Memory Metal Suspension System

SHAH ALAM: Engineers from BAE Systems have developed a suspension system for military vehicles which could bounce back into shape after explosive impacts. The new suspension system is under testing and could be made available in the future.

As Malaysia is fielding new wheeled armoured fighting vehicles – the Gempita and Lipan Bara – it will be interesting to see whether or not the new suspension system could actually be used in military vehicles.

If it could be used on military vehicles and is affordable, perhaps when it is time to refurbish the Gempita and Lipan Bara, maybe we could get BAE Systems which owned FNSS to help make it a reality.

Gempita AVS, the signal variant. It is armed with the Reutech Rogue RWS fitted with a 12.7mm machine gun. The vehicle took part in Eks Satria Perkasa in October, 2016.
Gempita AVS, the signal variant. It is armed with the Reutech Rogue RWS fitted with a 12.7mm machine gun. The vehicle took part in Eks Satria Perkasa in October, 2016.

IRONCLAD BEETLES INSPIRE NEW ‘MEMORY’ METAL SUSPENSION FOR MILITARY VEHICLES

A bendable titanium alloy suspension system inspired by the hard shells and flexible legs of ironclad beetles could hold the key to protecting future military vehicles from explosive impacts. The alloy is made from the same type of material used in flexible spectacles and allows the suspension to ‘bounce back’ into shape after impact, so that the vehicle can continue its mission. Initial tests of a prototype have proved successful and engineers at BAE Systems in Telford, Shropshire believe that the new suspension system could be made available in the next decade.

Currently, the hulls of combat vehicles and their passengers are protected from blasts such as mines or IEDs, but key operational parts such as the vehicle’s suspension can still be damaged – meaning they must be rescued by other military units. The memory metal alloy was first developed by the United States Naval Ordnance Laboratory in the 1960s, but engineers at BAE Systems believe this is the first time it has been used to build an entire suspension system. Using memory metal also means the spring can be removed entirely from the suspension – strengthening and simplifying the system further.

Memory Metal Alloy Suspension. BAE Systems
Memory Metal Alloy Suspension. BAE Systems

A prototype of the suspension system has already been constructed and tested by a team of experts and apprentices at BAE Systems as part of their response to a competition placed by the Government’s Defence, Science and Technology Laboratory for an unmanned Highly Robust Ground Platform. The small-scale prototype underwent five increasingly powerful explosive tests, showing significant resilience against the blasts as a result of its highly robust construction.

Now, the Company’s engineers are investigating adapting memory metal suspension for full-size combat vehicles, meaning that bendable titanium alloys could form a part of military operations within the next 10 years.

Marcus Potter, Head of Mobility at BAE Systems Land (UK), said: “This unique use of memory metals could prove a real game-changer for combat vehicles taking part in operations. Being able to adapt to changing situations is hugely important to maintaining effectiveness, and this application of bendable titanium could give armed forces the required flexibility – and survivability – to complete tasks in challenging areas.”

The concept of using memory metals for suspension was developed after BAE Systems engineers reviewed a range of innovations in other high technology sectors and considered how they could be applied to combat vehicles.

Gempita with LCT30 turret with 30mm gun and ATGM launchers.
Gempita with LCT30 turret with 30mm gun and ATGM launchers.

By the way, the Gempita has been delivered to the second unit to operate it, 1 Kor Armor DiRaja. The regiment recently received four units of the ACV30, the variant fitted with the Denel LCT30 turret.

The first images of the Gempita ACV with the Reutech Rogue RWS with 12.7mm gun. The Gempita is taking part in Eks Satria Perkasa 2016. BTDM picture.
The first images of the Gempita ACV with the Reutech Rogue RWS with 12.7mm gun. The Gempita is taking part in Eks Satria Perkasa 2016. BTDM picture.

The first unit to receive the Gempita, the 19th Royal Malay Regiment, meanwhile continue to receive its ACV25, the 25mm gun turret version as well as the first units of the ATGM, ACV and AVS vehicles. The ATGM variant is of course the Denel LCT30 turret fitted with the Ingwe anti-tank guided missiles; the ACV – the command vehicle while the AVS is the signals variant. Both of these vehicles are armed with the 12.7mm machine gun, fitted to a Reutech Rogue RWS.

A close up of the Reutech Rogue RWS.
A close up of the Reutech Rogue RWS.

The 19th were deployed to Eks Satria Perkasa held in mid-October 2016 in Hulu Terengganu but did not took part in the exercise as most of its vehicles and men are currently assigned to the ESSCOM brigade in Sabah.

A Gempita ACV25mm during Eks Satria Perkasa 2016.
A Gempita ACV25mm during Eks Satria Perkasa 2016.

As for ACV and AVS variants, there is nothing to distinguish them externally. The AVS variant carries more radio equipment in the cabin while the ACV has command and control terminals. The other variants to be fitted with the Rogue RWS turret are the Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) and the Surveillance vehicles. The first vehicles of both variants are still undergoing factory acceptance tests.

— Malaysian Defence

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