TARDEC Leader: Army Needs Innovative Truck Technology

By Allyson Versprille

The Army needs future tactical wheeled vehicles to be modular, flexible, adaptable and smart as the service faces a future of unknown missions and threats, said the director of the Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center Aug. 26.

“The future is unknown. We don’t know who we’re going to fight. We don’t know where we’re going to fight. We don’t know under what conditions,” said Paul D. Rogers during a speech at the National Defense Industrial Association’s annual tactical wheeled vehicle conference. “What we have to realize is [it’s] probably unknowable.”

“If we want our vehicle systems to be more than just things, they have to … be able to change as rapidly as that commander on the ground needs it to change. We need to give them the adaptability so that they can adjust to the threats and the environments that they find themselves in,” Rogers said.

What is certain is that Army forces will fight in all five domains — air, sea, land, space and cyber, he said. The ground domain will present a number of challenges for the service, he added. It is one of the most complicated because it is affected by natural disasters, humanitarian crises and riots. Those all have an impact on military forces, he said.

“Our soldiers and our systems have to be able to operate in that complex environment,” he said. “That’s where we’re challenged. The ground domain is very, very complex and it offers many, many different dilemmas.”

The Army is now researching how it can be flexible, resilient and responsive “so that we can give that commander on the ground the ability to innovate as [his] opponent is innovating,” he said.

One program TARDEC is working on is the “tactical truck of the future,” he said. The joint tactical truck system is being developed alongside the Office of Naval Research, he noted.

“The goal is to take a look at our current fleet of … medium and heavy tactical systems and really look at the 40 or 50 variants and ask ourselves and challenge ourselves, ‘Can we simplify that class of vehicles to a much smaller class, a smaller set of different solutions. Can we make it modular? Can we give it the attributes that we need in order to give that differential advantage, that flexibility to our warfighters?’” he asked.

The Army wants JTTS to be fuel-efficient so the force can be deployed with a shorter logistical tail, Rogers said.

“We’re looking at possibly getting up to about 50 percent efficiency at the vehicle system level and that will cascade up to the formation level,” he said. “I think it’s possible based on the work we’ve seen in the commercial world and work we’ve seen in the Department of Energy.”

TARDEC has an ongoing relationship with the Energy Department and is looking at new ways to inject fuel efficiency into trucks, he said. They are looking at everything from using dissimilar materials to new lubricants.

Topics: Land Forces

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