Corps Looking at Capsules and Chimneys for Blast Protection

The commander of the Marine Corps’ top requirements office said Tuesday he’s shifting resources to provide a mix of new vehicles to modernize the force’s ground mobility and refitting the current fleet of 20,000 Humvees with new technologies that protect its crew from roadside bombs without putting on a lot of pounds in armor.

Lt. Gen. George Flynn, head of the Marine Corps Combat Development Command, told reporters at a small gathering in DC that he is keenly interested in outfitting some Corps units with the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle — despite calls by the debt commission to 86 the program — but his service can’t afford to replace its Humvee fleet with the high tech new vehicle.

One of the challenges we have is how to balance the ‘Iron Triangle’ of payload, protection and performance… Armoring is an important piece of what we do, but you have to balance that against mobility and equally as important is transportability. Everything has gotten heavier. The question is what technologies are out there to help us balance that issue of weight, mobility and transportability.

Flynn said the Corps was looking at specifically two technologies to add protection without a lot of weight: capsules and chimneys.

The way Flynn explains it, capsules are analogous to race cars which enclose their drivers in cocoons of protection in the event of an accident. If the stock car hits the wall at 210 mph, the car is destroyed but the driver walks away.

We’re testing those vehicles on an existing Humvee-type frame out at Yuma right now to see when you add a capsule to the vehicle what kind of mobility do you have and how does the frame hold up.

The chimney idea is to incorporate vent technology on vehicles to channel the blast waves of an IED detonation out of or away from the crew compartment of a vehicle.

I’m taking a look at an integrated protection solution that includes chimney technology. that allows you to mitigate the blast through an actual chimney that’s integrated into the vehicle.

Flynn added that current Marine Corps plans are to purchase around 5,500 JLTVs and have a fleet of 20,000 Humvees.

— Christian

  • William C.

    This highlights the problem with what JLTV has become. It has become MRAP Plus rather than a genuine HMMWV replacement.

  • blight

    William: Are you suggesting soldiers train on the Humvee/Humvee replacement, then break out the older MRAP where appropriate?

  • Byron Skinner

    Good Evening Folks.

    Lt. General Flynn appears to be acknowledging what the casualty numbers have been saying for quite a while now, Their is a fatal vulnerability in the design or construction in the US MRAP’s. The Up Armored HUMVEE’s appear to have also had a fatal structural or material vulnerability in them also.

    There is no reason to believe that this problem has been corrected in the JTLV.

    The idea of a cage or capsule to to enclose the crew on the surface doesn’t see to warrant an merit. The bomb makers have clearly advanced the science of the shaped charge device beyond anything that the US technological base can overcome with existing materials and design. The back blast of the propellant for the devices have even become part of the device and the projection primary charge is designed to penetrate just such a capsule.

    The US has yet to find a technology that will defeat the bomb makers, perhaps these expensive technological dead ends are not the solution to the problem. Billions of dollars have been spent in R&D and the manufacture of vehicles that are in a rather short period of time defeated by what is assumed to Iranian bomb makers.

    Maybe the solution can be found in other places such as operational tactics, counterintelligence, the aggressive use of other weapons/ISR platforms. For sure what we are doing is not working, is expensive and is killing a lot of Marines.

    Byron Skinner

    • Guest

      Sorry Sir,

      But I fail to see where in the article it implies that “fatal vulnerability” or “fatal structural” of MRAPs or UPArmored HUMVEEs. IMHO both MRAPs and Armored HUMVEEs were meant as a temporary solution. Or would you rather have our boys continue dying in soft-skinned vehicles. At least MRAP and UPArmored HUMVEEs can offer a better chance of survival or even a mental uplift to troops who know that at least things are being tried to protect them.

      MRAPs and UPArmored Humvees are by no means perfect, thus JTLV. But JTLV does seem to be another case of evolved MRAP…still bit too heavy and may or may not be the right successor to HUMVEE. Is it just me or does US military ground vehicle procurement seem to be out of whack these days?

      Operation tactic, counterintelligence, ISR platforms are not alternatives to improved ground vehicles, but are complementary. Both Army and Marines are adapting to the changing situation on ground and have invested in platforms like UAV/UAS and MC-12W. As bad as it sounds, countering IEDs and the like will require multiple solutions and in the process, lives will be lost.

    • mike j

      I have a foolproof solution for countering IEDs:

      Stop doing decade-long ‘stability operations’ in parts of the world that hate us. Mines can’t kill you if you aren’t there. If a war won’t fix the problem within a few years, then a war is not the right answer.

      • Mike L

        No, offense… But changing an entire country cannot be done in a couple of years. The government knew at the time that we were going to be in it for the long haul. It’s the American public that is forgetful and only remembers what the media tells them. However, I remember 9-11… and I also remember deploying to Kuwait and Iraq in 2003 and having our Commanding Officer tell us to expect at a minimum a 7 year engagement.

        Unfortunately we come from a generation that has the internet, tivo, and microwave ovens… we are a generation of instant gratification and that’s what we’ve come to expect in every aspect of our lives… However, that’s not the world we live in. The only way we can truly win this war and effectively change a nation is over time, lots and lots of time.

