Innovative Advanced Braking and Suspension Systems Save Soldier’s Lives

Military tactical vehicles are required to carry weapons systems, cutting-edge communications gear, and command capabilities, and to bear heavy blast protection. Originally designed to ferry personnel and equipment, most of these vehicles were not designed for all the extra requirements and weight. The Army’s High Mobility Multi-Purpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV), for example, was designed 40 years ago and was never intended to be a combat vehicle. With all the extra expectations for this vehicle, its center of gravity has shifted, resulting in degradation of its mobility and stability. This has caused casualties and equipment downtime, because of drivetrain, suspension, and engine issues as the vehicles struggle with the extra weight.

In 2014 the U.S. Army Brigadier General and Chief of Transportation issued a memorandum highlighting the preventable rollover accidents and providing funds for devising ways to employ technologies and materials that could reduce these instances. Immediately, experts began developing solutions to meet the Army’s needs. In 2018 the National Defense Authorization Act created language specifically addressing the need to move forward with HMMWV rollover mitigation efforts.

Through the CTMA Program, Ricardo Defense is evaluating and demonstrating innovative safety enhancement kits and training maintenance personnel on installing them. The kits comprise a system specially designed from commercial-off-the-shelf technologies, which will supply active rollover protection, anti-lock braking capabilities, electronic stability and traction control, and improved parts all customized for military application. These evaluation activities are taking place primarily at the Red River Army Depot in Texarkana, Texas.

“Ricardo is creating retrofit kits that will significantly reduce rollovers and improve stopping performance,” says Mike Devlin, Director, Business Development at Ricardo Defense. “This solution will provide consistent upgrades across the fleet.”

Ricardo Defense has already installed over 3,000 of these kits on the HMMWV ambulance vehicle. Through testing, these kits have been proven to offer safety benefits, with significantly reduced instances of rollovers, six to eight truck lengths improved stopping distance, and a system that’s more responsive to driver input and has more controlled acceleration. In addition, because these kits use advanced materials, they also provide a reduced risk of corrosion.

“The goal of this CTMA initiative is—through improved materials—to reduce the time between failures, save on wear and tear by a factor of seven, and most importantly, save lives,” says Devlin.

The Advanced Braking and Suspension Systems to Improve and Reduce Maintenance initiative could have a positive ripple effect throughout the entire DOD enterprise as well as commercial fleets of trucking and construction equipment.

“Working through the CTMA Program has been fantastic,” says Devlin. “It’s a godsend for us because it’s agile, flexible, and it aligns so well with Ricardo Defense’s mission.”