Revamped Humvee with chimney catches military's eye
By Published: July 23, 2011
Humvees built with a new chimney-like device is showing promise in blast tests aiming to make the vehicles safer against roadside bombs, according to a story in The New York Times.
If tests continue to go well, the invention could save billions in new vehicle costs, the Times says. It could also restore much of the maneuverability that soldiers and Marines have lacked in the rugged Afghanistan countryside, the report says.
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, the Times says.
So far, 11 blast tests have been conducted, in which the prototype vehicles are engulfed by a cloud of smoke, dust and fire, but the passenger cabin remains intact, the report says.
The chimney was designed by a small Maryland firm, Hardwire L.L.C., which is working with AM General, an Indiana company that has built 270,000 Humvees since the mid-1980s, according to the Times.
George Tunis, chief executive of AM General, compared the chimney to an exhaust vent on a rocket. He said that rather than just piling on more armor to absorb the blasts, as has been typical in the past, the idea was to disperse as much of the explosive energy as possible, the Times says.
Tunis said that a meeting with Marine Staff Sgt. Octavio Sanchez inspired him to work on the vehicle’s safety. Sanchez lost a hand and was badly burned when his Humvee blew up in Iraq in 2005.
Read more about the new Humvee chimney in The New York Times.