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TPI Composites General Manager Kevin Weldi poses with the new Humvee  (Source: Associated Press)
New composite Humvees shed 900 pounds of weight

Humvees are synonymous with transporting troops on the ground during times of war. The ubiquitous workhorses are also pretty lacking when it comes to protection from enemy fire and improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

The U.S. Army in conjunction with AM General Corp. and TPI Composites Inc. are looking to composite materials to give its soldiers a better chance at surviving treacherous working conditions on Iraq.

Its latest test bed is a Humvee that features a frame and body made of composite materials. Resin material is used to bond together balsa wood, carbon reinforcements, fiberglass and foam. The use of composite materials on the Humvee shaves 900 pounds off the usual 10,000 to 12,000 pound vehicle weight.

"We can put the strength where we need it," said TPI Composites CEO Steven Lockard. "Every pound of weight we save, that weight is being added back to the vehicle in armor and mine-blast protection."

Additional armor could be placed under and around the cabin area of the Humvee to protect the passengers, while the composites materials alone could be used for the hood and fenders.

Predictably, the new composite-bodied Humvees are slightly more expensive than their conventional counterparts and the Army still hasn't made a firm commitment to purchasing the vehicles.

With that said, TPI Composites is fully prepared should the Army give the company the green light. "We could ramp up pretty quickly to most any volume that would be desired," said Lockard.

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Woo hoo!
By marsbound2024 on 9/21/2007 10:40:07 AM , Rating: 0
A new lightweight way of getting blown up by IEDs in Baghdad! Drive with confidence. Choose Hummer (now in plastic, too!).

RE: Woo hoo!
By TomZ on 9/21/2007 10:49:17 AM , Rating: 6
I don't think that's funny. People being killed isn't comedy.

RE: Woo hoo!
By marsbound2024 on 9/21/07, Rating: 0
RE: Woo hoo!
By CascadingDarkness on 9/21/2007 6:25:22 PM , Rating: 2
I don't get it. The only way any of your mockery makes sense is if your bashing the Humvee in general, meaning no matter how they improve the vechicle it will still be a death trap (which is a pretty big leap based on your short comments).

I for one cheer them trying to protect troops. Hopefully it won't be too costly as there seems to be a gray line cut off somewhere between cost, and protecting service peoples lives.

RE: Woo hoo!
By marsbound2024 on 9/22/2007 2:12:20 PM , Rating: 1
Ok so I'm not entirely sure how you people don't get it, but I'll walk you through it. The Humvee was not designed for urban warfare. It does this minimally well at best. However, with IEDs an everyday thing, I think the US Army really has not even made a serious attempt at protecting our troops from this relatively new, common-place threat. There certainly needed to be either a newly designed urban vehicle or a total overhaul of our current lightly-armored vehicles so that IEDs would not be so much of a problem.

Besides, it doesn't matter so much about cost. Seriously, this war has already cost us hundreds of billions of dollars, so I doubt a few more million will make a difference. But according to you, the cost is a bigger issue and thus the Humvee is all you would go for. Doesn't seem like you want to protect the troops in my opinion.

Of course the best scenario would be to pull out by Spring of 2008 whether the Iraqis were ready or not. Having a deadline would discourage IED attacks in my opinion because all we have to do is say "If IED attacks continue, then we will deem it necessary to stay as Iraq is not stable enough." Now of course there will still be some IEDs, but hopefully not as many. Also, having a deadline means that the Iraqis could get their butt in gear without having to depend on us so much.

So in conclusion, the Humvee is a wonderful vehicle, but not designed for urban scenarios. Either it needs a complete overhaul or a new vehicle is necessary in these situations. This is a step, but a bit disappointing to me, nonetheless. Composites are nice, but I feel that the Army is trying to take the cheap route. Not a good idea in my mind.

"We’re Apple. We don’t wear suits. We don’t even own suits." -- Apple CEO Steve Jobs
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