First-of-its-kind prototype provides durable alternative
Scottsdale, Ariz. – TPI Composites, Inc. announced last week that its All Composite Military Vehicle (ACMV) has successfully completed both accelerated durability testing and road testing. It is believed to be the first completely composite tactical vehicle to accomplish such a milestone for the U.S. Army.
The results are considered significant steps toward integrating advanced composite materials into tactical vehicles which will provide a lighter, more durable option and provide the Army with the ability to:
– Traverse treacherous terrain while safely transporting troops and cargo
– Add personnel protection
– Add payload such as vital communications systems or ammunition
– Reduce corrosion and certain maintenance expenses
– Improve fuel efficiency in theater
The military’s High Mobility Multi-purpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV) was selected as the platform of the vehicle. The body structure of the ACMV, including the frame rails, were constructed of composite materials and contain no metal. Standard HMMWV drive trains, suspensions and other accessories were fastened to the composite body with methods similar to those used for steel and aluminum HMMWVs.
“We are very pleased with the performance of TPI’s All Composite Military Vehicle,” said CEO Steve Lockard. “A vehicle like this gives the U.S. Army several significant options to improve its HMMWV fleet. Not only will this vehicle give our troops increased mobility, its lighter, high-strength composition will allow for significant fuel efficiency and potentially allow for the addition of enhanced armor or greater payload. This is a huge step forward in military vehicle engineering.”
The ACMV prototype was tested by Defiance Testing & Engineering in Troy, Mich., between October 9, 2009 and November 2, 2009. It was tested on a 4 post tire coupled vehicle test simulator. The vehicle was sent to Chrysler’s Chelsea Proving Grounds for 85 hours, representing a 50,000 mile road test. The data represented a severe off road schedule typically used for light trucks and sport utility vehicles, commonly referred to as “L4S”. The vehicle was tested in two different configurations – ballasted and un-ballasted. Other project team members that supported the program included the University of Delaware’s Center for Composite Materials.
The ACMV was also tested at Nevada Automotive Test Center (NATC) between December 2008 and May 2009 and was subjected to the following performance tests:
– Static stability (tilt table)
– Dynamic stability (NATO double lane change)
– Dynamic stability (steady state turning)
– Ride quality and peak acceleration
– Peak vertical acceleration.
The vehicle was also tested for 5,000 miles on a mission profile-representative course. The road test consisted of 1,500 miles of primary roads, 1,500 miles of secondary roads and 2,000 miles of cross-country travel. The ACMV performed very well at NATC and Defiance exhibiting no significant structural failures.
“We’re proud to apply our expertise in composite technology to assist the military in providing a lighter, safer, more durable vehicle for U.S. troops,” said Lockard. “From our beginnings as a custom yacht manufacturer to the wind turbine blades we supply to GE Energy and Mitsubishi Power Systems to our military products, TPI has a heritage of innovation in composite manufacturing.”
The next and last significant phase of testing of the ACMV is blast testing which is likely to take place in the first half of 2010.
This is not TPI’s first entrée into applying advanced composites in military vehicles. The company has designed and built improved HMMWV Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) hoods. It also designed and prototyped the first All Composite Cab for the Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck (HEMTT) platform. Like the ACMV, the HEMTT cab has successfully completed several tests required by the Army. In each case, TPI has reduced significant vehicle weight and produced parts that enhance vehicle payload and personnel protection.