Helicopter Carried Vehicles – Part 4 (Medium Wheeled Vehicles)

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  • Post category:Blog / Vehicles
  1. Helicopter Carried Vehicles – Part 1 (Introduction)
  2. Helicopter Carried Vehicles – Part 2 (Motorcycles and ATVs)
  3. Helicopter Carried Vehicles – Part 3 (UTVs and Load Carriers)
  4. Helicopter Carried Vehicles – Part 4 (Medium Wheeled Vehicles)
  5. Helicopter Carried Vehicles – Part 5 (Tracked Utility Vehicles)
  6. Helicopter Carried Vehicles – Part 6 (Multi Axle Skid Steers) 
  7. Helicopter Carried Vehicles – Part 7 (Uncrewed) 
  8. Helicopter Carried Vehicles – Part 8 (Tractors and Trailers) 
  9. Helicopter Carried Vehicles – Part 9 (Engineering Plant and Watercraft) 
  10. Helicopter Carried Vehicles – Part 10 (Weapons and Systems) 
  11. Helicopter Carried Vehicles – Part 11 (Comparisons) 
  12. Helicopter Carried Vehicles – Part 12 (Discussion) 

The earlier posts examined motorcycles, ATVs, and side-by-side UTVs, all characterised by a maximum width of approximately 1.6m.

This is a key dimensional break point as it allows easier loading and unloading in either Merlin or Chinook, and the driver to crack the door and exit the vehicle once parked inside.

Beyond 1.6m width, there is a much wider range of vehicles to consider, but they start to become more challenging to use as internally carried.

Several conventional 4×4 utility vehicles exist in the 1.6m, to 2m width range.

Flyer 72

Flyer 72, Polaris DAGOR and GM Defense ISV competed for the US Army Infantry Squad Vehicle with the latter winning, despite Flyer 72 already being in service under the Ground Mobility Vehicle 1.1 guise.

Flyer 72 is a larger vehicle, the image below shows Flyer 72 inside a Chinook, the three-abreast seating filling out the width of the vehicle, and the helicopter.

Without the side cargo boxes fitted, Flyer 72 is 72 inches wide, but this is the body width. Taking into account the tyres, it is 79.5 inches or 2.01m. i.e. too wide for Merlin.

Flyer 72 is therefore not a practical choice for the Merlin.

Multiple options and variants are available.

Latterly including C-UAS and loitering munition carriers.

It must be noted that many of these newer variants with roof-mounted infrastructure would negate internal carriage.

What makes Flyer 72 interesting in this context is its potential component commonality with the Flyer 60, opening the opportunity for a joint purchase by the Royal Marines and British Army and further industrial development.

GM Defense Infantry Squad Vehicle (ISV)

Like the Flyer 72, the GM Defense ISV is too wide for Merlin but just inside Chinook width limits at 2077mm.

No doubt we will see much more of this vehicle as the US Army continues to develop it, logistics and gun carrier variants are already available.

Polaris Dagor (Deployable Advanced Ground Off-road)

The Dagor seems to be overlooked in many of these conversations but it is a good fit for both Merlin and Chinook.

Dagor has four seats plus a load bed that can also be used for seating, taking the capacity up to 9. Or 6, plus some stores and equipment, i.e. half a 12-person team.

There is even a bridging variant :)

And if extra firepower is needed

Haulotte HUTP

The Haulotte HUTP-R vehicle is less well known.

The small load bed can also be fitted with folding seats to increase the carrying capacity of the four-seat version to six personnel. However, personal equipment capacity would be limited.

EINSA Falcata

The Spanish Army parachute infantry brigade uses another Equipos Industriales De Manutencion (EINSA) designed vehicle, the MM-1A Mk-2 Falcata, although it is a heavily modified Land Rover Defender.

Although Spain does not use Merlin, they do use Chinook, and the vehicle is optimised for internal carriage.

The vehicle is equipped with a folding roll bar and windscreen, a payload of 1,200kg, a towing capacity of 1,800kg, a maximum speed of 80kph, and reportedly costs €83k each.

A neat feature of the Falcata is a set of rollers on the load bed a small winch, and sides that can be unclipped and used as a loading ramp for pallets, similar to Supacat ATMP.

In poor weather, a detachable fabric cover can be fitted.

Aero

The Aero from Poland has a 1,000kg towing capacity, weighs 1,800kg, 3.6m long and 2.1m wide, making it incompatible with Merlin internal carriage and marginal for Chinook, shown for completeness.

EINSA NETÓN

The EINSA NETÓN is slightly larger than the Falcata, used by the Spanish Army Mando de Operaciones Especiales (MOE), or Special Operations Command.

It is based on a Toyota Hilux platform with EINSA modifying it for special operations use, 24 have been purchased at a cost of approximately £150k each The NETÓN is not dissimilar to the US Army Infantry Squad Vehicle (ISV), a heavily modified commercial vehicle that is designed for personnel carriage, having 9 seats.

Pickup Trucks and Land Rover Replacement

The image collage below shows a range of more traditional 4×4 vehicles being loaded into a Chinook.

More recently, the British Army has proven internal carriage of Land Rover RWMIK in a Chinook.

Although it has happened before, although with an earlier version.

In the collage below, three of the images are a Toyota Double Cab Hilux pickup truck, Toyota even provided a handy comparison table that described its length (4.79m), width (1.7m), and height (1.7m).

The linked article also describes a payload of 1,065kg and an unladen weight of 1,705kg.