        So we build bigger, stronger and more protective vehicles to keep our war fighters safe in the mean time.

        • mike j

          I’m sorry to say this, because I respect your service. We don’t have the time, the patience, the money, or the understanding it takes to fix Afghanistan. The war is affecting this country too, in bad ways. Long wars always take a heavy toll, and not just in materiel and lives.

          I remember 9/11. I remember the 9/11 Commission, also. The attack was *approved* from Afghanistan. The majority of the planning, the funding, and the training happened elsewhere. The people who caused 9/11 are no longer in Afghanistan, and are still causing terrorism. They don’t need a fixed address. Some terrorism is ‘homegrown’ in this country and other western democracies. A rebuilt Afghanistan is no guarantee against another 9/11. Nation building is therefore not worth the effort. Police, spies, and special forces can deal with terrorists. Our Army needs to come home.

          • Mike L

            So while you say Nation Building is not worth it, I beg to differ. If you live in an area where the Police aren’t able to help then you have to do what is right to make your neighborhood safe. You have to think about the innocent people like the man’s wife who suffers everyday at the hands of her abuser. You may take a few licks in the fight, but if you can resolve the situation and save the woman, then perhaps you can keep him from ever reaching your front door, or those of your neighbors.

            It’s not in me to stand by idly while others suffer… Maybe that’s why I enlisted; I love our nation and the freedoms it provides. But, we are living in a tough neighborhood with some good neighbors and some bad… The police aren’t doing anything. I will step up and challenge the abusive man… Will you?

          • mike j

            We can’t afford to make emotional decisions. It’s that simple. Afghanistan is not a house across the road, it is another country on the other side of the planet. Look around you. Our country is in tough shape. We stand a better chance of helping the world if we are strong and stable ourselves. The places that need help most ARE right across the street, not halfway around the Earth.

      • crackedlenses

        Remember 9/11, and you will see why we are still fighting…..

  • Robert

    Maybe we should get off the da*n roads. Thats where the IEDs are. Can’t our military operate without a road?

    • blight

      No. Afghanistan is pretty rugged terrain, so you’re stuck in passes, dirt roads or dry riverbeds and the like. Iraq was desert, but had urbanized areas with houses, or rural farm areas with irrigation dikes. Not areas that can be easily traversed by Humvees.

      That and the logistics vehicles are wheeled. Thus your logistical linelife is road-bound.

  • Maybe the US military are trying to get too much out of their light armoured vehicle requirement. Any candidate vehicle needs to make the payoff between protection and size-weight-mobility. You could pour enormous amounts of money into developing an armoured humvee, and Iran or anyone else could deploy a cheap weapon against it in no time.
    Also armouring any existing vehicle, like humvee, is always going to leave you with a compromised design. The US should perhaps take a closer look at the British Ocelot LPV – designed from scratch as an armoured vehicle, and a modular multi-role design too.

    • blight

      MRAP design adds weight that doesn’t necessarily translate into RPG or EFP protection. Any “protected” vehicle will end up being protected against both. However, if a vehicle gets too heavy then you may as well employ anti-tank mines. At which point you can’t armor your way to safety.

  • Byron Skinner

    Good Morning Folks,

    To Guest. I beg to differ with you. The fact that Lt. General Flynn is looking at this issue says there is a problem with the vehicles that the Marines are using in combat.

    Quantification of weekly casualty numbers show that the marines are in fact taking more a larger increase in multiple casualties per incident in “vehicles” then the Army. This is based of course on very limited information the DoD provides.

    The questions that might clear this up is the DoD is buying these vehicles for three manufactures. Is there one “brand” that is more prone to catastrophic damage then the other two?

    Another issue is that in the three operational areas where battalion size units are fighting in Afghanistan the Marines in the Southeast seem by the KIA numbers to be taking disproportionately larger numbers of killed in action.

    There could be several reasons for this, the area is more valuable to the Taliban, the Talban are using their better and more seasoned fighters against the Marines, the Marines are in fact tactically different for the Army is that a factor, the latest in Iranian bomb technology gets there first, or is their another equipment problem that is the result of a conscious decision made by the Marines when they first went in Afghanistan on an item that both the Army and Marines use?

    That decision was to use lighter body armor then the Army. The Marines are currently taking a lot more small arms casualties then the Army is again. Is there a reason?

    The number of Marines killed by small arms fire is again disproportionally higher then the Army, why?

    War by definition cost lives, that is a given, but it is, and has been for a long time that the American Military provides the best and safest equipment to its troops that is available. The question is in Afghanistan is that commitment being fulfilled, or or there other considerations off the battlefield being considered?


    Byron Skinner

  • Byron Skinner

    Good Morning Folks,

    Looks like we hit a Marine a nerve here and they did some thinking out of the box this week. Yesterday 14 M-1A1’s were flown to Afghanistan a to assist the Marines. It appears that the marines have decided that the MRAP’s are not as advertised. I’m not sure if this is a good solution or not. While it will provide some much needed direst fire power support with its 120mm Gun it was shown in Iraq to not be immune to EFP’s/IED’s. But its a start perhaps into the right direction of solving this issue.


    Byron Skinner

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