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50ºC, CRT can result in up to 50% weight reduction, up to 70% less vibration, up to 13.5 decibels of noise reduction and as much as 30% in fuel savings, as well as enabling vehicles to reach higher speeds without loss of traction.

“Only with an integrated approach from the outset of the acquisition cycle can mobility truly be realised,” observes Sloan. “Soucy’s CRT not only enables operational reach and tactical mobility, but also is far superior to steel tracks. By reducing the logistic and sustainment burden on land platforms, an army can maximise its time on task before pausing to replenish or carry out condition-based maintenance. Vehicles with greater mobility and availability are key in taking and holding ground.”

CRT requires half the time to install or replace, and a track can cover at least 5,000km before its durability is compromised. Given that Soucy has also been working closely with OEMs to investigate how CRT can work with advancing capabilities such as electric drives and advanced suspension systems, that performance will no doubt only improve in the future.

future in which a tracked platform operating without a rubber track will be considered less than optimal, due to the high level of logistic support it will require, as well as for its inability to self- deploy unsupported for long periods. In fact, CRT could become a vital component for vehicles in expeditionary roles that require a force to deploy over large distances and remain on task for long periods without imposing too great a physical burden on the warfighter. “Trucks and infantry fighting vehicles are heavy enough,” remarks Doug Morrison, US business development director at Soucy. “With CRT, you don’t need the wedge bolts or track pads that you need to carry with a steel track. That further reduces the load, so you can conservatively reduce weight by 30%, which improves fuel efficiency and greatly extends your operational reach.”

On track for the future Soucy’s vision of CRT’s role in the future of military vehicles is not just speculation. It is based on rigorous testing and, crucially, operational deployment in Afghanistan and Iraq, where countries

“With CRT, you don’t need the wedge bolts or track pads that you need to carry with a steel track. That further reduces the load, so you can conservatively reduce weight by 30%.”

“This need for CRT is underpinned by a need for a more expeditionary design,” Sloan adds. “Of course, vehicles will be networked and digitally connected, and will perhaps move to an unmanned capability one day soon, but the one constant will be a need for persistent all-weather terrain trafficability – the ability to move over soft ground and unstructured terrain.”

“CRT is being continuously developed to reduce the sustainment or logistic burden common to track platforms while coping with increased vehicle weight, without compromising on its many other benefits,” he continues. “As armies gain a better understanding of how the next generation is likely to fight in the future, CRT is becoming the track system of choice.” Soucy sees CRT as a key enabler in the projection of armour and foresees a

including Denmark, Norway and Canada have used it. CRT has already been adapted to a variety of platforms, including the M113, CV90, Bronco and BV206, though Soucy can also provide bespoke solutions, with track lengths manufactured to suit different vehicle sizes and roadwheel stations. This adaptability means it has strong potential for application in remote- controlled vehicles (RCVs), which is a key focus for military R&D. RCVs will increasingly allow access to high-risk areas without putting human lives in danger. In such applications, the advantages of CRT come to the fore. Less vibration means less impact on electrical components and sensors. Reduced noise increases the opportunity for stealthy approach to a target, as does the fact that the rubber track does not

Defence & Security Systems International /

create the same dust clouds as steel track, so does not so easily give away the vehicle’s position on the battlefield. Furthermore, less maintenance means a vehicle without a crew is less likely to break down and be stranded. Add to this the fact that CRT has been blast-resistance tested to STANAG Level 3, so can withstand up to 8kg of explosives, and it becomes potentially a vital component for RCVs in bomb disposal operations.

“The track gives a smooth ride with less vibration, which is particularly important to not only minimise crew fatigue, but also reduce the impact on electronic systems,” says Morrison. “That will become especially important as we move towards directed energy weapons, which require a stable platform.” “With RCVs, you can get smooth and quiet performance, especially if you are using a hybrid-electric drive,” he adds. “In the future, RCVs will be able to achieve a close to silent approach to the enemy over short distances. Over longer distances, as RCVs have no crew, theless you have to worry about maintenance the better.”

When we speak, Morrison is at a test site in Yuma, Arizona, working with the US Department of Defense (DoD) on test projects for the US Army and US Marine Corps (USMC). “We briefed the Army Science Board on our efforts to develop capability for 60t infantry fighting vehicles, as well as making battle tanks lighter,” says Morrison. “So began a series of collaborative efforts, which included a 35t assault vehicle trial for the USMC. Next, we will begin an amphibious trial, so we are putting CRT in the water to see how it performs.” Soucy’s CRT has already been selected for use in what is arguably the most advanced platform on the planet – the Redback Infantry Fighting Vehicle, designed by Hanwha Defense, which is under consideration by the Australian Commonwealth to fulfil its requirement for Project LAND 400 Phase 3. Innovative, versatile, durable and battle-tested, the CRT is changing the way tracked vehicles can operate in the field. The paradigm shift some foresee is already under way. ● 39

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