Memory Metal Suspension System

Gempita AVS, signals 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.

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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9 Comments

  1. With titanium, i doubt if this new thechnology would cost less than the current suspension setup.

    By the way, currently what is the difference if any between a mechanized regiment like the 19th RAMD and armoured/cavalry regiment like the 1st KAD? I see that the 19th RAMD is also receiving the Gempita ACV and ATGM, which i previously thought are variants exclusive to KAD.

    Reply
    AFAIK not much really except on how they deploy the dismounted infantry

  2. Mechanised infantry are trained to operate as part of combined arms units and will have skills – such as infantry/vehicle cooperation – that other units will not have. The Bosnia deployment played a huge part in influencing our thinking on how future mechanised units would look like and perform. The traditional roles of cavalry units – especially based on British doctrine – is recce, flank screening, escort work, etc. By and larger, troops organic to a cavalry unit will not have the training that their counterparts in mechanised units have. There will also be slight differences in organisation between mechanised and cavalry units.

    Reply
    As both units are in the same brigade, though not for long, my guess their differences could be smaller still.

  3. Whilst I appreciate the value of having a new suspension system; my main concern is the army seriously looking at improving the protection levels of the Adnan and AV-8 against shoulder fired weapons and splinters. Granted, I’m not expecting something as drastic as STANAG Level 6 [this would make both too heavy and would require new engines and gears] but stuff like chicken wire and composite add on panels would be useful. In restricted terrain threats from shoulder fired weapons may be less of a concern but in restricted terrain such as plantations and in urban areas; where engagements ranges will be shorter and threats can materialise from any direction, shoulder fired weapons will be a concern. This applies also to the PT-91s.

  4. Those cage armor (and other type inprovised armor) are impromptu at best and could be done independently at the workshop when the need arises

    In fact, some of Asean countries did just that. TNI personnel put coconut trunk on their lorries during Acheh offensive a decade ago while Thailand used wood as add on armour for its M60A3 tank

  5. Anyone here know the list of AFVs tested for the gempita program? Other than the PARS, the other contestant that i know of is the Patria (or is it the Rosomak variant?)

    Reply
    Piranha. Not sure whether 4 or 5

  6. Dundun,

    There has to be plans in place for such a contingency; instead of just reacting to events or when the need arises. Impromptu or not ”chicken wire” has to be fabricated and has to be bolted on, this doesn’t happen overnight. An issue to consider is by and large; armies tend not to do things that are not prescribed in doctrine. Even if they do, it takes time and often only after painful lessons.
    Like others, our problem is we’ve never [in recent times] been exposed to such a threat; thus the lack of urgency. There is a greater urgency with the Thais as they’ve had to deal with IEDs for many years.

    In addition to Mogadishu; a prime example of AFVs being vulnerable to shoulder fired weapons is the Cavalry operated V-150 that was hit by an RPG-2 up north. Both crew members died when the round penetrated the hull. There were also several instances of Ferrets being damaged by M-79s. In WW2 the various combatants resorted to not only logs and sandbags but also mattresses to detonate shape charge warheads.

  7. Mr Marhalim,

    Could you please keep a summary of how many vehicles of what variants of AV8 have been delivered to which unit? It would be quite interesting to know which units are deploying the AV8s and also settle once and for all how many variants of what were actually purchased.

    For now we believe the variants are:
    78 ACV30, 30mm cannon
    54 ATGM, 30mm cannon and 4 Ingwe ATGMs
    46 ACV25, 25mm turret, amphibious
    8 Mortar, 120mm
    24 Surveillance, radar and Rogue RWS
    13 Command, Rogue RWS
    3 Signals, Rogue RWS
    9 Ambulance
    9 Armoured recovery
    9 Maintenance
    4 Engineering/NBC

    There are still 14 Rogue RWS unassigned, if the purchase of 54 Rogue RWS is correct.

    Reply
    Its actually 68 ACV30. As for the Rogue RWS, I think it will be fitted to other variants as well recovery, sappers and probably the ambulance as well. As for the final production variant numbers, I would if I could, as for the units, its mentioned in the post, 19th RMR and 1 KAD.

  8. I would have liked to see an AA variant with a MANPADs stabilised mount and a passive detector. This would seem more useful rather than NBC and mortar variants. Then again I suppose protection against low level targets can be provided by GAPU Starstreaks on 4x4s. What really surprised me was the 54 anti-tank variants. I wasn’t expecting such a high number but I suppose this is an indication of how serious the army is taking the threat posed by MBTs. On top of that a decision was made to fit each vehicle with a panoramic sight giving it a hunter killer capability. I’m assuming that both gunner – if not the commander – will have thermals.

    For me, the decision to arm the AT variant with a 30mm is also surprising as the anti-tank variants are supposed to provide units with anti-tank defence using Ingwe from a stand off range [highly dependent on the type of terrain]. It is not expected that the vehicles
    will come in close to enemy IFVs to enable the 30mm to be used.
    If indeed the auto cannon is intended to be a last ditch self defence option [because the anti-tank variant is supposed to provide
    anti-tank defence when operating as part of combined arms units and not be employed as an independent tank hunter]; it would have made more sense for a lighter and less bulky 25mm cannon [and ammo] to have been fitted; given that the vehicle’s main weapon is Ingwe.

  9. Azlan

    Unless said MANPAD variant has a better performance missile than the Iglas and Starstreaks, there really isn’t much further value add.

    Yeah it’s quite good to see a real under-armour ATGM capability at last, yet it would be nice to get Ingwe ATGMs for the infantry battalion support companies as well.

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