutions that go beyond the traditional wheels v tracks debate.

It is generally accepted that for serious mobility, especially where low surface compaction or high tractive force is needed, tracks are superior to wheels. Another generally accepted fact is that tracks have higher running costs, create more vibration, are noisier and have higher fuel consumption.

Various FRES studies seemed to draw the same conclusions and there are some interesting (although quite old) research papers on the web;$department/deptdocs.nsf/all/eng8171

But, there are a number of technologies and designs that have and are chipping away at these assumptions, wheels and track technology does not standstill.

We all know about the Supacat ATMP and BAE BVs10 Viking but these are the more unusual and mostly civilian solutions.

If these don’t whet your appetite then head over to Unusual Locomotion


Fast Track Amphibian

Gibbs Technology


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41 Responses

  1. One model worthy of scrutiny for this subject is the 30 year old Amphitruck, the Bedford 4-ton based one. It basically just took an existing Bedford Army truck, and turned it into a proper amphibious truck. The reason why I bring it up is simple – if you could do it in the ’70s with a normal Bedford truck, then it shouldn’t be much harder to do it now, but using an up to date vehicle as the basis for the conversion. The obvious candidates here would probably be either the MAN HX/SX, or alternatively something like the Oshkosh MTVR trucks that we use in modest numbers. This would give us a decent capability, and probably not break the bank in the process.

    The alternative way of achieving it would be to look thirty or so years earlier still, and take the DUKW, and switch out the running gear on it. This would take an existing design, and simply update it, again without a massive procurement nightmare. After all, the DUKW is actually in current British service (albeit in tiny numbers with ATTURM)…

  2. I often thought a modern version of the DUKW would be a good idea, and relativly easy with todays tech?

  3. Thanks! There are plenty of current DUKW operators, either constantly updated originals, or new DUKW-lookalikes. I do love the fact that when the Marines were looking for a replacement for their DUKWs at ATTURM, they eventually concluded the best option was simply to overhaul their existing ones!

    Another example is the American LARC-V, which a number of operators still use, including the US and Australia, the former having upgraded theirs. The problem is that they haven’t been produced for a long time, only upgraded from an existing fleet.

    The three most promising options would be:
    – An updated Amphitruck, using MAN components in place of the original Bedford.
    – An updated DUKW, possibly updating them with the Oshkosh TAK-4 suspension (used on the MTVR etc…) and a modern engine…
    – An enlarged version of the Gibbs vehicle family, scaled up to carry at least a couple of NATO pallets (their current offerings max out at around 1.5 tons load)…

  4. On the Gibbs vehicles – I’ve been wondering. Would the angled planning hull be any good at deflecting mine/IED explosions?

  5. @GJ

    Depends on if the hull is strong enough to stop the initial blast front. If the shockwave shreds the hull anyway, what shape it has won’t really matter.

    If the hull is strong enough, yes, it’ll probably deflect the blast slightly to one side. There is a strong rollover risk though in a light vehicle. Would be the height of irony to survive the blast and be killed by the vehicle instead.

  6. Actually the base for the MLRS is effectively the M2 Bradley chassis; you may be thinking of the Rapier self-propelled version, which does use the M548… These may have been sold off, but there are plenty of M548 types available…

    The interesting thing is that BAE, via it’s American acquisitions, promote the MTVL, which is a modernised and fully updated M113 family. It basically took the M113 (and variants thereof), and stretched it, installed new running gear, new armour etc… This does raise the possibility of taking the Aris company’s modifications, and producing a much more capable version of their Arisgator family.

    The MTVL family does include a ‘Universal Carrier’, which looks exactly like the M2-based MLRS launcher. It is intended to provide a mount for SAM systems, carry cargo, carry command shelters etc… What I like is the potential to take the Universal Carrier version, and put a smaller MLRS launch module on it, possibly based on the HIMARS system. This would give us a smaller, lighter MLRS, sub 20tons, and thus much more air portable, but keeping the all terrain advantage of tracks vs wheels.

    What could therefore happen would be an adoption of the MTVL family as new support vehicles. The Royal Marines could get the Arisgator amphibious APC, (basically a more sensibly sized AAV-7 type), an amphibious cargo carrier, and any support vehicles deemed necessary.

