Spy Shots: AM General Humvee prototype caught!

click above image for more views of the AM General Humvee Prototype

Though normally hiding in bushes and waiting for the next-gen Mustang or Corvette Blue Devil to pass by, Brenda Priddy and pals sometimes spy things not meant for public consumption. They recently photographed a new AM General HUMVEE prototype that will be competing for the military's Future Tactical Truck System (FTTS) contract, which will produce the replacement for the current Humvee, of which some 140,000 are still in active service. Though prototypes from Lockheed Martin and other military contractors will also be submitted, this is AM General's bid to keep the Humvee in the game.

Follow the jump for more details and Priddy's own analysis of the vehicle that's aided by her consult with some military experts, and check out the high-res pics in our gallery below.

[Photos: Brenda Priddy & Co.]

According to Priddy, the prototype Humvee sports a completely revised front end that is clearly larger than the current model's. It's thought that the new hood will allow for the repackaging of the intake system and relocation of the cooling system from the top of the motor to the front. Speaking of the motor, the "GEP No. 7" printed under the door is likely a reference to General Engine Products, one of AM General's subsidiaries that supplies the engines for Humvees. This prototype probably has a new version of GEP's 6.5L diesel with a big bump in power over the old model. It's also rumoured the powertrain will include a hybrid electric to improve fuel economy, as well.

Also notice the prototype cab, specifically the bare metal that indicates AM General is designing this new truck with a "blast tub" that will protect occupants from explosives, specifically rocket propelled grenades and IEDs. It also appears that the prototype has a significantly higher ground clearance than the current model – 22.5 inches compared to 16 inches – and much larger wheels. Other items of note include larger air drop rings on the hood, which imply an increase in the vehicle's curb weight, and the ballast weight placed in the prototype's bed, another indication that this next-gen Humvee will be able carrier heavier loads.

FTTS (Future Tactical Truck System)

Although I am not an expert in military Humvees, I sought out the advice from people who were. And where this might look like any other Humvee found in and around military bases, we've been told that this is actually a prototype.

Read a composit of what my sources explained:

While AM General's Humvee is a legendary military vehicle, the company has found themselves shut out of the Army's Tank and Automotive Command prototype competition for the FTTS (Future Tactical Truck System) that will replace the aging Humvee. However this development vehicle clearly shows AM General will still be making bid to replace the roughly 140,000 Humvees already in service in the U.S. Military. AM General will face stiff competition for the FTTS contracts from companies such as Lockheed Martin, Force Protection Inc. and Navistar's military business division.

The first noticeable change is the revised hood, which may or may not be the final design. The new hood is designed to accommodate the repackaging of the intake system as well as the cooling system being moved from above the motor to in front of the motor. I believe that's the radiator showing through the grill openings.

The "GEP No. 7" painted under the door is a reference to General Engine Products (a subsidiary of AM General.) We believe the motor underneath the ungainly hood is a revised version of the 6.5L diesel motor made by GEP. It's rumored that this motor has seen a significant jump in power due to improvements in the injection system as well as an improved combustion chamber design. Additionally, we believe a hybrid electric powertrain has been added to the big diesel motor to help with fuel economy and electricity generation.

The cab has clearly been revised and armored with a heavier construction. AM General is likely utilizing a "blast tub" design where the vehicle as a whole might not survive a blast, but the occupants inside the armored "tub" would survive. The use of reactive armor panels are also possible with the new vehicle. When hit with a projectile, reactive panels explode outward, deflecting the projectile. These panels are significantly lighter than conventional steel and are particularly effective against rocket propelled grenades.

According to our tape measure, the ground clearance has increased to an astonishing number. While the current Humvee sports a 16 inch ground clearance, we measured this prototype's clearance at around 22.5 inches. Another impressive number on this vehicle shows up on the tires. A massive set of Goodyear 335/65R 22.5 tires adorns this test vehicle. The 22.5 inch wheels are held together with no less than 18 bolts and then attached to the vehicle with 8 more lugs. We weren't able to tell if a central tire inflation system was in place.

The last change we noticed were the larger, beefier air drop rings peeking through the hood. This seems to indicate the new vehicle will weigh more. The ballast weight we saw in the back of this test car also seem to indicate that this new military vehicle will be setup to traverse the battlefield with heavier loads.

Brenda Priddy

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