• Coalition Forces patrol through the Helmand Province on October 15, 2007, Afghanistan. (U.S. Army Photo by Specialist David Gunn) (Released)
  • Soldiers of the Kalagush Provincial Reconstruction Team prepare to walk to the remote village of Balik during a patrol in the rugged Titin Valley in the Nuristan province of Afghanistan on June 14, 2007. DoD photo by Staff Sgt. Michael Bracken, U.S. Army. (Released)
  • 090827-A-9581M-2480 Four Soldiers establish a defensive security posture around the Humvee they just got out of as they begin pursuit of the person who fired on their convoy while inspecting a rural village during a mounted combat patrol exercise on a Fort McCoy training lane. The Soldiers are from the 631st Maintenance Comany mobilizing to deploy in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Photo by Tom Michele, federally contracted employee of Team Eagle Systems serving the PAO at Fort McCoy, Wis. Publication or commercial use of this material requires a release by a U.S. Army Public Affairs Officer. Credit U.S. Army photograph.
The military's High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV), better known to most of us as the Humvee, has already served a long and distinguished career in the battlefield, and there have been a number of replacements waiting in the wings to take over where the HMMWV left off. Or, should we say, leaves off... assuming that ever happens.

It seems that the Humvee is set to get a new lease on life as military budget constraints are forcing the government to reconsider its replacement. But there are still some pesky safety issues to work out before American soldiers will feel comfortable inside the confines of the off-road box on wheels.

As you're likely aware, improvised explosive devices are an ever-increasing threat to the lives of American troops serving overseas. The Humvee, which traces its design all the way back to the year 1984 when it first saw duty as a replacement for the long-running series of military Jeeps, has seen a number of incarnations over the years that added armor and improved safety, but the latest version may feature something hitherto unseen: a chimney.

No, not a chimney like the one that peeks out of your house. This chimney, along with a V-shaped hull, serves to channel explosive forces up and away from the occupants inside. The structure of the chimney also serves to reinforce the vehicle, connecting its floor with its roof. Other advancements include a new set of doors that open up like barn doors, seats designed to absorb shocks and a sling that promises to lower the gunner into the vehicle in the event of a blast.

Read more about the vehicle here, and be sure to scroll down for the illustration.

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