When AM General rolled out the Hummer line based on the military HMMWV, there was a childlike squeal from grown men. The idea of owning a car that looked like it once had gun turrets was a huge draw. Even the Terminator turned governor Arnold Schwarzenegger had an one. But the play toys that we get as non-military consumers are nothing compared to the real thing. Playing soldier and being one are two very different things.
Don’t tell anyone, but Hummers are not bulletproof. This really is not a secret since the AM General comparison sheet shows this as one of three substantive differences between the Hummer and the HMMWV. The HMMWV comes with ballistic protection and chemical resistant coating. Even if the Hummer does not come with these features, it is fun to pretend. Knowing that both vehicles can climb a 60 percent grade and go over a 22-inch step makes the fantasy complete even if you are stuck in city traffic.
Watch a child play with a toy tank and you will see all of the key components of tank awesomeness. The kid will run it through a wall of blocks to crush the enemy under the tracks. Traction is one of the most important parts of military vehicle power. Combining skid resistance with heavy weight is what makes them unstoppable. Anti-skid technology has become important as we look at military threats in cold weather terrains. The same technology that is used in Afghanistan is not right for snow and ice. The research around militarized anti-skid equipment is focused on directly linking the drive cylinder to the tire mounts so that the vehicle gets the maximum amount of grip.
Stealth technology has made some huge leaps in the last couple of years. Where once the military wanted equipment to be invisible to radar and sonar, it looks like we will have vehicles that are unseen by the human eye. Canada seems to be pushing the boundaries of quantum stealth technology, which means that the heavy military cars of the near future will have light bend around them, rendering them effectively invisible to soldiers.
All Terrain, Really
Motorcycles are known for their maneuverability and speed but not necessarily their silence. Looking at modern motorcycle exhaust and mufflers, noise reduction is the key issue. For commercial motorcycles, looks are also a consideration. Military vehicles need to be quiet and have power. The newest military endeavor is a hybrid motorcycle that can use electricity to move silently. The motorcycle is a sleek, light-weight machine that looks more like a dirt bike than a hog. The bike will be stealthy when in electric mode and very fast in fuel mode. With hybrid cars all the rage for commercial use, we can expect to see this military application being duplicated for non-military sales.