Soldiers depend on armored vehicles for mobility in combat situations. This past winter, a high impact, multi-month evaluation at U.S. Army Cold Regions Test Center helped ensure the Army’s Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle (AMPV) works even in the world’s coldest environments.The AMPV’s five variants—a general purpose vehicle, mission command vehicle, mortar carrier, and medical evacuation and medical treatment vehicles– have nearly 80% more interior volume than the M113, and significantly more power, survivability, and maneuverability. The cooling and electrical systems are also more robust to accommodate both existing and future upgrades. It boasts the same powertrain and suspension system as the Bradley Fighting Vehicle and M109A7 self-propelled howitzer, which eases maintenance and logistics challenges for all three vehicles in the field. Though the weather this past winter at CRTC didn’t reach the jaw-dropping temperatures of -60 degrees Fahrenheit or more below zero that are typical, the variation didn’t faze the testers.
“The Soldiers that participated were from a Stryker brigade. The AMPV is fairly similar to it, so we wanted to get their feedback. Their main focus was the ability to get patients into and out of the vehicle,” said Henry. “How slippery does the ramp get? Can you operate the medical equipment in the cold? They rode as patients in the vehicle and rated how they felt as the vehicle moved along,” said Hannah Henry, test coordinator.
“Extreme cold comes in windows, and it’s normally a scramble to try to get things into those windows. Normally when it is extremely cold, we prioritize cold starts. If it is extremely cold and we aren’t doing cold starts, I like to try to get a lot of durability miles in. Cross country is the slowest and takes the most time—the majority of our effort is getting those miles,” said Stephan Krueger, test officer.
The coldest times still saw the mercury plunge below -35 degrees Fahrenheit, and the crew had much to do. The AMPV accumulated hundreds of miles on CRTC’s punishing road courses, and undertook braking and acceleration tests at CRTC’s automotive test track. Further, the engine was subjected to cold starts in temperatures well below zero, oftentimes after having cold air blown on its engine from tubular fans to ensure a maximum of frigidness. The testers drove the vehicle for more than 1,000 miles across primary and secondary roads and cross-country trails. A portion of the test involved a Soldier touchpoint where active duty service members used the vehicle in the extreme cold. The touchpoint utilized the medical evacuation variant of the AMPV. The AMPV has undergone extensive testing at all three of U.S. Army Yuma Proving Ground’s natural environment test centers—Yuma Test Center outside Yuma, Ariz.; Cold Regions Test Center at Fort Greely, Alaska; and, most recently, at Tropic Regions Test Center in the jungle of Panama.
The Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle (AMPV) is a U.S. Army program to replace the M113 armored personnel carrier and family of vehicles. AMPV is a sub-project of the Next Generation Combat Vehicle program. In 2014, the U.S. Army selected BAE Systems’ proposal of a turretless variant of the Bradley Fighting Vehicle to replace over 2,800 M113s in service. As of 2022, five variants of the AMPV are planned: M1283 General Purpose (522 planned), M1284 Medical Evacuation Vehicle (790 planned), M1285 Medical Treatment Vehicle (216 planned), M1286 Mission Command (993 planned), and M1287 Mortar Carrier Vehicle (386 planned). As of 2015 the program was scheduled to deliver 2,897 vehicles at a total cost of $10.723 billion, or $3.7 million per vehicle. The first AMPV prototype was rolled out in December 2016, and the first production vehicles began rolling out in September 2020. There are to be five versions of the AMPV: XM1283 General Purpose GP (Replaces M113A3 APC), XM1284 Medical Evacuation Vehicle MEV (Replaces M113 AMEV), XM1285 Medical Treatment Vehicle MTV (Replaces M577A3 Medical Vehicle), XM1287 Mortar Carrier Vehicle MCV (Replaces M1064A3 Mortar Carrier) and XM1286 Mission Command MCmd (Replaces M1068A3 Command Post).Carrier.