An Italian armored Super Truck: from TRAKKER to VTMM and Grizzly

(To Gianluca Celentano)
26/03/19

Compared to international production, how does the renowned Italian industry of defense vehicles respond? We are talking about those units that embrace the American concept of MRAP Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected and the answer would seem satisfactory even if, after the advent of the CNH Industrial holding company of 2012 and the acquisition of Astra by Iveco in the 86, it would be a bit blasphemous not to report, due to correctness of information, a certain discernible disharmony between the synergy of the groups.

After having put the characteristics of the younger brother, the VTLM, under the magnifying glass Lynx (v.articolo), we will consider one of the most successful and reliable means in the world and, perhaps, it will be curious for the readers to know that in the barracks it appears the purchase by the military administration, less absolutely criticized.

Multi-role Medium Tactical Vehicle - MMTV

An armored car that here nicely assumes the nickname of Bear, perhaps due to its reassuring size. The acronym from us becomes VTMM that is Medium Multi-role Tactical Vehicle, however it is not difficult to hear him called MPV, Multi Purpose Vehicle; the important thing is to understand each other on the fly after the prevailing of all these symbols / characteristics that identify the tactical and logistic means, today more specific than yesterday.

In Germany on the same technical basis and with the same operational functions is nicknamed "KMW Grizzly" 6x6 GGF 4, assembled by the local, Krauss Maffei Wegmann. A vehicle that is placed halfway between the KMW home protectors and is among the smallest mongoose e Dingo 2 HD 4x4 and the largest Boxer APC 8x8.

The VTMM is mainly created for logistic and military transport tasks, but one of the main functions assigned to the Iveco armored vehicle is precisely the RCP Route Clearence Package, or the five VTMMs able to find and neutralize the IED explosives placed on the road in extreme safety. It is part of the rigorous NATO homologation, with an 3 level of the STANAG 4569 (probably a B7) and, just to give you an idea, able to continue its work after blasts in the underbody of a dozen kilos of TNT. An operating means in use at the Genius and with different logistic conformations both as a remote command center, but also as a protected ambulance. About 60 are those in service in the Army of which 16 with ambulance equipment.

A vehicle that has aroused interest also in the USA and Libya, but it is Italy and Germany that are the main users and it is difficult to meet him on the streets given the mission of the MMTV. THE'Bear it stood out for its efficacy, versatility and security in the conflict in the Middle East, where its qualities were appreciated in the delicate tasks of logistic clearance but above all of remediation.

ASTRA and TRAKKER at the base of the structure?

I do not deny you, given the meager news, that I have tried to understand on what basis this interesting vehicle could be born and above all if there was a common platform, that is a reinforced and special frame attributable to some vehicle already in production, a guarantee of robustness and spare parts. Initially I had associated the structure with the German Unimog 6x6 truck of the Mercedes - chassis used on the Dingo HD - but after some comparison and research, despite some hypocritical silence, the answer would seem to have arrived.

The undisputed quality and technology of IVECO TRAKKER (photo), the truck with all-wheel drive for civil and military use, are reflected with appropriate modifications in the platforms of ACTL and VTMM, but also in the German twin KMW Grizzly which, however, uses instruments and components of clear Mercedes Benz origin.

A multi-purpose protected medium was needed

The reasons for adapting Italian tactical vehicles, which today differ from the memories of military service, we have already described in the LMV article Lynx. In fact, an intermediate vehicle was missing between the Lynx and the ACTLs or larger combat vehicles. A protected multi-purpose vehicle was needed between 18 and 25 Ptt, so with enough space to move different units of a team.

La Difesa commissioned Iveco Defense Vehicles and in 2008 in collaboration with Kraus Maffei Wegmann identified in Trakker the features to work on the MPN 4X4 and 6X6. The alternative would have been to rely on the international defense market, where authoritative brands - some have treated it - could have filled the need. But the emergency in the Middle East raged as well as the victims among our boys hit by the fire of a real war even if they placed themselves (told and told, ndd) as "peace missionaries". It would have been absurd to rely on an extra-European market, given the national capacities, in a moment of global imbalance inherent in too many unknowns and even more interests never confessed.

But let's look closely ...

Both the VTMM and the Grizzly, align with their security cell, the MRAP program, ceased in the 2012, which provided for surrounding soldiers from large steel structures, a concept that seems to have given way to a precise school of autonomous thought in the sector industries ( see the Lynx). The Italian version offers an interesting interior habitability of about 13 m³ that become 17 in the German 6X6 version at 3 axes and 16 m³ for the ambulance version. An interesting detail in the sanitary version is the hydraulic arm for raising and lowering the stretcher. BAE Systems, after the success of the 8x8 SuperAV, would have even collaborated with some amphibious MMTV, equipped with 2 hydrojet connected to the engine power take-off.

