DPSG USA provides robust, lightweight and long-lasting tow bars for military vehicles. Ken Fincher, company president, discusses the evolution of safety standards, cutting costs while elevating quality and why his products can reduce injuries, protect vehicles and save lives.

Please could you tell us about DPSG USA’s Wunderbar™ and Battlebar™ products?

Ken Fincher: DPSG USA’s Wunderbar™/US Army articulating tow bars (ATBs) and Battlebar™ tow bars are NATO STANAG-compliant for interchangeability between all vehicles of NATO and US forces. They are light, strong, safe, fast and intuitive to use, and require only one or two people to use them.

They mount under the hood level, out of the driver’s viewing area, and provide articulation stowage for easy stow-and-go. Wunderbar™ ATBs can be folded to sit flush on the front, back or sides of a vehicle while Battlebar™ tow bars can be deployed between two functioning vehicles, using their combined tractive effort to traverse terrain usually reserved for tracked vehicles.

Could you talk us through the MIL-STDs governing new tow bars? How have safety requirements changed in terms of working load limits (WLLs)?

DPSG USA’s tow bars help the US Army set new standards for strength, safety, convenience and readiness. Our tow
bars fit all US and NATO vehicles with a 2:1 safety factor. This standardisation increases US and NATO interoperability readiness and effectiveness for shipping and moving tactical land vehicles quickly and safely, not just for towing disabled vehicles. For example, on a vehicle weighing 65,000lb, a tow bar capacity of two times that weight at 130,000lb is required. That means the tow bar has a WLL of 65,000lb, or half the capacity, where the tow bar could break.

Wunderbar™ ATBs are twice the capacity at half the weight of conventional tow bars and hook up off road just as easily as on road. Conventional US Army tow bars approved in the US Army ‘Tow Bar Smart Book’ are relegated to speeds of 15km/h off road and 25km/h on road. In war zone conditions, it’s often necessary to exceed these speeds, especially if under fire or in fast-moving convoys, where highway speeds are needed. Wunderbar ATBs can be used at normal highway speeds on road and at higher speeds off road due to the tow bars’ immense strength. Full-speed vehicle towing is an option at the commander’s discretion.

In what real-world missions have your tow bars been tested?

Our Wunderbar™ ATBs have excelled in their performance in Afghanistan and Iraq, where they have notably saved vehicles and lives due to their rapid deployment speeds, as well as in other regions. Reports from training missions in the Middle East, Canada and Europe have all proved the tow bars to be more reliable and durable than conventional tow bars.

How do your products save customers costs while maintaining quality?

The logistics of moving vehicles when not powered or fuelled requires a cadre of people. The safety, speed and utility of the Wunderbar™ ATBs allow quick movement of assets using a third of the people, 50 times faster than a conventional tow bar, saving money and safeguarding against injuries. For example, a MATV with a mounted Wunderbar™ ATB can be moved by two people using a like-vehicle in a couple of minutes without the use of tools.

Our tow bars last the lifetime of the vehicle, which is an average 20-year life cycle. If damaged, only the specific segment requires replacement instead of the entire tow bar. Additionally, if you are trained to use one Wunderbar™ ATB or Battlebar™ tow bar, you are trained for all of them.

Wunderbar™ and Battlebar™ tow bars are lighter and safer to use, reducing injuries and medical costs. When using our tow bars, no one goes into the active ‘crush zone’, which is the area between the vehicles when the recovery vehicle manoeuvres into position to tow a disabled vehicle. Only when the recovery vehicle is in park should one step into the crush zone to hook the tow bar up.

Currently, using conventional tow bars requires operators to hold the tow bar in place in the crush zone while the towing vehicle is in motion. Wunderbar™ ATBs typically have a 6-9ft hook-up zone compared with an inch or so for conventional hook-up zones. The traditional effort risks life and limb. We have erased this classic liability in towing to protect the user.

What developments can we expect to see from DPSG USA in the future?

We are developing mount kits for any vehicle, no-stretch safety tow straps and specialised safety equipment to continue to put our soldiers first. We will never compromise our engineering or use inferior materials.