Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Rubber Tracks for Tanks And Armored Personnel Carriers

You know when an idea is so obvious and great that nobody ever thought of it? Rubber tracks for military vehicles is a great example. These are essentially large, tough rubber bands that replace the steel tracks. The Economist recently wrote about the advantages of replacing metal tracks with rubber tracks. Here is the Cliffs Notes version of the advantages.
  • less fatigue on occupants
  • occupants less prone to prickly and numb limbs
  • occupants' hands do not get tired from grabbing onto safety handles too tightly
  • less vibration means less wear and tear, especially to electronics hardware
  • amount of time occupant can spend on board increases from 1.5 hours to 10 hours
  • weight of suspension can be reduced by 25%
  • fuel consumption as a result can be reduced by 30%
  • rubber tracks are lighter so they can be wider, thus improving traction in mud and sand
  • better acceleration and handling (almost as well as wheeled vehicles)
  • quieter ride means no need for crew to use intercom
  • quieter means they can sneak up on enemies easier
  • less maintenance: steel tracks need replacement at 400 km versus 3,000 km for rubber
  • with increasing number of peacekeeping missions, rubber does not destroy asphalt roads
Canada and Norway are in the process of converting all of their tracked APCs to rubber. Others are following suit. Currently, there is no rubber that is strong and durable enough for full-sized tanks.


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