FORT CARSON, Colo. — Fort Carson mechanics are in the midst of an 18-month project to upgrade as many Army Humvees in the region as possible.
Inside a Mountain Post maintenance bay, mechanics are replacing existing brake systems on up-armored Humvees with brand new anti-lock braking and electronic stability control systems (ABS/ESC).
“This is a safety upgrade,” said Chief Warrant Officer 5 Mark Miller, 4th Infantry Division’s Ordnance Logistics officer, G4 Maintenance. “The ABS/ESC upgrade will improve vehicle stopping distances, improve handling during emergency braking and reduce the risk of rollovers.”
Both active-duty and Army Reserve units use the up-armored vehicles for a wide range of missions. They are lightweight, diesel-powered four-wheel-drive tactical vehicles. The Humvee can carry a wide assortment of hardware, including machine guns, wire guided missiles and anti-tank weapons. The vehicle features 16 inches of ground clearance, performs in a variety of terrain for long periods with minimal maintenance and often carries cargo and occupants in conflict-oriented scenarios.
Earlier this year, the Army’s Tank-automotive and Armaments Command (TACOM) issued a work order to upgrade existing up-armored Humvees with the new braking and stability control systems. Army Field Support Battalion-Carson (AFSBN-Carson) then took the lead on the operations side to retrofit the Humvees on post.
“Along with Humvees used by active-duty battalions here, we’ve added the new braking system on Army Reserve and National Guard vehicles from Nebraska and Kansas so far,” said Gary Smallwood, project supervisor, AFSBN.
The team of 13 mechanics is a mix of government civilians and contractors, and they’re currently completing upgrades on two vehicles per day in an assembly line fashion. Smallwood said once the team is fully trained and functional, it should average four completed installs per day.
Compared to other upgrades, this one is no small task. Mechanics must not only replace brake rotors and calipers on all four of the vehicle’s wheels, they’ll also remove and replace all existing brake lines, electrical wiring, control apparatuses and vehicle computer links.
Miller contends that Soldiers who drive the upgraded vehicles should easily notice better performance.
“Our modern automobiles have these systems, which help prevent skidding and brake lock-up,” he said. “This system will also provide increased traction by preventing wheel slippage on loose terrain.”
As part of the upgrade, mechanics will install an indicator on the vehicle’s dash that will inform drivers of when the system engages. Drivers will also notice brake pedal feedback similar to modern passenger vehicles.
Based on data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Army anticipates this upgrade will produce a 54% reduction in accidents, a 74% reduction in fatal rollovers and a 45% reduction in fatal impacts.
For now, The AFSBN-Carson mechanics have plenty of work, as new arrivals continue to show up at their maintenance facility.
AFSBN-Carson officials expect the upgrade project to be complete during the next 18 months.