American aluminium producer Alcoa announced today that it has been awarded a contract with the United States Army to develop lightweight armor for its ground vehicles. The five-year “Ground Vehicle Light-Weighting” contract with the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) is estimated to be worth up to US$50 million.
“This agreement with TARDEC builds on Alcoa Defense’s decades-long partnership with the U.S. Army to advance military ground vehicles,” said President of Alcoa Defense Eric Roegner. “Alcoa’s lightweight solutions have improved troop protection while reducing vehicle weight and assembly time. We look forward to building on our successful track record to help develop the next generation combat vehicle.”
The first operation Alcoa has been tasked with under the contract is an initiative to make improvements upon its aluminium weld wire alloys. The alloys have already proven to make weld points stronger as well as reducing corrosion at those weld points.
In the future the Army is expected to send Alcoa projects involving lightweighting technologies like aluminum forming technology, fastening and joining, modeling and simulation, armor development, material development, material fabrication, energy conservation, and coating and corrosion technology.
This is not the first time Alcoa has partnered with the US Army to develop lightweighting technologies for its vehicles. Three years ago the firm allied with the Army to manufacture the largest single-piece forged aluminium hull ever made, which was the biggest closed-die forging in history. The hull represented a significant improvement over the original, offering greater protection from improvised explosive devices (IED’s). Eleven years ago Alcoa developed aluminium structures for ground combat and tactical vehicles under a contract with U.S. Army Tank-Automotive and Armaments Command (TACOM). The bodies produced by Alcoa in this partnership lowered overall vehicle weights by between thirty and fifty percent over the original bodies.