Small Unit Support Vehicle (SUSV)
The Small Unit Support Vehicle (SUSV) is a full tracked, articulated vehicle designed to support infantry platoons and similar sized units during the conduct of operations in arctic and alpine conditions. The SUSV can be used in all types of terrain, such as trackless terrain, rock, boulders, bog, marsh and water and from arctic cold to tropical heat. TheSUSV is a military vehicle designed for use as an all-terrain, amphibious, multi-role transport vehicle.
The system is a non-developmental item and produced in 4 variants; Cargo Carrier; Command, Control, and Communications; Ambulance; and Flatbed versions. The SUSV is designated in the following variants: M973, M973A1 (Cargo), M1065 (Command Control), M1066 (Ambulance), M1067 (Flatbed).
The M973 is also known as the BV-206 and is manufactured in Sweden by Hägglunds Vehicle AB (As of mid-2002, more than 11,000 units of the BV-206 had been produced and delivered to more than 35 countries). The vehicle was officially redesignated as the M973 upon purchase in 1983 by the US Army of 302 units. The US Army has since deployed the vehicle in Alaska, Norway and Germany, with the 172nd Infantry Brigade (Separate) one of the units fielding the vehicle. As of January 2001, about a dozen SUSVs were located at Camp Dobol in Bosnia Herzegovina, and assigned to HHC 1-64 AR. These vehicles were considered vital to Task Force Eagle if the weather were to create black road conditions in which humvees and cargo trucks cannot use the roads, usually because of too much snow making the roads impassable.
The BV-206/M973 can be used to transport 17 combat equipped soldiers and is designed to meet tough military requirements for high mobility in all climates, with high reliability and low maintenance costs.
The vehicle consists of two track-driven cars that are coupled together by a central, articulated steering assembly. Steering is accomplished using hydraulic cylinders that turn the cars relative to each other. The front and rear units are connected by a unique hydraulic steering linkage, which gives great flexibility in all axles and extremely good manoeuvrability. This device provides the steering control between the two cars at the same time as it allows necessary freedom for the two cars to individually follow uneven terrain. The vehicle is powered by commercially available turbo charged diesel engine. Automatic transmission, also commercially available, ensures smooth gear changes, and requires a minimum of driver training.
With all four tracks driven at all times, the M973's large track area allows the vehicle to travel over deep snow and soft ground which would be impassable to almost all other tracked and wheeled vehicles. It is also amphibious, being propelled in the water by its four tracks. The M973 can negotiate such obstacles like soft snow, drifting sand and marshlands and can climb considerable gradients, swim without preparation and work in arctic cold or in tropical heat.
The vehicle's four tracks which provide it its maneuverability also enable the vehicle to exert a ground pressure reportedly equivalent to less than half a man's foot, much less than the minimum pressure necessaryto set-off most anti-tank mines.
The versatility of the unit is enhanced by an extensively developed system of modular rear units. Thus, a cargo flatbed, for example, can be exchanged in minutes to a field ambulance unit or a troop carrier unit. Furthermore, the vehicle can be airdropped and transported by a variety of aircraft and helicopters, including the CH-47D.
The Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center, located in Bridgeport, CA, has at its disposal a fleet of BV-206 SUSVs with which to train troops. As of mid-2000, the USMC inventory of the whicle could not support a theater operation and that even if it could, the specific missions of unique assets (Tank, LAV, LVS, Engineering assets) could not be met by the SUSV. According to USMC Doctrine on Cold Weather Operations (MCWP 3-35.1), over the snow vehicles (for example BV 206s and HMMWVs with a MATTRACK) are combat multipliers and the best alternative to off-road or on-road movement in cold weather operations. These vehicles have the capability to go off-road, but are unable to negotiate extremely steep or icy slopes.
Canadian BV-206 AMV attached to the 3rd Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry Battle Group were used in Operation Anaconda in Afhganistan using US Army CH-47D Chinooks to airlift them into combat zones.
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