Army researchers help reduce MRAP maintenance
August 15, 2013
- To reduce costs, the MRAP program looked for an internal diagnostic solution
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. (Aug. 15, 2013) -- Due to the immediate need for protecting Warfighters from improvised explosive devices, the Mine Resistant Ambushed Protected program rapidly procured several vehicles specifically designed for this purpose; safety was the main concern, sustainment costs were considered secondary.
An MRAP vehicle, of which there are several variants, is armored with a V-shaped hull and raised chassis, overall designed to protect crews from IED blasts, as well as fire from direct and indirect weapons.
The MRAP proved itself to the warfighter in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In a 2011 interview with USA Today, then-Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said MRAPs proved to be 10 times safer than Humvees in IED attacks and anecdotal evidence shows that troops in MRAPs are less likely to suffer burns than they are in Humvees. Thousands and thousands of lives have been saved and multiples of that in terms of limbs.
With the MRAP's success on the battlefield and the rapid acquisition program meeting the initial surge requirement, it was necessary to develop programs that addressed sustainment of these armored vehicles.
One of these sustainment costs is software licensing for original equipment manufacturer, or OEM; software applications needed to diagnose faults within the various subsystems.
Diagnostic/Prognostic Laboratory Lead Engineer Philip Dussault said the software applications provide capability well beyond the prescribed level of maintenance authorized for the vehicle maintainers, but require annual licensing arrangements that cost the MRAP program several million dollars each year.
To reduce this cost, the MRAP program looked for an organic diagnostic solution and came to the Engineering Support Division of the Aviation and Missile Research Development and Engineering Center.
The AMRDEC's Engineering Directorate maintains the "At-Platform Automatic Test Systems Diagnostic Software" for the Product Director for Test, Measurement, and Diagnostic Equipment. This software provides both analog and digital powertrain and braking system diagnostics for the Army's Tactical Wheeled Vehicle fleet.
The MRAP Joint Program Office requested Dussault and his team use the Diagnostic Software to evaluate two variants of MRAP vehicles for tests performed in the technical manuals and retrieval of diagnostic trouble codes to determine feasibility of replacing the OEM software.
Dussault said the test complexities associated with these OEM applications ranged from simple readings from the databus to instrument panel gauge activations and complicated proprietary communications to conduct cylinder cutout tests. Ensuring that the diagnostic software operated in the same manner as the OEM software for these specific tests was crucial to the success of the program.
"The MRAP integration into the PD-TMDE DS program has been a sterling example of collaboration between two acquisition programs and an RDECOM lab to provide real cost savings to the taxpayer," Dussault said. "Due to the success of the initial phase of this project, additional MRAP vehicles are being examined for sustainment cost reduction using this same process."
Full release of the MRAP enhanced DS software is anticipated later this year.
AMRDEC is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, which has the mission to develop technology and engineering solutions for America's Soldiers.
RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command. AMC is the Army's premier provider of materiel readiness -- technology, acquisition support, materiel development, logistics power projection, and sustainment -- to the total force, across the spectrum of joint military operations. If a Soldier shoots it, drives it, flies it, wears it, eats it or communicates with it, AMC provides it.