Vehicle weight reduction is an effective strategy for reducing fuel consumption in civilian vehicles. For combat vehicles, it presents not only an important opportunity to reduce fuel use and associated logistics, but also important advantages in transport and mobility on the battlefield. Although there have been numerous efforts in the past to reduce the overall weight of combat vehicles, combat vehicle weight has continued to increase over time due to new threats and missions. For example, whereas early combat vehicles had limited armor protection (located primarily in the front of the vehicle), the emergence of all-aspect threats has resulted in armor that is distributed throughout the vehicle and thus has increased the vehicle’s weight.
On December 8 and 9, 2014, the National Materials and Manufacturing Board (NMMB) of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine held a workshop to explore opportunities in lightweight materials for armored vehicles. This was the ninth workshop in an ongoing workshop series for the U.S. military on materials and manufacturing issues organized under the auspices of the Defense Materials Manufacturing and Infrastructure (DMMI) Standing Committee of the NMMB. The 2-day public workshop discussed future advances in weight reduction by materials substitution for vehicles, including such topics as armor, structure, automotive parts, and armaments. Participants included members of military research laboratories and researchers from industry and academia. The participants
came from all sectors, not only ground vehicles, but also naval and aerospace fields, where both weight reduction and corrosion resistance are important factors.
This workshop focused on materials substitution as a means toward weight reduction, considering options in a variety of vehicle systems (such as power train, structure, and armor). It also explored the potential impact of materials substitution on system performance and life-cycle requirements. Although there are other methods for reducing vehicle weight, such as changing the role of vehicles or automating such functions as weapons handling and driving, these were not discussed in detail; the workshop primarily focused on materials solutions. A complete statement of task is shown in Appendix A.
The workshop was conducted as a convening activity. In accordance with procedures of the National Academies, all participants provided individual opinions at the meeting, and no consensus findings, conclusions, or recommendations were developed at the workshop or as an outcome of the workshop. The report summarizes the views expressed by individual workshop participants. While the committee is responsible for the overall quality and accuracy of the report as a record of what transpired at the workshop, the views contained in the report are not necessarily those of all workshop participants, the committee, or the National Academies.
The workshop agenda for the 2 days was organized into three main topics:
- Armor issues,
- Structure and automotive issues, and
- System effects and testing.
In addition, the workshop opened with a plenary talk discussing the opportunities and challenges in materials lightweighting for combat vehicles in the U.S. Army, and the workshop hosted a panel discussion on the implications of armor, structure, and automotive issues. Appendix B lists the workshop participants, and Appendix C includes a complete workshop agenda. The plenary talk, three topical sessions, panel discussion, and concluding remarks from the workshop participants are summarized in subsequent sections of this workshop proceedings.