    The big attraction of this is simple – time & money! The base vehicle is already designed and built, and the modifications have already been done on an earlier version of the same vehicle. As such, updating it should be very easy, and not break the bank!

  7. What about the Spanish VEC? 13.7 tons amphib 6×6 with a 25mm chain gun(could probably take the 40mm CTA).
    Or the Vickers Valkyr.
    We need soma amphib armour as our forces may one day face the BMP-3 or its Chinese versions.
    If we want true amphib firepower look at the LAV-105.

  8. The problem here is the difference between being amphibious in the sense of river crossings vs amphibious in the sense of swimming ashore. The former is/was very common in the past, albeit less so with increasing vehicle weights. The latter is far less common, and is characterised by vehicles like the AAV-7, EFV, and the Aris products.

    It may be possible to take the MTVL, combine it with the Arisgator modifications, and fit a decent turret ring. This could allow one of the RUAG low pressure 105mm guns, a 120mm mortar system (done already on MTVL) or indeed a 40mm CTWS. This would give a swim-ashore capability, and a decent level of firepower.

    I actually quite like aspects of the VEC, and its family, especially when it was introduced. In some ways, it is kind of like a better iteration of the CVR(W) concept, producing a family like the CVR(T), but in a wheeled format. It gave a 25mm armed recon vehicle, a 90mm armed fire support vehicle, a large APC, and a whole host of support vehicles. It is sad in a way that the UK didn’t go down that route, instead producing just the Fox CVR(W), and then focusing on the CVR(T) for variants!

  9. Just looked up the Iveco SuperAV 8×8 15 tons, able to operate in sea state 2. Claims to provide protection from small arms, shell splinters & IEDs.

  10. @ Ed

    We mustn’t forget Soviet amphibious tactics. The AAV is very well engineered, perhaps too well engineered. But the Soviet’s using aluminium construction, trim vane, and basic propulsion tacked on to basically conventional designs could land from ships in low sea states in sheltered waters. Amphibious operations are brought to a halt at quite low sea states. So having something like the AAV is perhaps too much; no point in landing if your follow on forces (dependent on conventional LC’s) are unable to leave their ship.

  11. I think the Gibbs technology applied to the 6×6 Alvis Stalwart could be worthwhile, certainly speed it up a bit in the water!

  12. @ Ace – the Gibbs website says any wheeled vehicle up to ten tons can use the tech, and wiki says the Stalwart weighed 9 tons so it may be possible. I believe all the Gibbs variants have been four wheeled so far but I wouldn’t think that would be too much of a problem…

  13. Could you have a light armoured vehicle such as a armoured car built with Gibbs tech? Ferret/Fox 4×4?

  14. @ Gareth J re M113 “Gavin” craziness

    I like the M113. But the nutters who are almost evangelical about this humble robust vehicle make it so that you dare not mention it just in case you are tarred with the same brush. Shame really, especially as it is now a British vehicle…

  15. @ x – Totally agree. They are ever so slighty nuts. However, now the taboo has been broken, is there any place in the UK armed forces for this very flexible, and I believe quite reasonable priced, vehicle? The design is old but as been stated it has been redesigned/upgraded.

    Introducing another vehicle would just add to the logistical problems of the army but the M113/MTVL have so many variants you could base most of your army on the basic chassis.

    The only drawback I can see is it is “light” by modern standards. The consensus appears to be for heavier vehicles to ensure IED/RPG survivability.

  16. “Gavin”-istas?

    Someone pass me the biscuit tin, it’s going take a fair few Rich Tea to get through this one….

    What do you mean the biscuit tins gone missing? Oh not the bloody stealth again! I knew we shouldn’t have incorporated that.

    Right, we’ll have to crack out the Barnaby-Smythe Biscuit Tin locater. Volunteers to go and stand in the corners with the receivers? Come on.

  17. @ Gareth J

    I sometimes think the single box is better than 2-boxes like Viking/Bronco. And that swim kit for the M113 is good. But if we wanted a vehicle like that wouldn’t “we” just dust off the plans for Stormer?

