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October 21, 2013
Alcoa, U.S. Army to Develop World’s Largest Single-Piece Aluminum Hull for Combat Vehicles to Improve Troop Protection
New Technology a Potential Game Changer for Strengthening Army’s Defense Against Improvised Explosive Devices
WASHINGTON & PITTSBURGH--Alcoa (NYSE: AA) and the U.S. Army Research Laboratory have launched a
cooperative effort to develop an aluminum solution to a grave threat to
soldier safety: Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). The solution, a
single-piece aluminum hull for ground combat vehicles, would replace
today’s assembled hulls and deliver even greater strength and
durability. In addition to safety benefits, the single-piece hull would
reduce vehicle weight and assembly time, and, therefore, overall cost.
"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."
Alcoa’s single-piece aluminum hull would improve combat vehicle
Improved blast protection: A single-piece hull would eliminate
welded seams used in today’s manufacturing processes, which is
expected to significantly improve protection. The single-piece hull
would cover the entire lower section of any combat vehicle.
Increased damage resistance: The use of more blast-absorbent
Alcoa alloys is expected to further increase damage resistance.
Efficient design: Forging hulls as one unit would facilitate
three-dimensional shaping, allowing Alcoa to tailor the thickness
where needed to maximize protection and allow for weight savings.
Cost savings: The structure is expected to reduce costs over
the life of the vehicle by increasing fuel efficiency through
lightweighting and eliminating assembly time and complexity.
“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.”
The Army Research Laboratory, in partnership with Alcoa Defense,
initiated the program after Alcoa modeled significant performance
advantages of the single-piece hull. Alcoa also brings proven advanced
materials expertise and experience forging the world’s largest aluminum
structures. This initiative is part of the Army’s Affordable Protection
from Objective Threats program, created to improve the military’s
defense against modern-day threats, such as IEDs, using affordable,
advanced manufacturing technologies. IEDs are a critical threat against
soldiers in combat zones.
Hull Development and the Alcoa Advantage
During the next 18 months, Alcoa Defense, the Army’s Research,
Development and Engineering Command (RDECOM) and the Defense Advanced
Research Projects Agency (DARPA) will coordinate research and
development efforts with scientists at the Alcoa Technical Center, the
world’s largest light metals R&D facility, to refine the hull design and
develop the alloy requirements. Alcoa Defense will then work with
engineers at Alcoa Forgings and Extrusions in Cleveland to produce 20-
by 7-foot demonstrator hulls to validate the performance benefits. These
hulls will be forged using Alcoa Cleveland’s 50,000-ton forging
press—one of two heavy closed die forging presses of this size in the
United States and a strategically important asset to the Nation’s
This latest project is only one of a portfolio of ways in which Alcoa
has supported the United States defense effort with innovations across
air, land and sea platforms. The following are a few examples:
Applying its commercial aerospace expertise, Alcoa has helped the Air
Force extend the life of its fleet, including aircraft developed more
than 50 years ago. Alcoa developed previously unavailable replacement
parts using new alloys that have increased fleet damage tolerance and
corrosion resistance at an affordable price, helping the Air Force
improve its fleet while avoiding approximately $100 million in costs
to purchase new aircraft.
Alcoa developed a lighter, lower-cost, single-piece forging for the
Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) bulkhead, enabling the JSF to meet exacting
government weight targets and improve affordability.
In addition, Alcoa has provided a number of innovative technologies
and materials to improve the performance of Army vehicles, such as the
Heavy Equipment Transport and Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck,
providing increased soldier protection while making the vehicles more
lightweight, energy efficient and durable.
For information on Alcoa’s innovations, please visit: http://www.alcoa.com/
innovation For information on Alcoa Defense, please visit: http://www.alcoa.com/defense
Editor’s Note: Caption for accompanying photo: Alcoa and the U.S.
Army Research Laboratory have launched a cooperative effort to develop
the world’s largest single-piece aluminum hull for ground combat
vehicles, shown here, to improve the military’s defense against a grave
threat to soldier safety: Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).
Alcoa is the world’s leading producer of primary and fabricated
aluminum, as well as the world’s largest miner of bauxite and refiner of
alumina. In addition to inventing the modern-day aluminum industry,
Alcoa innovation has been behind major milestones in the aerospace,
automotive, packaging, building and construction, commercial
transportation, consumer electronics and industrial markets over the
past 125 years. Among the solutions Alcoa markets are flat-rolled
products, hard alloy extrusions, and forgings, as well as Alcoa® wheels,
fastening systems, precision and investment castings, and building
systems in addition to its expertise in other light metals such as
titanium and nickel-based super alloys. Sustainability is an integral
part of Alcoa’s operating practices and the product design and
engineering it provides to customers. Alcoa has been a member of the Dow
Jones Sustainability Index for 12 consecutive years and approximately 75
percent of all of the aluminum ever produced since 1888 is still in
active use today. Alcoa employs approximately 61,000 people in 30
countries across the world. For more information, visit www.alcoa.com
and follow @Alcoa on Twitter at twitter.com/Alcoa and follow Alcoa on
Facebook at www.facebook.com/Alcoa.
About the United States Army Research Laboratory
The U.S. Army Research Laboratory is part of the U.S. Army Research,
Development and Engineering Command (RDECOM), which has the mission to
develop technology and engineering solutions for America's Soldiers.
RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command.
AMC is the Army's premier provider of materiel readiness -- technology,
acquisition support, materiel development, logistics power projection,
and sustainment -- to the total force, across the spectrum of joint
military operations. If a Soldier shoots it, drives it, flies it, wears
it, eats it or communicates with it, AMC delivers it. For more
information, visit www.arl.army.mil,
follow @ArmyResearchLab on Twitter and follow the lab on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ArmyResearchLaboratory.
Alcoa and the U.S. Army Research Laboratory have launched a cooperative effort to develop the world's largest single-piece aluminum hull for ground combat vehicles, shown here, to improve the military's defense against a grave threat to soldier safety: Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).
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