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Adaptive Hull Structure



TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Ground/Sea Vehicles

ACQUISITION PROGRAM: PM, Advanced Amphibious Assault

OBJECTIVE: The objective is the development of an innovative simple method of deployable/retractable hull modification allowing higher water speed movement of an amphibious vehicle.

DESCRIPTION: With the cancelation of the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle (EFV) program there still exists within the Marine Corps the need for a high water speed amphibious vehicle. For a vehicle to travel at higher speeds in the water it must be capable of planing or use some other method to reduce drag on the vehicle structure (example hydrofoil). Hydrodynamic drag from the vehicle shape is the major cause driving the size of the engine powering the vehicle and fuel consumption while waterborne. Current state of the art of a hard adaptive hull structure for an amphibious vehicle was developed for use on the EFV program. When deployed, the adaptive hull structure allowed the EFV (a vehicle of dimensions 30 ft. long, 12 ft. wide, 10.5 ft. high and weight 80,000 lb.) to attain a water speed of 25 knot. The system consisted of a retractable suspension, deployable bow and transom extension and chines. This system increased the flat plate planing surface allowing the vehicle to attain high water speed movement. Although functional, it employed a complex high pressure hydraulic system for deployment and retraction of the suspension which resulted in one of the most costly systems on the vehicle. One other available state of the art system capable of supporting an amphibious vehicle is pontoons. These devices are used on a variety of vehicles and take the form of fixed or inflatable devices. Currently deployable pontoons are used on the Korean K21 IFV. The pontoons are stowed in the skirt on either side of the vehicle and inflated when amphibious operations are required. After water operations the pontoons are deflated and retracted into the skirt. Although suitable for low speed movement in their current configuration they are not suited for higher speed water mobility.

Other state of the art technology includes semi rigid structures which utilize a fixed or inflatable planning hull that does not interfere with water jet performance and may allow leaving the tracks/wheels in-place thus reducing overall vehicle complexity/cost. By utilizing one or some combination of the available technologies a suitable adaptive hull structure for supporting a vehicle of dimensions 30 ft. long, 12 ft. wide, 10.5 ft. high and weight 80,000 lb. is sought.

PHASE I: The small business will develop concepts for an adaptive hull structure that meets the requirements described above. The small business will demonstrate the feasibility of the concepts in meeting Marine Corps needs and will establish that the concepts can be developed into a useful product for the Marine Corps. Feasibility will be established by material testing and analytical modeling, as appropriate. The small business will provide a Phase II development plan with performance goals and key technical milestones, and that will address technical risk reduction.

PHASE II: Based on the results of Phase I and the Phase II development plan, the small business will develop a scaled adaptive hull structure prototype for evaluation. The prototype will be evaluated to determine its capability in meeting the performance goals defined in the Phase II development plan and the Marine Corps requirements for the adaptive hull structure. System performance will be demonstrated through prototype evaluation, modeling and simulation and analysis over the required range of parameters throughout the deployment cycle. Evaluation results will be used to refine the prototype into an initial design that will meet Marine Corps requirements. The small business will prepare a Phase III development plan to transition the technology to Marine Corps use.

PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: If Phase II is successful, the company will be expected to support the Marine Corps in transitioning the technology for Marine Corps use. The company will manufacture a full scale adaptive hull structure for evaluation to determine its effectiveness in an operationally relevant environment. The company will support the Marine Corps for test and validation to certify and qualify the system for Marine Corps use. Private Sector Commercial Potential: The potential for commercial application of an adaptive hull structure has many potential uses. Possible avenues for employment are fire rescue and law enforcement vehicles, recreational vehicles (personal amphibious water craft) and wild life management vehicles to name a few.


  • Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle (EFV) – Specification.
  • K-21 Infantry Fighting Vehicle.
  • Zodiac.
  • Rigid-hulled inflatable boat.

KEYWORDS: Hull; High Water Speed; Adaptive; Plaining; Ground Vehicle; Amphibious

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