Iveco Defence Vehicles at IAV
After another year of intensive development of its extensive product range, Iveco Defence Vehicles is exhibiting at the IAV show at Excel, with a focus this year on the innovations which have been implemented both on existing platforms and on newly released vehicles, such as the 8 x8 Amphibious SUPERAV, and the 4 x 4 MPV.
One of the key considerations which has informed Iveco's development programme in recent years is the increasing requirement of users to have vehicles which are effective not only in a specific environment (be it North West Europe or Afghanistan), but which can operate across a whole range of scenarios. This philosophy is outlined in the press release below.
The Pressing Need for Multi-role Vehicles
The deployment of increasing numbers of mine protected vehicles to operations in Afghanistan highlights a pressing problem for those nations which are trying to optimise the equipment used by their forces. As became evident first in Iraq and subsequently in Afghanistan, vehicles designed to operate in a conventional war in North West Europe have serious limitations when operating in asymmetric warfare against an agile enemy whose weapon of choice is the IED. This is not to say that the use of IEDs and booby trap devices is anything new; rather, it is a recognition that, in conventional warfare, such tactics tended to be used as an adjunct to combat operations rather than a substitute for them. Thus, when a vehicle was likely to meet such threats only occasionally during its service life, relatively little design effort was committed to protect against attacks of this sort. The focus for vehicles designed for conventional war-fighting was far more on ballistic protection, with mine and lateral blast attacks tending to receive less attention.
As the threat spectrum changes, so the design imperatives alter, and there is little doubt that, in the case of Afghanistan, the attacker has proved able to adapt faster than vehicle designers. By operating inside the vehicle design cycle, he is able to keep on the front foot, leaving the designer to react, rather than being able to take the initiative. This in turn leads to the development of bespoke vehicle designs, driven by the demands of a particular operational environment. Such designs may be highly effective in their designed operational envelope, but they will tend to be procured in relatively small numbers, with a consequently high unit cost. Critically, such theatre specific designs are likely to be of only limited use in an operational role other than that for which they were designed. By way of example, the majority of MRAP type vehicles tend to be large, heavy and with a high ground clearance in order to maximise their blast protection. When deployed on operations where mobility and terrain accessibility are at a premium, a vehicle with such characteristics is very unlikely to perform well, with its compromised mobility tending to channel it onto routes where it is vulnerable to ballistic attack. In consequence, much of the investment in theatre specific equipment will bear little fruit when the aim is to equip an agile and versatile army capable of a wide range of operations.
In order to address this problem, Iveco Defence Vehicles has focused on the development of families of multi-role vehicles which are capable of being adapted to meet the needs both of conventional warfare, and of asymmetric operations. The optimum design compromise can only be achieved by having, from the outset, a goodidea of the overall mission spectrum which a platform may be required to undertake, and then to design a base vehicle which can be readily adapted to meet those roles, whilst reducing as far as possible the effects of design compromise on the platform's discreet performance in each role.
In order to do this, the design team identifies from the outset the payload, survivability, mobility, capacity and, where relevant, firepower characteristics of each potential role. This then allows the identification of trade space between each role to enable the base vehicle design to be optimised. Much depends on accurate predictions of likely role requirements, and here the designer is, to a degree, at the mercy of the customer, as each will have their own idea of what is required. It is at this point that the likely gross vehicle weight will be identified, as well as key drivers such as the protection scheme and the required mobility level.
An outstanding example of this concept in action is Iveco's Light Multirole Vehicle. Here, the design team were given the brief to develop a vehicle which would be capable of providing differing levels of protection depending on the tactical situation. Thus, if the vehicle was required to operate in a low risk area with a maximum payload, integral composite armour panels in the doors and body panels could be substituted with lighter panels better tuned to the threat. By contrast, in high threat areas, the highest levels of ballistic and mine protection could be provided. On the original short wheel base version, this modular approach has been extended to such other areas as the rear load pod and the crew cell roof. It has now been extended further by the development of the vehicle design to encompass a long wheel base model, with both short (two man) and extended cabs, providing greater capacity. At the same time, the vehicle's ballistic protection levels have been maintained, whilst its GVW has increased and its kerb weight has been driven down, increasing payload. Anti-mine protection has undergone a significant uplift, reflecting its increasing use as a patrol vehicle in theatre, and many theatre specific modifications have been undertaken. As a result, a vehicle originally designed primarily for a command and liaison role on a conventional battlefield has become a highly capable patrol vehicle in a very different operational environment. This is the strength of the multi-role vehicle concept in action.
A similar approach has been adopted for the second family of multirole vehicles developed by Iveco - the 4 x 4 and 6 x 6 Medium Protected Vehicle. Developed in conjunction with KMW, MPV is based on the proven commercial heavy duty Trakker truck chassis and, at a GVW of between 18-25 tonnes, fills the capability gap between the 8x8 Centauro family and LMV. It was quickly established during feasibility work that the Trakker chassis offered an optimum combination of durability, mobility, payload and performance to accommodate the needs of each of the foreseen roles. KMWs innovative top hamper design comprises an integrated protected driver's compartment and mission module together with an unprotected stowage area to the rear of the vehicle. The large stand-off achieved by using a truck
chassis, together with a robust mission module design, ensures that the vehicle provides outstanding anti-mine protection, whilst the top hamper can be readily configured to a variety of specialist roles, including route reconnaissance, IED disposal, ambulance, EW, command post, communications vehicle or personnel carrier.
Although different in design concept to the LMV, MPV is underpinned by the same multi-role philosophy, with its emphasis on designing vehicles with utility across a large spectrum of operational environments. With defence budgets under pressure and commitments increasing, the use of such multi-purpose vehicles is key to the maintenance of an effective military capability across the spectrum of conflict.