UK military trucks pass extreme environment trials

New military supply vehicles to be supplied to Britain's armed forces have been subjected to a battery of tests to assess their reliability in desert and arctic conditions, all without leaving the UK

The environmental trials on 12 different types of MAN military logistic trucks were carried out by QinetiQ in its test chambers at the Ministry of Defence Boscombe Down site as part of an independent 18-month evaluation contract.

The £1.3bn supply deal between the MoD and MAN currently includes over 7,000 vehicles destined for the Army, Royal Marines and RAF. The trucks, designed as a logistic workhorse for military operations, offer a number of improvements over their predecessors. As well as more comfortable cabs, air conditioning and the latest in diagnostic and fault-finding systems, they can be fitted with an armour pack to protect crew from small arms fire and mine blasts. Expected to be in service for at least 20 years, they are designed to carry around 400 defined loads and will replace a diverse fleet dating as far back as the 1970s.

Over three separate six-week test phases at Boscombe Down, 12 vehicle types have been subjected to extremes of temperature to ensure reliable operation. The first simulated desert conditions of up to +49°C with solar levels reaching 1,120W/sq m.

The second created tropical conditions at around +40°C but with relative humidity levels of 80 per cent. The final phase saw temperatures plunge to Artic levels of -46°C for specially prepared winterised vehicles and a chilly -32°C for the standard fleet.

During each of the phases, every piece of equipment on each of the vehicles was regularly tested to ensure it functioned consistently. This included engine starts and crew heating and cooling systems, right down to operating the wiper blades and brakes. All ancillary items including winches, pumps and cranes were similarly tested to the same exacting standards.

Further testing on the winterised variant is planned during the early part of 2008.

Image: Cold trial in QinetiQ's environmental chamber

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