    @ Chris B re BSBT

    Um. We only have one and that is in one of the Cyprus SBA. But we arn’t sure which one……

    But we do have a TA unit from the South West with some willow rods who can divine for the tin. Though how you dare refer to composite nano-tube ceramic smart metal material as tin I don’t know.

  18. @ X

    Laymans terms, you understand ;)

    Willow Rods eh? I wonder a) how much that is going to cost and b) could we triple the price and include them in the Weaponised Phil Unit?

  19. “Though how you dare refer to composite nano-tube ceramic smart metal material as tin I don’t know.”

    What’s needed is a step change in composite nano-tube ceramic smart metal material definition. I shall identify the stakeholders, if someone else can showcase the composite nano-tube ceramic smart metal material and also run a Steering Committee that would be grand.

    I think we need to draw on a large, holistic multi-agency footprint and create the correct defintional blend. Especially important is synergy at all levels as we develop and build this strategic pathway.

  20. @ Chris B

    The trouble with willow is that it is cheap. Even in really awful conditions given enough water it can grow an 25.4mm a day. How would it look at a major defence exhibition if it got out that our major product family contained material that could be found at any craft evening class? Having done some research (5 minutes on google) a better solution would be carbon fibre rods made in autoclaves, wait for it you will like this one, in the weightless environment of the International Space Station!!!! Super flexible. Perfectly round. Hi-tech cache. And about £350,000 per inch. I thought we could throw in a little draw string bag (Flexible Rod Storage System) made from Kevlar finished in a variety of attractive camouflage patterns and a little square of microfleece for cleaning (Manual Rod Cleaner System).

  21. @x

    Well of course. We’ll all need a good working lunch to get to know one another on the Strategic Integrated Project Management Driving Team.

  22. A Steering committee, now there’s an idea. That must be worth a few holistic bob. Multi-agency footprint Phil, like it. Not sure about Strategic pathway though. I think if we went with Strategic Revolution, that might give it a bit more flash. Pathway sounds a little… pedestrian.

    X, rods made in space? I smell a winner. But for the bag, can we find something cheaper then Kevlar but just as flash sounding, thus driving down costs while maintaining the end price point?

  23. Talking of bullshit. This job just appeared on a local councils website:

    Director of Integrated Achievement Services

    £90,000 a year.

    It involves “driving up” stuff, looking at “outcomes”, and delivering “visions”.

    I want to cry.

  24. Director of Integrated Achievement Services. Nice. That’s sent the bullshit-o-meter into overload.

    Who’d have thunk it, local councils spanking money on pointless jobs. Never.

  25. @ Chris B

    I can have 200,000 pouches in a plasticised cotton like material knocked out by a little factory just outside Shanghai by tomorrow lunch for about a £10. I will have them sow a little label into them that says “Guci”…….

    @ Phil re lunches for launches.

    Over the years I worked in IT I realised that there was a relationship between the number of people involved in a project, the standard of catering/food consumed by those involved in the project, the time from project launch to delivery, the pay of those involved in the project, when and where project meetings are held, and responsibility for the project. In short better to be one of the many at the finger buffet and gateaux stage meeting at company HQ on a week day lunchtime in summer with 18 months to go than be one of the few sharing a tube of Pringles at 1800 on a wet Saturday in January standing in front of £1million box that won’t boot and has to go live Sunday 0600.

  26. I’m bored of this now.

    I’m off to deliver a vision as Integrated Achievements Director and hopefully make it into Private Eye.

    So long you filthy, vile “citizens”.

  27. @ x – I had the same thought myself after writing my previous post; essentially a empty box on tracks which we can add armor on, mount turrets, produce a low profile version for larger turrets/light tank, even has a flatbed version (do you think its DROPS capable?) – have an entire family of vehicles based on the Stormer chassis/engine which are already developed and we have experience of using.

  28. I’m afraid I’m pulling out of the TD biscuit tin consortium due to the fact I won’t be getting my gingernuts. Instead I shall be going alone on a project I like to call “Le Tin de Biscuits”; it shall be smaller than the TD tin but cheaper (as its made out of tin) and I think I can get some Indians interested… and it floats so it can be “navalised”.

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