When one typically thinks of hybrids, military vehicles don't typically immediately come to mind. But fuel efficiency is a big part of battlefield logistics, and BAE Systems in conjunction with Northrop Grumman, is looking to improve the efficiency of the Army's combat transport.
The new Ground Combat Vehicle (GCV) is built to be as tough as the current RG-33 MRAP. But whereas the MRAP has a decidedly truck-like appearance, one look at the GCV gives no doubt that it's quite literally a tank.
And although tanks are not generally noted for being especially accommodating for troops, the GCV, according to its spec sheet, has a personnel capacity of 3 crew and 9 squad, for a total capacity of 12, compared to the MRAP's rated capacity of between 6 (2 crew, 4 squad) or 10 (2 crew, 8 squad) for the dual-axle extended-length RG-33L.
The comparison of these seemingly vastly different vehicles piqued our interest, so we dug a little deeper to get some clarification on the GCV's role in the Army's equipment arsenal. Although the GCV's rated personnel capacity invites comparison to the MRAP, its closest current equivalent is the Bradley Fighting Vehicle, according to Mark Signorelli, Vice President and General Manager of Weapon Systems, BAE Systems. "The GCV is a combat vehicle. While the MRAP is often mentioned alongside it, it's a completely different vehicle. The GCV is much more heavily armored than the MRAP. It's designed to go into a combat zone, for the troops to dismount, and make a final assault."
Although the Defense Department isn't always known for its frugality, operational cost-effectiveness was a big factor in the GCV's development. At approximately $6-8 million each, the GCV costs about twice what a comparable Bradley does, but offers a 10-20 percent efficiency improvement over the Bradley. Because it doesn't have a direct mechanical connection between the diesel engines and the drivetrain, the GCV can be operated using only one engine most of the time, with both engines on-line when maximum power is needed.
Signorelli noted that potential savings from using the GCV aren't just from fuel, but by extension, active-combat lives. "The most significant benefit that comes from better fuel efficiency is fewer fuel convoys on the road. A large number of casualties come from fuel convoys," he said.
The hybrid drivetrain in the GCV is about 5 percent more expensive than a comparable mechanical system would be. But over the projected life-cycle of the vehicle, the GCV is expected to be about 20 percent cheaper to operate.
If you're a big fan of military machinery, be sure and check out the re-designed Marines.com website, which features photos and specifications of the many of the Marines' combat and support vehicles.