U.S. Marine Corps Utility Task Vehicles receive multiple upgrades


The Marine Corps’ Utility Task Vehicles are undergoing several upgrades designed to improve the safety and performance of the vehicle. Ashley Calingo, U.S. Marine Corps Systems Command, reports.


U.S. Marine Corps Utility Task Vehicles receive multiple upgrades
Utility Task Vehicle (UTV) of the U.S. Marine Corps (Picture source: USMC)


Using critical feedback from Marines and taking inspiration spanning the automotive industry to desert racing, engineers and logisticians from the Light Tactical Vehicle program office at Program Executive Officer Land Systems have been working diligently to research, test, procure and implement changes to the UTV. These changes include high clearance control arms, new run-flat tires, floorboard protection, a road march kit, a clutch improvement kit and an environmental protection cover. “We bought the vehicle as a [commercial-off-the-shelf] solution, so it’s not going to have everything we want right from the factory,” said Jason Engstrom, lead systems engineer for the UTV at PEO Land Systems.

Since PEO Land Systems started fielding the UTV in 2017, Marines have consistently pushed the limits of their vehicles, said Engstrom, in many ways beyond what is expected or imagined with a typical off-the-shelf solution.

High clearance control arms

The first of these upgrades involves installing high clearance control arms on the vehicle—a crucial component of the vehicle’s suspension system. “With the different types of terrain Marines cover in these vehicles, we noticed the [original] control arms were frequently getting bent,” said Engstrom. “Rocks were probably the biggest hazard, and that’s primarily where the Marines were driving.”

A bent or damaged control arm can disable a vehicle, said UTV logistician Rodney Smith. To address this issue, the team looked to industry and ultimately settled on a control arm comprised of material about twice as strong as the original control arms and that provided an extra 2.5 inches of clearance. With this upgrade, Marines are better equipped to drive off the beaten path while minimizing their risk of damaging the control arms on their vehicles.

Clutch improvement kit

The UTV team is also outfitting the vehicle with a clutch improvement kit. The UTV’s clutch is an important component of the vehicle’s transmission system, which is essential in making the vehicle run. “One of the things that came right from the factory was a belt-driven [transmission] system,” said Engstrom. “Just like with the control arms, a broken belt takes the whole vehicle out of action.”

The upgraded clutch kit reconfigures the clutch system, enabling it to better engage the belt to keep it from breaking, said Engstrom.

Floorboard protection

The team has also began upgrading the vehicle’s floorboard, which showed evidence of damage after a recent deployment. “When Marines deployed the vehicles to Australia, they found that high-density sticks and branches on the ground have the potential to pop up and puncture the plastic floorboard, which is a safety hazard,” said Engstrom.


 

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