Improving mobility in cold weather operations

Published Oct. 19, 2017
Improving mobility in cold weather operations

An M88 Armored Recovery Vehicle lifts a truck on snow. Snow and ice can render the ARV ineffective in recovery operations.

Improving mobility in cold weather operations

Pictured is an M88 Armored Recovery Vehicle bogged down in soft soil, one of the environmental challenges that the U.S. Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory is addressing for the Marine Corps Systems Command.

Mobility and maneuverability experts know that movements on the battlefield can be severely impacted by winter conditions. Frozen and thawing ground, snow and ice significantly affect the performance of both wheeled and tracked vehicles. With a long history of supporting the Warfighter on the battleground, researchers at the Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory have been providing solutions to a broad range of terrain and mobility challenges.

Because of these challenges, representatives of the U.S. Marine Corps Systems Command, Product Manager Tank Systems, recently visited the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center’s Hanover, New Hampshire, site to kick-off a projected two-to-three year program to improve the winter performance and mobility of the Marine Corps’ M88A2 Hercules Armored Recovery Vehicle.

The M88 is designed to recover all damaged and disabled vehicles including the M1A1 Abrams tank. Two primary challenges related to towing and recovery of these vehicles include the weight of the Abrams and of the ARV. Both vehicles have mobility shortcomings on ice, snow and soft or marshy ground.

"CRREL is excited to help the Marines improve the M88's mobility in cold regions and possibly extend that improvement to soft, muddy environments as well,” said Jared Oren, chief of CRREL’s Engineering Resources Branch. This has been a long-standing issue not only for the Marines, but for the Army as well, as my Army platoon in Germany experienced similar winter mobility issues with our two M88s in 2006.”

“We are in a position to do something about tackling this problem methodically. We have a team of mechanical, civil and materials engineers, robust materials testing capabilities, and environmentally controlled facilities to work with the Marine Corps' Systems Command. We are executing a no-nonsense approach to develop potential vehicle and equipment modifications, to test in the laboratory and run numerical models. We will then continue testing and evaluating in larger winter, field-scale environments using our facilities on campus and possibly winter testing at our test center in Alaska."

Early objectives for the project include a thorough analysis of current vehicle performance capabilities and limitations when executing recovery operations in various extreme environmental conditions. Also planned are the development of laboratory test methods, and an evaluation of concurrent mobility investigations by the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center’s Track and Suspension Division and its NATO partners.

“Our goal is to develop a range of options for the Marines that will enable increased mobility and operations capabilities for the M88 Armored Recovery Vehicle in cold and extreme cold regions environments,” said Michael Walsh, CRREL mechanical engineer and project lead.