Army's truck fleet aging fuel-guzzlers, study says

| 4/9/2003

Trucks and other vehicles the U.S. Army is using in Iraq for troop and equipment transport are aging gas-guzzlers, according to a study published by the National Academy of Sciences, AFP reports.

The study, conducted by the academy's National Research Council at the Pentagon's request, proposed use of more modern high-strength steels to reduce weight without reducing protection, as well as aluminum and magnesium alloys to replace steel altogether in some components.

The army, the study noted, currently has a fleet of 250,000 trucks, ranging from the light-duty Humvee that replaced the Jeep during the 1991 Gulf War to heavy-duty flatbed equipment transporters and tractor-trailer units, along with 110,000 trailers.

"High fuel consumption also takes a financial and logistical toll, and limits the Army's agility," said the report. "Fuel makes up 70 percent of the tonnage shipped to a battle zone, and one armored division alone consumes 600,000 gallons per day."

"Improved fuel efficiency could reduce not only the amount of fuel transported but also the numbers of personnel and equipment needed to do so," the report said.

The Army's truck fleet "is aging and becoming less effective over time," it went on.

"Many of these vehicles are kept in service for decades and left unsheltered between missions, increasing their maintenance costs and diminishing their performance.

"Ceramic and metal-matrix composites could reduce the weight of braking systems without sacrificing performance," the report said.