The Humvee Is Back!

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer

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 MRAP s,

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.

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  • Ihatetrees Ihatetrees on Jul 23, 2011

    The original Humvee wasn't designed to survive any sort of blast. It was (relatively) light and mobile, especially good at climbing and getting through loose sand, as I recall from my Ft Hood and Gulf War 1 daze. The up-armored versions are fine - but the original chassis wasn't designed for armored weight. And there was no foil hat grade conspiracy to keep armor away from troops. This light, mobile vehicle just wasn't made for policing an insurgency armed with IEDs.

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    • Threeer Threeer on Jul 23, 2011

      @sushytom sigh..for those of us that have been overseas and have had to put our lives in the trust of these, I'm glad your biggest concern is your drive to the mall. very, very true. I work on uparmored variants of these that carry anti-mortar equipement...the chasis just isn't set for the type of weight the extra armor places on them. They weren't meant to be tanks, but replacements for the old jeep. In that role, they were stellar. But the 1st gen MRAPSm though beautifully effective, proved cumbersome and unwieldy. While the next-gen MRAPs are much more maneuverable, I can imagine that the guys outside the wire would appreciate the added agility of a HMMWV, as long as it could withstand more punishment. And if it costs less than the MRAPs, more the better.

  • Gettysburg Gettysburg on Jul 24, 2011

    I don't understand why details like this get published. Now the enemy can start figuring out how to circumvent this defensive capability, long before the the first vehicle ever hits the ground Afganistan or Iraq. Why not build and test this in secret. After that deploy it and let the enemy blindly try to figure out why IED's aren't effective.

  • Art  Vandelay Art Vandelay on Jul 24, 2011

    This design would be ineffective in any of the blasts I encountered. Protection against the blast itself is only part of the equation. Every time I was hit it was by a type of IED known as an EFP or explosively formed Projectile or Penetrator. This type of IED functions like a HEAT round in that the energy of the explosion is used to throw a molten projectile at you. We have armor that reduces the effectiveness of this type of IED, but it is pretty heavy for a HMMWV. From what I understand this type of IED is not as widely used in Afghanistan as it was in Iraq, however as the drawdown continues I am sure they will become more prevalent over there. So unless they up the power to carry this sort of armor, I am not impressed. As a Combat Engineer doing route clearance I wouldn't touch a HMMWV except for running errands on the FOB.

  • Lynn Ellsworth Lynn Ellsworth on Jul 24, 2011

    So many thoughts about this. My first thought was what a wonderful simple idea which I hope saves many soldiers lives. After reading the above comments my second thought was I hadn't realized what a panty waist the original Hummer was. My third thought was that even as a panty waist the Hummer saved many soldiers' lives because it replaced the badly designed 1/4 ton (Jeep) which fell over easily. My final thought was this is just part of the history of warfare. One side comes up with an advantage and the other side overcomes that advantage.

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    • SPPPP SPPPP on Jul 25, 2011

      @M 1 Also, the survival of the vehicle is not the main idea. It's the survival of the troops inside that counts. And if they are injured and taken out of the fight for weeks or months, then "the terrorists win." I believe that a large number of injuries suffered from IEDs are related to being tossed around. So a very strong, rigid vehicle might survive, but may not really accomplish the goal, which is to protect the squishy folks inside.