The NYT reports that, having fallen out of favor in the Afghanistan campaign for its vulnerability to roadside bombs, the HMMWV is making a comeback. The Humvee was being replaced by mine-resistant armored personnel carriers called MRAPs,
But recent blast tests show that Humvees built with the new chimney could provide as much protection as some of the heavier, and more costly, mine-resistant vehicles that have replaced them in many uses.
And if the final tests go well, the invention could save billions in new vehicle costs and restore much of the maneuverability that the Army and the Marines have lacked in the rugged terrain in Afghanistan, military officials say. Engineers say the chimney, which rises through the passenger cabin, releases some of the explosive gases — traveling at twice the speed of a fighter jet — that have mangled and flipped many of the vehicles.
Pentagon officials have said little about the 11 blast tests so far, in which the prototype vehicles are engulfed by a cloud of smoke, dust and fire, but the passenger cabin remains intact.
It turns out that adding armor hurts the maneuverability that makes the HMMWV so prized, and is less effective than the new chimneys which deflect blast forces around and away from the passenger compartment. The military will conduct five more blast tests and could request bids for the new generation of HMMWVs sometime this fall.