The most vulnerable part of a military vehicle is its tires. When flat, the entire vehicle, its advanced technology, and its occupants are at risk.
No Air, No Problem
The earliest military vehicles, circa 1910, had honeycomb tires similar to the tires pictured above. UK manufacturer MacNeillie brought back this type of tire a decade ago. At the same time, a Wisconsin engineering company, Resilient Technologies, has come out with their own “airless tire” for military, slow-moving, and off-road applications. These tires are bulletproof, can withstand the force of explosions, gunfire, extreme terrain, Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and have a maximum speed of 25mph.
According to soldiers who have driven vehicles fitted with them, the tires are capable of towing 1,000 gallons of water up a mountain or three pallets of ammo and batteries up a steep incline, while handling like normal rubber tires. Humvees have “run flat” tires that continue to roll despite very low air pressure, but “airless tires” are even better.
The technology, “Non-Pneumatic Tire” (NPT), is made of a polymeric web. NPTs keep vehicles moving in any terrain while not being slowed or stopped by punctures, increasing the possibility of escaping from dangerous situations. NPT was originally developed at the University of Wisconsin for the U.S. Army.
NPTs Coming To The Consumer Market
Resilient Technologies is best known for its ATVs, snowmobiles, motorcycles, and off-road vehicles. The company tested the new tires on Polaris’ military ATVs and has begun offering them commercially through Polaris’ consumer products division, which manufactures over 200,000 off-road, all-terrain, and utility vehicles yearly.
According to the manufacturer, “Developing tires that will allow vehicles to continue to roll no matter what is thrown at them, even roadside bombs, is a real priority for the military and could be the difference between life and death for our troops in the field.”
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