Lightweight metals leader Alcoa has been awarded a five-year contract from the U.S. Army worth up to $50 million for R&D projects focused on developing innovative, lightweighting solutions for ground combat vehicles.
The U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) awarded Alcoa Defense a “Ground Vehicle Light-Weighting” contract to support efforts to accelerate technology research and development and provide engineering solutions for Department of Defense ground vehicles and intelligent ground systems.
“This agreement with TARDEC builds on Alcoa Defense’s decades-long partnership with the U.S. Army to advance military ground vehicles,” said Eric Roegner, President of Alcoa Defense. “Alcoa’s lightweight solutions have improved troop protection while reducing vehicle weight and assembly time. We look forward to building on our successful track record to help develop the next generation combat vehicle.”
Alcoa’s first “work directive,” or project funded under the contract, is an initiative to advance Alcoa-developed aluminum weld wire alloys. These alloys have already been proven to increase the strength of welded joints—typically the weakest point on a vehicle—as well as reduce corrosion of those welded joints on combat vehicles. Under potential future work directives, Alcoa will provide material research, development, engineering, testing, and evaluation efforts related to ground vehicle lightweighting. These research and development efforts will address various technologies associated with lightweighting such as aluminum forming technology, fastening and joining, modeling and simulation, armor development, material development, material fabrication, energy conservation, and coating and corrosion technology.
Alcoa has built a strong track record of partnering with the U.S. Army to develop solutions that advance the performance of ground combat vehicles. In 2013, Alcoa announced a joint Alcoa-U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL) initiative to manufacture the world’s biggest single-piece forged aluminum hull for combat vehicles—the largest closed die forging ever made. This game-changing forging replaces the lower hull of a combat vehicle, significantly improving survivability over traditional welded hulls. In Army testing, the monohull has performed exceptionally well in mitigating the effects of blast events, such as those caused by Improvised Explosive Devices.
In 2005, the U.S. Army Tank-Automotive and Armaments Command (TACOM) awarded Alcoa a research, development and engineering contract to develop aluminum structures for ground combat and tactical vehicles under the Army Lightweight Structures Initiative. Alcoa delivered structural solutions that provided on average 30 to 50 percent weight savings over baseline designs.