If Formula1 racers are thoroughbreds that need to pampered and cosseted, then armored combat vehicles are warhorses that need to stand up to the worst of the worst. That makes it a surprise when BAE Systems announces that it's taken an active damping suspension designed for F1 cars and adapted it for Sweden's Combat Vehicle 90 (CV90). Billed as a world's first for a tracked vehicle, the upgrade is claimed to improve battlefield speed and handling.
Suspension systems are extremely important on armored vehicles – especially tracked ones like the CV90, where a bad bump can throw a tread and shatter drive wheels. Until recently, armor suspension was fairly basic, relying on standard suspension technology which uses passive springs and oil dampers.
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First introduced in F1 racers In the 1990s, the new Active Damping technology doesn't wait for the bumps to come to it. The system calculates the speed of the vehicle and anticipates the terrain ahead, then pressurizes the suspension at independent points to lift the chassis and keep the vehicle level. According to BAE, Active Damping was designed for cars made of carbon composite weighing less than 700 kg (1,543 lb), so the tricky bit was adapting it for a 35-tonne (38-short ton) combat wagon.
BAE installed the Active Damping technology on current variants of the CV90 combat vehicle, which is designed and built by BAE in Sweden. Originally developed for the Swedish army during the Cold War, it operates with armed forces in Norway, Finland, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Denmark – and it saw combat with NATO forces in Afghanistan.
According to BAE, the new suspension allowed the CV90 to set new speed records on rough terrain for the tracked armored vehicle; making it 30 to 40 percent faster and outrunning Main Battle Tanks. The CV90s are not only more agile, but there's a 40 percent reduction in vehicle pitch acceleration, which provides greater stability for more accurate gunnery on the move, and makes things easier on the crew with less fatigue. There's also less wear and tear on the vehicle for reduced through-life costs.
"Adapting the Active Damping system for the first time from a lightweight car to a heavy tracked vehicle such as CV90 was a unique challenge for us," says Dan Lindell, CV90 Platform Manager at BAE Systems. "But this advanced technology will deliver results to our customers in terms of vehicle performance and savings on the through life costs, as well as providing real benefits to the front line soldier."
Source: BAE SystemsView gallery - 5 images