This new technology caught my eye recently. I read about them on mike sparks infamous combat reform website. I believe that all vehicles sent into high risk areas should have a strong off road capability, one that just can't be supplied by wheels (and no, not even the venerable humvee passes the grade there)*. Being tied to predictable and exposed road networks, where the enemy can successfully ambush you his lowest grade troops, would be embarrassing. Furthermore, wheeled vehicles put their occupants at risk when driven into dead ends: Unlike tracked vehicles, they don't have the ability to turn inside their own length and simply drive away. No, these suckers are in a rut now, busy doing a 9 point turn under fire to get out of the tight spot - instead of hauling ass out of that joint. Seconds count in combat!
*For the longest time, steel caterpillar treads served admirably in this capacity, equipping the primitive tanks which broke the deadlock of trench warfare in WW1, and setting the stage for a whole line of vehicles which would be based in its image. Now, we have something even better available to us, and there is no excuse not to take advantage of them. The benefits of caterpillar treads extend beyond usage by main battle tanks and infantry fighting vehicles, although it must be said that, pound for pound, wheeled vehicles can only carry 72% as much armor as a tracked vehicle.
Benefits of band track technology
Following are recorded benefits relative to the T130 steel track based on M113 APC testing by TACOM/TARDEC at Yuma Proving Ground, and by United Defense at Pelham Range, Fort McClellan in Alabama. * Weight - Reduced by approximately 50% of standard T130 steel track. * Cost - 10% less than T130 steel track. * Durability -4000+ miles. * Noise - Reduced by 6 dB (A), interior and exterior (reduction to level comparable to heavy truck). * Vibration Reduced by 30% (70% in actual field use). * Maintenance - Minimal to negligible. There is no periodic replacement of pads, no tightening of pin fasteners, no blocks to replace. * Road damage - Negligible - No metallic components to contact road. * Roadwheel life - Improved - Continuous running surface/non-metallic guides. * Low mass and inertia - Improved acceleration, improved braking. * IR/EM signature - Reduced. * Rolling Resistance - 17% - 35% less than T130 on hard surface. * Aggressiveness - Comparable to steel track; better in mud, snow, and ice. * Bullet-resistant.
Disadvantages of band track technology
There are currently some disadvantages relative to existing steel track, which United Defense/SII are working to mitigate. * Field installation is somewhat more difficult (currently, two soldiers can change a track in about an hour and one half). * Somewhat more susceptible to mine damage (mine resistance has not been yet incorporated into the design -this will occur over time). * There is a new repair limp-home kit that will require different procedures to employ.