Green Military Vehicles

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Although cars have been greened over recent years, military vehicles have not been on the green radar – until now, thanks to a new fuel-efficient military vehicle for demonstration in the US, developed by Ricardo.

Ricardo has announced that it has completed the build of the FED ALPHA vehicle as part of the Fuel Efficient Ground Vehicle Demonstrator (FED) programme for the U.S. Army’s Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC). The company has been awarded a contract for the testing phase, which is currently underway.

The goal of the FED programme, launched in late 2008, is to improve military vehicle technology, reduce fuel consumption on the battlefield and reduce the nation’s dependence on oil. Ricardo has applied its expertise in the design, development and manufacturing of special vehicles, and advanced automotive technology to create a demonstration vehicle that maximises fuel economy while maintaining the capability and performance of light tactical wheeled vehicles.

The FED ALPHA includes numerous fuel-saving features, including:

? A Cummins I4 engine that Ricardo calibrated specifically for tactical vehicle fuel efficiency in Ricardo’s Detroit Technology Campus engine test facilities

? Goodyear Fuel Max low rolling resistance tyres specifically designed for the FED ALPHA

? A high efficiency 28-volt permanent magnet integrated starter-generator from Kollmorgen that enables electric accessories and 20 kW of power for on-board equipment

? An Alcoa Defense lightweight aluminium structure, armouring, and underbody blast shield which support and protect the vehicle while reducing weight

? An improved driveline that utilizes a unique carrier and differential assembly from Ricardo and AxleTech International, including non-geared hubs and REM Chemicals Isotropic Superfinished gears to reduce friction and increase fuel efficiency

? Accelerator feedback pedal and fuel economy display to inform drivers how to operate the vehicle to produce the best fuel economy

? A 6-speed automatic transmission from Aisin

In early July 2011, the FED ALPHA was on display for two days in the centre courtyard of the Pentagon. Since that time, FED ALPHA has been successfully completing government testing at the U.S. Army’s Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland. One key facility that is paramount to validating the fuel economy of the vehicle is the Aberdeen Test Center (ATC) Roadway Simulator. This facility is the world’s largest automotive test simulator and designed to perform vehicle dynamics, powertrain performance, shock and vibration testing in a laboratory environment. This facility enables the FED ALPHA to be tested in a highly controlled environment so that small changes in fuel economy can be verified.

ATC will test the FED ALPHA over the drive cycle that TARDEC and Ricardo developed during the first phase of the programme. This unique cycle is comprised of various real world type activities (convoy, urban assault, cross-country and extended idle) that a typical military vehicle would encounter on a mission-to-mission basis. The real world testing of the FED ALPHA will assist in demonstrating and advancing the various technologies that could be utilised to improve fuel efficiency for other U.S. Army vehicles.