Inside Extreme Scale Tech|Saturday, November 22, 2014
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Army to Strengthen Ground Combat Vehicles 

The U.S. Army Research Laboratory has collaborated with Alcoa, the world’s third largest producer of aluminum, in order to come up with a way to better protect soldiers from improvised explosive devices (IEDs). The solution that they decided on is a single-piece aluminum hull designed for ground combat vehicles. This hull not only makes ground vehicles more durable, but lighter and cheaper as well.

“For decades, the Army has recognized the survivability benefits of a single-piece hull due to its thickness, size and shape for ground combat vehicles,” said Dr. Ernest Chin of the Army Research Laboratory. “Our collaborative effort to develop continuous and seamless aluminum hull technology has the potential to be a game changer for how combat vehicles are designed and made to better protect our soldiers.”

The new aluminum hull would improve the performance of combat vehicles in four major ways, the first being improved blast protection.

The combat vehicles are usually manufactured with welded seams but with the new hull those seams would be completely eliminated, thus improving the durability and protection of the vehicle.

The aluminum hull also increases damage resistance. In the event that an enemy attempts to destroy a combat vehicle, the chances that they are successful have been decreased. The Alcoa alloys are more blast-absorbent and will reduce damage taken. 

The design of the hull is also more efficient than before with a reduction in weight. This weight reduction brings about the fourth benefit of the aluminum hulls – cost savings. Due to the weight reduction, fuel efficiency will be enhanced, assembly time reduced, and complexity diminished.

“Alcoa has helped the U.S. military stay ahead of emerging threats by innovating durable, lightweight aluminum technologies since World War I,” said Ray Kilmer, Alcoa Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer. “Our experts are now developing the world’s largest, high-strength aluminum hull for combat vehicles to better defend against IEDs, the greatest threat our troops face in Afghanistan, while meeting the Army’s affordability needs.”

The program was initiated after Alcoa was able to model significant performance advantages of the new and improved hull. Not only should it provide more protection from IEDs, but other modern-day military threats as well.

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