Future Soldier Technology 2021: HIPPO Hybrid Amphibious Wheeled Carrier10 March 2021
Defence agencies are searching for best practices in unmanned ground system capabilities and how to best utilise hybrid technology.
Defence agencies are searching for best practices in unmanned ground system capabilities and how to best utilise hybrid technology. But there is still a lot to be discovered in terms of how it is to be deployed and how it can be best utilised in the field. This week at Future Soldier Technology 2021, the allies come together to discuss requirements for dismounted soldier tactics, and how to give the future warfighter a tactical edge, especially in a generation where technology such as robotics and hybrid technology is providing an advantage for ground forces. Step forward HIPPO Multipower.
DSSI speaks with Rob O’Connor, International Business Development at HIPPO Multipower, a company traditionally specialising in mobile power applications for rugged industries, including military. Now, the company has produced and launched an air-portable, hybrid & amphibious vehicle, designed with the dismounted soldier in mind. With an onboard powerpack providing power on the go for soldier digital devices, the vehicle also offers 750kg of payload to a crewed station, and 1000kg unmanned; there are also plenty of traits which provide a low acoustic and thermal signature and maximised all-terrain capabilities.
Can you talk us through a little bit about the design of HIPPO, Hybrid Amphibious Wheeled Carrier (HAWC)?
For the past 4 years HIPPO has been developing a family of amphibious all terrain vehicles, designed to support dismounted operations. Our focus has always been to reduce the burden on the soldier/marine/airman/operator in order to allow them to deliver tactical overmatch. As a result the HAWC has been designed with 4 key characteristics:
- Payload. The HAWC can carry 750 kg when operating with a crew or 1000 kg when unmanned; enough to sustain a rifle platoon or to keep a mortar section supplied with ammunition.
- Mobility. The HAWC needs to go where the dismounted soldiers go. It has been designed to be air portable but also to have the terrain accessibility to allow it to operate in jungles, forests, mountains, deserts and towns.
- Exportable power. Dismounted soldiers have an ever increasing load of battery hungry kit; radios, target markers, electronic counter measures, etc. With 5kW of exportable electrical power the HAWC allows a rifle platoon to be self-sufficient for batteries. It also means that HAWC can power remote weapon stations, surveillance equipment, engineering tools, etc.
- Optional robotics. The HAWC can be fitted with an autonomy suite allowing it to be operated as a UGV. This can help to minimise exposure to hostile fire – an unmanned HAWC can conduct ammunition resupply or casualty evacuation in contact without a driver being exposed to fire.
One of the things we have seen in recent years is the acceleration of hybrid technologies, with the dismounted soldier relying on powered equipment for their mission, how does hybrid affect the operations of tactical vehicles for the future warfighter?
The hybrid drive gives HAWC a number of advantages. First, electric motors provide instantaneous torque, which gives the HAWC its outstanding terrain accessibility. However, the biggest advantage of the electric drive is stealth. When operating on battery power alone, the HAWC has a very low acoustic and thermal signature. For long static periods the HAWC can use the electric drive batteries to trickle charge the exportable power batteries enabling extremely long periods of silent watch. The HAWC is fitted with an integrated diesel engine which delivers endurance and range; with a full tank the HAWC has a range of over 300 km.
Could you explain a little bit about the role of HIPPO to support special forces, particularly in a near peer environment?
The payload, mobility, exportable power and stealth of the HAWC make it a useful addition to the inventory of light vehicles at the disposal of special forces. Special Forces also make use of a variety of Utility Task Vehicles (UTV). HIPPO has developed a 5 kW generator which can be installed below the cargo deck of an in service UTV without compromising the vehicle’s payload but provide a special forces team with 5 kW of power for radios, target markers, jammers, etc. The installation takes less than a day and can be conducted at unit level.
What other power generation products do HIPPO provide to support dismounted troops?
HIPPO’s background is in multipower generation. HIPPO supplies the US Army Engineers with the HIPPO 2032/42 Complete Power Solution (CPS). This single unit delivers electrical, welding, pneumatic and hydraulic tool circuits for use in construction, demolition and equipment support tasks. There is also a dive kit to provide engineer divers with the power tools that they need. The CPS can be ground or vehicle mounted. HIPPO have also produced a self propelled version or it could be integrated into a vehicle using the vehicle’s own power take off (PTO) rather than an internal diesel.