Suspension Modification for Up-Amoured Vehicles
03 May 2023
A major military vehicle OEM, in response to the increasing use of IEDs during Operation Enduring Freedom, had a pressing need to provide up-amoured vehicles to the fight. These were to be modifications on existing vehicles, being produced on a production line in the southern United States. The addition of armour to protect the soldiers resulted in a substantial weight gain, and the vehicle suffered from performance degradation due to the increased weight and higher centre of gravity.
General Kinetics received an urgent request from the customer’s lead suspension Engineer looking for help in resolving a roll stiffness issue that became apparent when additional armour was added to the vehicle cab. As the Tier 1 supplier of the damping systems for our customer, General Kinetics was their first and only call for assistance.
Due to the nature of the request and the fact that without the armoured vehicles, soldiers were in peril, all available resources were brought to bear. The roll stiffness issue proposed to the customer was the addition of a spring function to a much larger damper that had not before been mated to that particular vehicle. The damping rate was increased which, with the addition of a concentric spring element, restored the original ride height and mobility, and provided additional roll resistance to offset the added weight and momentum of the armour.
Results & Benefits
Within one week of receiving the request, the General Kinetics engineering team modified the design of an existing shock absorber to include a significant load-carrying spring element, adapted it to fit the customer’s vehicle, and supplied samples for test-fitting. Within two weeks, production-like prototype dampers were on the way to the customer for field validation. Series production began 4 weeks later upon receipt of new material from our supply base, and the customer met their technical and delivery challenges in getting a more protected vehicle into the field.
Feedback from soldiers in the user community was immediate and positive, as among others, we received a first-person report from a Sergeant returning from a deployment, who had been a vehicle commander in one of the newly-armoured trucks and he offered that the added armour had “saved his ass in Iraq”.