Lockheed Martin is developing the Future Combat System (FCS) Multifunction Utility/Logistics and Equipment Vehicle/Armed Robotic Vehicle-Assault (Light) vehicle (MULE) under a contract for the FCS Lead System Integrator, The Boeing Company. The vehicle was selected to move into the System Development and Demonstration phase in 2003 and ultimately into production.
The MULE offers an extraordinary capability that will support the U.S. Army’s transformation to a lighter and more mobile fighting force. The MULE’s unique mobility will enable it to go everywhere the soldier can go and more. It will allow soldiers of the transformed Army to use technology to do the dull, dirty and dangerous jobs of the current forces, freeing them to focus on the success of their missions.
The MULE will increase the efficiency of the total force by complementing, not replacing, man and manned platform functions. It provides for future growth through spiral development, and possesses an open architecture designed to take full advantage of the rapid evolution of technology.
The highly mobile platform is designed specifically to meet the requirements of the Future Force soldier for dismounted operations. The MULE’s unique, highly advanced 6×6 independent articulated suspension, coupled with in-hub motors powering each wheel, provides extreme mobility in complex terrain, far exceeding that of vehicles utilizing more conventional suspension systems.
It will climb at least a 1-meter step, far exceeding requirements, and provides the vehicle with the mobility performance and surefootedness required to safely follow dismounted troops over rough terrain, through rock and debris fields and over urban rubble. This technology also allows the MULE to cross 1-meter gaps, traverse side slopes greater than 40 percent, ford water to depths over 0.5 meters and overpass obstacles as high as 0.5 meters, while compensating for varying payload weights and center of gravity locations.
The MULE, a 2.5-ton class vehicle for the FCS, includes three variants: Transport, Armed Robotic Vehicle – Assault (Light) (ARV-A (L)) and Countermine.
The Transport MULE configuration is designed to support the Future Force soldier by providing the volume and payload capacity to carry the equipment and supplies to support two dismounted Infantry Squads. Multiple tie-down points and removable/foldable side railings will support virtually any payload variation. It is suited to support casualty evacuation needs as well.
The ARV-A (L) version will be armed with a line-of-sight gun and an anti-tank capability. It is designed to provide immediate, heavy firepower to the dismounted soldier.
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Source: Lockheed Martin