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Commercially Based Tactical Truck [ COMBATT ]

As traditional defense industry supplies consolidate, many believe that the Department of Defense (DoD) must continue to increase its business activities in the commercial marketplace. This acquisition reform explores the viability of using commercially produced vehicles for military use in the Department of Defense as light tactical trucks.

The National Automotive Center (NAC) has initiated a program called Commercially Based Tactical Truck (COMBATT) that identifies dual-need/dual-use automotive technologies within the Defense Department and commercial automotive industry. This innovative approach is to adapt a modified commercial pick-up truck to perform some of the missions now assigned to the High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV). COMBATT is shown to reduce the cost of developing and procuring and maintaining a light tactical wheeled vehicle. The services could meet their Light Tactical Vehicle needs with an appropriate mix of HMMWVs and COMBATTs.

The TACOM-TARDEC National Automotive Center unveiled the Commercially Based Tactical Truck, or COMBATT, at the Society of Automotive Engineers 2000 World Congress. COMBATT is a commercial light tactical vehicle remanufactured to Army specification. It is a mass-produced LTV that promises four overwhelming benefits: economies of scale to reduce produced and design costs; lower costs on parts and part distribution; use of commercial service manuals; and access to dealerships to greatly reduce maintenance costs.

The first COMBATT demonstration vehicles were two maximum-performance, off-road pickup trucks and an advanced systems HMMWV. The vehicles used are a modified Ford F350 and a Dodge RAM 2500/3500. Some of the many areas modified to bring the vehicles up to the new standard include the air springs (ride height adjustment); active dampers; extended suspension travel; upsized wheels and tires; variable stiffness antiroll bars; a black box recorder; and a complete suite of electronics for navigation/communication as well as for diagnostics.

After being structurally modified and equipped with advanced drivetrain, suspension, electrical and electronic components, the demonstration COMBATT vehicles underwent exhaustive desert field trials. They were tested for payload, on-road and off-road control, braking, ride, cooling, slam-bang resiliency, even for operation on 60 percent grades and 40 percent side slopes. The COMBATT program calls for vehicles to meet Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards and EPA emission standards. Further tests and evaluations are scheduled.

Some of the modifications on the M1097A2 HMMWV include emerging technologies to reduce interior noise; metal enclosure with federal motor vehicle safety standard-compliant doors; inflatable seat belts; collision warning; improved steering idler arm and ball joints; and a suite of electronics to include navigational aids (night vision enhancement) as well as diagnostics.

Besides the commercial upgrades, the vehicles are militarized with the standard military equipment. This type of vehicle is being considered as a near-term solution for replacing the aging CUCV fleet, as well as for some cargo troop missions of the light tactical vehicle fleet. This would free more HMMWVs for front-line assignments. By leveraging commercial vehicle technology, the Army aims to maintain a consistently modern, mission-ready vehicle fleet while reducing the costs of development, production and spare parts. The Army was looking at leasing a fleet of COMBATTs.



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