Iveco Lince VTLM: what has not been said

(To Gianluca Celentano)

A state-of-the-art engineering project, militarily appreciated by 12 States in the world, Iveco LINCE VTLM - Multidole Lightweight Tactical Vehicle - stands in its own right as the largest rotated armored vehicles, such as the Freccia VBM 8X8. However it will be interesting to know some unprecedented background on the history of the Light Multirole Italian Vehicle, a means guessed for the defense market, even if initially chatted, able, thanks to its structure, to gravitate around this special machine three substantial elements for a light and armored multirole: safety, speed and extreme versatility.

We discover the cards: the idea of ​​security comes from Israel

In '99 our Army is the third NATO force, together with the United States and the United Kingdom, to be used in conflicts in the Middle East where the outdated features of the Multitasking VM90P - poorly protected in the underbody, sheet metal and glass - no longer guaranteed due to security in this dramatic operational scenario. The VTLM Lince contract arrives at Iveco in the '99, but faces operational needs already promptly claimed by the FFAA two years earlier.

It was quickly outlining a new operational framework, perhaps a real unknown factor for the Italian military organization, which had to understand in the face of subsequent economic choices, to what extent to be involved in the scenarios called peace missions. It is presumed that the military motorization, almost unchanged from the 45, had some legitimate doubts about the numbers and specialized conformations necessary for the new vehicles; in short, an unclear international socio-political scenario that has overcome the native abilities is not helpful.

Many soldiers wanted to say theirs about the Lince, but observing the rigorous motto of the Arma "Obbedir tacendo" they limited themselves to some anonymous outburst on the news pages. In this regard it is good to highlight the importance of subsequent and necessary makeover occurred after the 2003.

Iveco, according to rumors, was initially embarrassed by the tight deadlines that the General Staff of Defense imposed on the production of a new vehicle that is hardly amenable to structures already used in the civil production of the company (!); but there is more, in fact, the poor operation of the VBL Puma (photo) - whose production and spending was not stopped - was certainly not a guarantee for the military.

It would seem that there were other countries ready to produce a LMV, including Israel, but it was decided that it was Italy that would make it happen. It is probable that a trip to the Iveco staff of Bolzano took place in Israel, after all it was the Israeli military who highlighted the importance of the concept of security cell, a fundamental detail for an ambitious light multirole armored car of the new century that responded to the MRAP platform Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected; a reality already known and tested by the IDF (Israel Defense Forces), users among other things of different units of the Hummer H1 American from which the Lince takes some obvious cue.

At the base of the project there was a need of the EMS (1997!) Which specified precise parameters by requiring the manufacturer to insert a safety cell able to reduce the number of "g" absorbed by the military under attack.

Shock waves, ge forces F1, its secrets

To associate a vehicle with the appearance of a SUV quality of strong mobility, sturdiness, speed and safety, carrying forward the design mission of "a vehicle built around the mine", as ing Gianfranco Mazzer of IDV, father of the project Lynx, it was not as simple as you will have understood, especially if we consider the forces that are generated and transferred during the explosions with velocities higher than that of the sound. The answer seems to have come by observing the tests of the composite cages used in Formula one to protect the pilot.

Meanwhile, while waiting for the Lynx, the Army gradually withdrew from the operating area the VM90P (photo, Iraq) while, on the Afghan camp, the guerrillas began to use innumerable and powerful IEDs, in addition to posting snipers.

The General Staff of Defense, to ensure the safety of its military, increased the use of CENTAURO 8X8 also for substandard tasks and reconnaissance. Some patrols were carried out with MRAP means of the NATO coalition.

The VTLM housing module, in addition to the armor, is insulated and impenetrable by other potentially dangerous elements during explosions or accidents, such as engine, batteries, gearbox, gearbox / divider and differential. The omega frame structure of the Lince - lower central part - provides for the division of the masses in front and back, and the reference to the system transaxle of Alfa Romeo is perceptible even if on the Lince the masses are bound to the frame. In fact, in the underbody there is only the presence of the transmission shaft and exhaust pipe that follow a specific inclination to avoid perforations of the cell. The English on the Panther CLV (variant of the Lynx for the British Army) call the cell "citadel". A winning idea also adopted by H1, but it must be considered that any object inside or outside the armored structure can become a lethal projectile.

To understand the concept, I met with the readers of Difesa Online a well-known face of science: Professor Nicola Ludwig, professor and physics researcher at the University of Milan; with simple words and a sympathy that captures, the professor, with an example, explains to me that a fist generates from 20 to 50 and that a stressed body - from an accident / from a shock wave - undergoes a multiplicative effect of its mass.

It is important to consider even the unattended and uninsured objects inside the Lynx cell during its operational use: a helmet, a bottle of water, a magazine, a weapon, but also the same occupants not attached to the specials belts. These, in fact, would undergo an acceleration that would increase their kinetic energy in a few tenths of a second with a multiplicative effect of the square of the speed reached.