He can carry a team of eleven soldiers including the conductor, also hosting sophisticated equipment for the EW Electronic Warfare, a fundamental and avant-garde role played by the transmission weapon today.

The German three-axle, to increase maneuverability, has the third steering rear axle but to be more appreciated in his project, it was the Italian ingenuity to combine the merits and performance of the Trakker to anti IED qualities but with a similar versatility to the smaller VTLM Lynx. But there is more, in fact on the web the German KMW affirms the production of a GFF 4 Grizzly 8X8, therefore with four axes.

Why not a Trakker MRAP?

Many fans will have come across the web in exciting images of Iveco Trakker armored, a qualitatively complete truck also for civil use from quarry or construction site, and for reliability to Unimog or Caterpillar. The Trakker it is very popular on the world market and the French Armée de terre itself, the Ejército de Tierra spanish and the Deutsches Heer own several units.

However, the military version of the Trakker, represented by the Astra ACTL, derives from the civil version, which, although revised and armored, does not possess properly anti-IED characteristics. Its use is probably indicated for a rear logistics, for example the unloading / loading of wagons when there is a risk of fire by snipers or grenade launches.

Technology

The MMTV looks like a curmudgeon - in the jargon of drivers - that is, with an advanced engine compared to the Trakker, a solution that somehow recalls the automotive approach, but perhaps synonymous with greater stability even if the advanced engine solutions are a bit penalizing in maneuvering, in particular way for the limited armored glass surfaces; it is necessary to devote time to the operational familiarization with the guide.

The engine used on armored vehicles with two and three axles is a Cursor 9 six cylinders with 400 horses and 8.709 cm³, while for the transmission an automated gearbox is used - probably a Eurotronic - to 12 gears with three ranges of ratios - short medium to long - but different sources affirm instead the use of an automatic hydraulic 5 gearbox. In any case, in addition to the engine brake on the exhaust it is equipped with retarder. A central distributor and three differentials guarantee thanks to the ADM system - Automatic Drive-Train Management - all-wheel drive that can be locked both longitudinally and transversely.

Its masses are around 19 tons for the 2 axles and 25 for the three 3 axles, with a ballistic protection that would seem to be increased. In short, a PTT similar to that of a bus and I can guarantee that 400 horses on a touring coach really make the difference in the most insidious full-load climbs.

MMTV, or Grizzly, they are clearly very tall with a lower and uniform light in the underside equal to 43 cm and an overall height of just over three meters. The 2 axles measure 6,9 meters in length that become 7,4 for the six wheels, while its width is 2,53 meters. In short, a good compromise between power, performance, mass and dimensions, but like the Vtlm Lynx, its use involves the action and the rapid removal and not the fight, if anything the defense.

Interesting are the door openings (external inside) with hydraulic piston placed on the internal hinges and the possibility of opening the roof hatch also from the outside. To this we add rigorously tires run flat XML 14.00 R20 associated with the deflation device and the ability to move on heavy inclinations without problems even if provided with rear tandem, 4 leaf springs, blades and telescopic suspension. Appreciable crossing capabilities ford up to about two meters.

Thanks to its power take-offs and technical equipment, theBear it can also be used logistically as a current generator, and its entire electric line is isolated and watertight.

The guide

Very stable with some tendency to understeer, a bit like ACTL e Trakker, but always faithful to the trajectory by releasing the accelerator and this, thanks also to the promptness of the steering. Quick and agile with an appreciable kick down, the Eurotronic 12 gearbox solution is really right, which guarantees the ideal ratio according to the load, inclination, revs and gas pedal. It could even reach the 120 km / h given the power of the engines Cursor, but as it is suitable for a truck its limit is 80 km / h with an operating range, for example for overtaking, which allows to reach 90 km / h. The pneumo-hydraulic braking is exceptional thanks to the ABS multi-sensor and, both Bear that Grizzly, can be defined as worthy competitors of Cougar e Buffalo, present in 10 units in the Army.

The CAN bus system and base control

As on the New IVECO Stralis FP, tried for Online Defense (v.articolo), even the VTMM has a single line of electrical diagnosis of each component thanks to specific control units. The CAN is designed to operate without problems even in environments that are strongly disturbed by the presence of electromagnetic waves, but above all it speeds up maintenance operations and with this system everything is really and constantly under control, even a simple courtesy light or light on the dashboard.

Thanks to the continuous telematic dialogue between vehicle and control unit, each VTMM in service, transmits in real time all the technical information on its operating and maintenance conditions. A system that could take hold even in the civil automotive sector but perhaps someone will legitimately raise the doubt about one privacy who is going to be blessed?

Dedicated ...

to civilians and soldiers killed in the conflicts and to all the boys of the departments of the military engineering and to the friends of the 8 ° rgt parachutist sappers "Folgore".

Photo: CNH Industrial - Iveco Defense Vehicles / author / web