PITTSBURGH, Oct. 23 (UPI) -- A single-piece aluminum hull for ground combat vehicles that would improve blast protection is to be developed by Alcoa and the U.S. Army Research Laboratory.
"For decades, the Army has recognized the survivability benefits of a single-piece hull due to its thickness, size and shape for ground combat vehicles," said Dr. Ernest Chin of the Army Research Laboratory. "Our collaborative effort to develop continuous and seamless aluminum hull technology has the potential to be a game changer for how combat vehicles are designed and made to better protect our soldiers."
According to the announcement of its intent, Alcoa said a single-piece aluminum hull would eliminate welded seams used in today's manufacturing processes, which is expected to significantly improve protection; allow three-dimensional shaping in the forging process for tailoring the thickness where needed to maximize protection and allow for weight savings.
An aluminum hull would also lead to increased fuel efficiency by reducing vehicle weight.
"Alcoa has helped the U.S. military stay ahead of emerging threats by innovating durable, lightweight aluminum technologies since World War I," said Ray Kilmer, Alcoa executive vice president and chief technology officer. "Our experts are now developing the world's largest, high-strength aluminum hull for combat vehicles to better defend against IEDs, the greatest threat our troops face in Afghanistan, while meeting the Army's affordability needs."