In this regard we will remember the incident of '77 on the Silverstone circuit, where the F1 pilot David Purley, due to the blocking of the accelerator, suffered the most violent deceleration in the history of racing (photo). The pilot's body passed in only 66 centimeters - during the crash - from 178 to 0 km / h, undergoing a force equal to 179,8 g, but fortunately Purley was only injured.

It may be more explicable to think that a body of 65 kg of weight traveling at 80 km / h, during a collision on a rigid barrier, acquires a force superior to 3 tons.

The internal structure

The importance of the Lynx housing cell is appreciated by understanding that the 100 or more g are only the final result of devastating supersonic shockwaves and, moreover, incandescent, able to overturn, deform and ignite the vehicle.

The concept foresees that the 5 seats of the VTLM are not fixed as usual to the body, but anchored laterally and posteriorly, leaving an empty hollow space. The use of the cavities in the large cockpit of the Lynx is a strategic detail that we find in the gap of the roof and in the underbody, purposely flared to divert and attenuate the pressure of the shock wave. Even the automatic gearbox has a perfectly cylindrical shape, probably designed for the same reason. Solutions that reduce the resistance and drastically the g forces on the military, also avoiding the breaking of the spine or damage to the internal organs during violent stress.

The masses, transmission engine and differentials, are positioned on the centerline of the vehicle and the same disc brakes located at the exit of the 4 axle shafts, a concept that reduces the suspended masses already known in Alfa Romeo to favor performance. The fuel tank that is especially far from the cell can free itself.

The average thicknesses of the ballistic steel used at strategic points also reach the 120 mm; the doors, the "lighter" part, are instead integrated with plates made of composite ceramic honeycomb material, able to break the tip of the ogive, slowing down the kinetic force of projectiles or rockets. Inside the structure, a double cage is added with longitudinal and transverse supports - similar to that used in rally cars - and for access to the vehicle, also for testing, it is advisable to use the helmet as well as the belts.

You do not drive like an SUV

The rapid introduction into service was simultaneous with the baptism of fire for the Lince VTLM. A condition that probably did not allow the tenants to become familiar with his / her street behavior all terrain, and in many cases the driving style used was of the automotive type rather than specialized. The same guide of a tank truck, for example, changes in relation to the presence or absence of the transported liquid. Investments, exercise and training are fundamental and selective aspects that are valid for everyone, even for F1 pilots.

Comments "Half-Still Half-Dead" ... the VTLM 2 the optimum

To wonder why a late Italian organization on the updating of tactical and logistical means were in many between the military and civilians. Just look at the dilemma related to the alienations of the Fiat AR76, replaced for a while by the VM90 for lack of a valid Italian 4XXUMUMX, until the entry of the much criticized AR4 Land Rover. On the other hand, after the fall of the Berlin Wall, everything happened quickly, in a European framework where diplomacy and some "signorsì" of too much have probably influenced our organization.

It seems right to bring back the opinions that gravitated Online around the first series of the Lince, as well as some testimonies appeared in the press. In this regard, some military states: "The speaker is isolated". This is essentially what emerges when proposals are made on the quality of an operative work serving, among other things, the community.

Then someone says that it is better to have an "imperfect medium" but to save lives, rather than so much technology that can backfire. A concept that is fully part of the motto of the carristi friends.

The perplexities would concern a rather hasty introduction (and perhaps we have understood why) of a medium with underperformed performance compared to speed. Under the lens the criticized aspects were also others, such as the suffering braking system of fading, the suspension too soft and the attached risk of overturning, but also the weight of the doors that requires the exit from the turret in case of rollover on the side.

"San Lince" the VTLM 2

With feline qualities of great climber, the VTLM is an operationally widespread vehicle that has saved numerous lives, like Oshkosh L-ATV and Mercedes G Wagon.

"San Lince" is the nice nickname that circulates in the operational departments. Always built by hand and powered by the Iveco Daily F1C engine from 3.0, its 185 horses have switched to 220 and the automatic transmission from six to eight speeds (as with the Mercedes G Wagon), improving the torque output and the 'elasticity and readiness of his range.

The slowdown is also appreciable by climbing two more gears. Its mass passes to eight tons, and suspensions and set-up have been necessarily revised, introducing traction and stability control systems; The VTLM 2 can work at full capacity even with insidious desert temperatures, proving to be more comfortable and always customizable; it can be equipped with fire response systems or complex software for transmission, motion detection, radar and radio noise as well as IR night vision.

Special thanks to Professor Nicola Ludwig, professor and researcher of Physics at the University of Milan, author of numerous articles, books and initiatives, such as the "Theater and Science Festival for schools" as well as known by Sky Discovery audience Channel for the TV show "How football is done".