Case Study:

Lightweight Defence Concept Vehicle

From defence vehicle concept.

World-leading blast and ballistic experts NP Aerospace sought HORIBA MIRA’s engineering expertise in the development of a new innovative protected defence vehicle.

The vehicle is designed around a revolutionary lightweight composite monocoque pod that delivers extremely high levels of occupant protection from a range of threats faced by modern military tactical vehicles.

A team from HORIBA MIRA’s Defence division developed the automotive systems, including the unique subframes, chassis, powertrain, transmission and ultra-lightweight ergonomic user interface.

“From the start we wanted to match the ground breaking composite pod with a highly capable and reliable, high mobility automotive solution which enhances the whole vehicle and crew survivability for absolute minimum weight” says Nigel Skellern, business development manager - defence at HORIBA MIRA.

“Experience shows that occupants of military vehicles become exposed to components located underneath the vehicle in a blast, with potentially fatal consequences. Our team was therefore keen to minimise the metalwork under the cab to offer the maximum protection possible should they encounter a roadside bomb.

“There are many novel features we have designed into this vehicle, such as the modular front and rear subframes containing all the automotive components. This not only provides a very capable vehicle structure, but also enables soldiers to rapidly and easily replace whole powertrains and chassis systems in the field, ensuring a high level of vehicle availability.

To prototype testing.

“Other novel features included moving the transfer box to the rear module of the vehicle which not only reduced the risk of monocoque penetration in an explosion, but also delivered a better weight distribution to the vehicle.

“Mobility is also a key requirement for all defence vehicles, so we selected and worked with ‘best in class’ suppliers to deliver world-beating automotive systems such as the bespoke independent suspension design giving each wheel station 500 mm of travel."

“The vehicle was designed from the outset to deliver through-life growth, and a range of powertrains and transmissions can be fitted. For this demonstrator we specified a Mercedes four cylinder diesel derivative combined with an ZF automated manual gearbox which offered the best possible power to weight ratio.”

Roger Medwell, CEO at NP Aerospace, said: “We have been building composite armoured vehicles for over 15 years and these models are significantly lighter than steel versions. The materials and processes used in this particular concept defence vehicle however, represents an additional major step forwards in composite armour protection.”

“Having sought the advice of HORIBA MIRA’s experienced team, we now have a realistic alternative to the current choice of products in the market with evidence of a 20% weight reduction in comparison to standard vehicles, and enhanced survivability by minimising behind armour effects and secondary projectiles."

“The next stage is to work with the right stakeholders to bring this battle-winning technology to the front line.”