Modeling & Simulation, Testing & Validation (MSTV)


by Scott Hodges; Donald Ostberg


Since the development of combat vehicles for military use, such as tanks, infantry carriers, gun transports, etc. the main approach has been a monolithic structure that has been described as monocoque. This approach has been the standard-bearer since the inception of modern combat vehicles. Since the end of the Cold War, the world has become a much more “Multi-Polar” world. The U.S. is not locked in a static, monotonic engagement against the Soviet Union and its allies. The nature of the threat has changed. The U.S. Army is looking to make its Combat Vehicle fleet lighter and more adaptable to new technology and changing environments. By doing so the U.S. will be better able to project forces where they are needed. Lighter weight means more flexibility in transportation of equipment to various locations. In addition, the U.S. Army will be better able to deploy forces that have the latest and/or the most desirable protection required for the specific engagement they may encounter. The U.S. Army would like to investigate the uses of a space frame, if and where appropriate on their combat vehicle systems. This would be a definite paradigm shift in the development of combat vehicle systems. This article talks about the misconception that space frames are a “parasitic weight” to the system. The belief is that a monocoque approach is efficient because the material thickness is driven by survivability requirements and not structural requirements. It is said that once you meet the survivability requirement you will have enough structure. Therefore, adding a space frame structure is just adding weight. This article looks to dispel this belief. Over the last fifteen years, the Army has done several programs that have been able to shed more light on this issue. While it is true in some cases that a space frame would not be efficient, and therefore be adding weight. It is not always true. This article shows the studies and development programs that drive that conclusion. Space frames offer a potential to reduce weight and increase modular flexibility. By taking a look at studies and developments that, have been done over the last fifteen years we hope to begin the dispelling of the “parasitic” weight myth, and to be able to engage in a more in-depth look at exactly how to use monocoque and space frame structures in a judicious way to make our future vehicles better.