The latest Hi-Lux is longer, higher, and a little wider at 1.86m, but still within limits for both Merlin and Chinook. The payload is still approximately 1,000kg and towing capacity is 3,500kg. A fully loaded double cab has a gross weight of 3,210kg, leaving a margin for a trailer.

This raises an obvious question, if the Land Rover replacement is based on a pickup truck, and pickup trucks fit in both Merlin and Chinook, would the winner of the competition be ‘good enough’?

For example, the Babcock offering, the General Logistics Vehicle (GLV), uses a Toyota Landcruiser 70 base, 1.79m wide and several different wheelbases and variants, including a 6×6.

Two short wheelbase variants could fit in a Chinook, or one long wheelbase, same as Merlin, although the extra space in a Chinook provides an option for a trailer.

The long wheelbase variant can accommodate 8 seats, or four and a NATO pallet.

The Supacat LRV, Jankel Fox and Defenture GRF would also fall into this category as well, as would other Land Rover replacement vendors such as Ricardo.

The Supacat LRV is shown below.

There is also a 6×6 variant that has a kerb weight of 3,150kg and a payload of up to 2,350kg, both would fit.

The new Toyota Hilux Champ also looks like an interesting vehicle, designed down to a cost, it fits in both Merlin and Chinook, although the payload is quite low.

Industrial and Agricultural Vehicles

As in some of the earlier categories, there is a class of vehicles commonly used in the agricultural and municipal sectors that are applicable.

Because Europe tends to have many urban areas with narrow streets, narrow municipal vehicles are required to access them. Combine with alpine locations and the market conditions are set for narrow 4×4 load-carrying vehicles.

Comaca, Fort, Hako, Durso, Bonetti, Ladog, Reform, and Aebi-Schmidt are manufacturers you might not have heard of, but they all seem to endure and have relevant vehicles in their portfolios, i.e. between 1.6m wide and 2m wide.

Some of these vehicles are simple but others are surprisingly sophisticated, with hydropneumatic suspension that allows the vehicle height to be reduced to enable attachment fitting for example, or four wheels and crab steering. Both these features lend themselves well to working inside a cramped helicopter.

All of these would require modification, removing the enclosed cab and replacing it with a folding ROPS as the main one. Even this might not be enough to move a vehicle from potentially viable to feasible. The higher the seat and steering wheel, the higher the driver, and even if that driver is bending over or leaning to the side with a ROPS folded down whilst loading and unloading, there might not be enough space to make it safe and practical.

They are included on that basis.

The Hako M31B Multicar has a top speed of 90kph and a three-way tipping load bed with a 3,000kg payload capacity, it can also tow a braked trailer up to 3,500kg.

The Rheinmetall Mungo is based on the Hako Multicar

The Bonetti F100X is similar.

The height to the top of the steering wheel is approximately 1.4m and the overall height of the chassis version is 1.9m, with a folding ROPS, potentially less so when folded.

Empty weight is version dependent, but the tipper version is 2.6 tonnes and the maximum payload, is approximately 2.8 tonnes. Dispensing with the hydraulics and tipping equipment could potentially increase payload.

Starting with the bare chassis version.

It might be possible to install a low-profile double cab arrangement but with a folding ROPS.

The image below shows a Hako Multicar with a double cab.

The basic version has two seats plus a central jump seat, it can also tow a 3.5-tonne trailer.

4×4 Van Conversions

4×4 vans are now more available both from the factory and via several conversion integrators. Some of the more popular models such as the MAN TGE and Iveco Daily 4×4 are too wide for this application but there are a handful of others that are smaller.

The Vauxhall/Open Cargo Combo van is narrower than the Flyer 72, GM Defense ISV and Polaris Dagor. It is available in people carrier (7 seats), crew cab (5 seats) and van (2 seats). Naturally, these seats will be small and perhaps not that practical, but it shows the range of possibilities.

The Cargo Combo is also available in a 4×4 version for approximately £40k which adds an extra 20mm to the vehicle height. With no modification, this would fit inside both a Merlin and Chinook, one in the former and two in the latter.

The 4×4 version is not for deep mud or snow, but it will have improved mobility over the basic model, with a gross vehicle weight of 2,340kg and a payload of 800kg.

The panel van can just under 4m3 of space, can fit a pallet inside and is long enough for a Javelin, NLAW and Martlet missiles, an 81mm mortar barrel, and a Heavy Machine Gun.

Larger vans such as the Citroën Jumpy and Fiat Scudo are also still within dimensional limits, just, but the former has a load bed long enough for a 2.2m long rescue stretcher.

They might not be an act of war, but they have a less-than-obvious visual signature and can do the miles with a decent payload and low cost, as long as nothing more ambitious than a muddy farm track is needed.

Data Table

VehicleLength (m)Width (m)Height (m)Kerb Weight (kg)Payload (kg)
Flyer 72 (1)4.902.011.90
Polaris Dagor (1)4.521.881.842,0411,471
GM ISV (1)5.262.081.912,2701,452
HUT-P 2 Seat (1)4.201.951.852,0001,400
HUT-P 4 Seat (1)4.201.951.852,0001,200
Falcata (1)3.601.801.902,0101,200
Toyota Hilux Double Cab (1)5.231.861.902,2101,000
Babcock GLV Long Wheelbase (1)5.101.791.902,5001,000
Hako Multi Car M31B (1)4.181.632.202,1003,000
Bonetti FX100 (1)4.301.651.902,6002,800
Vauxhall Combo Cargo 4×4 (1)4.301.831.851,540800

(1), would need a folding ROPS for Merlin

Load Diagrams

Merlin

Chinook

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