June 11th 2012 - Mobile Test Rig for Specialist Vehicle programme rolls out for start of testing
Vienna, Austria – In another major step forward for the Specialist Vehicle (SV) programme, and only three weeks after the announcement that SV is secure in the MoD’s Armoured Fighting Vehicle pipeline, the General Dynamics UK-led SV industry team has rolled-out the programme’s first Mobile Test Rig (MTR) at a ceremony at team-member General Dynamics European Land Systems’ facility in Vienna, Austria, less than two years after signing the SV contract. This Mobile Test Rig will play a key role in reducing risk and maximising the reliability of the SV platform and its components through a rigorous series of “testing to destruction” tests over the next year. Six prototypes are also in late design; three Scout, one Repair, one Recovery and one Protected Mobility Recce Support (PMRS). These will progressively join the MTR as the acceptance and reliability trials ramp up.
The MTR is similar in design to the basic PMRS variant of SV, which is capable of carrying a crew of two and a complement of 95th percentile soldiers. It will be used to de-risk the automotive components of SV which so far have been individually tested on static rigs and will be installed in the prototype vehicles delivered to the customer for the final acceptance and reliability trials before Main Gate 2. It also will be used to identify any early life failures in order that all components on the prototypes can be fully tested and deemed reliable ahead of acceptance and reliability trials.
Common components/sub systems for SV that will be tested on the MTR include the engine and gearbox, cooling group, running gear, suspension system and track system.
Testing to destruction
The MTR will be subjected to a punishing regime of tests over the next year. The first trials will prove the performance characteristics of the design of the SV common base platform (CBP) across a range of weights in order to prove the vehicle’s growth potential over the 30 years of its life. The vehicle will be ballasted to those different weights in order to demonstrate its mobility performance across a range of conditions including gap crossing, steep slopes, acceleration and deceleration.
The MTR will then enter Accelerated Life Testing (ALT) to provide early reliability evidence of the platform and its components, whilst testing to minimise noise, harshness, vibration and acoustics will be carried out. The ALT will consist of approximately 10,000 Km of running on various terrains and 33 Battle Field Mission equivalents will be completed, replicating the diversity of missions likely to be faced by SV during service. The testing regime will provide progressive assurance evidence of the performance of SV to the customers well ahead of final trials on the prototype vehicles to be delivered towards the end of the demonstration phase.
An added advantage of testing with the MTR is the ability of the SV team to refine the processes that will be used when the final trials are carried out on the final prototype vehicles. Those processes include the Trials Readiness Review (TRR), including vehicle sign-off, and the Data recording and Corrective Action System (DRACAS). The Trials Readiness Review and vehicle sign-off allows the SV team to confirm that the vehicle is ready to commence trials, with all supporting documentation and the appropriate support, spares and trained personnel available. The DRACAS system ensures that all incidents and key activities that occur during the trials programme are captured, analysed and acted upon. This is a closed-loop system that ensures that any weaknesses or deficiencies revealed by the testing are addressed in the evolving design.
Ultimately, these tests will prepare SV for its final MoD trials which have some of the most demanding reliability targets ever established for a developmental AFV program. Once those targets are achieved, users will benefit from the key advantages of the SV’s common base platform approach, including a lower cost of ownership and smaller logistics footprint thanks to the commonality of its components across the fleet, and the reliability that will allow the Army use SV far from its base for long periods of time.
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