Lightweight Track Technology
Navy SBIR 2018.2 - Topic N182-095
MCSC - Mr. Jeffrey Kent -
Opens: May 22, 2018 - Closes: June 20, 2018 (8:00 PM ET)


TITLE: Lightweight Track Technology


TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Ground/Sea Vehicles

ACQUISITION PROGRAM: Marine Corps Assault Amphibious Vehicle (AAV) Survivability Upgrade (SU) AAV-7A2

The technology within this topic is restricted under the International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR), 22 CFR Parts 120-130, which controls the export and import of defense-related material and services, including export of sensitive technical data, or the Export Administration Regulation (EAR), 15 CFR Parts 730-774, which controls dual use items. Offerors must disclose any proposed use of foreign nationals (FNs), their country(ies) of origin, the type of visa or work permit possessed, and the statement of work (SOW) tasks intended for accomplishment by the FN(s) in accordance with section 3.5 of the Announcement. Offerors are advised foreign nationals proposed to perform on this topic may be restricted due to the technical data under US Export Control Laws.

OBJECTIVE: Develop a lightweight track product for land and water mobility by using innovative materials, design, and manufacturing processes to reduce scheduling, manpower and time burden while achieving increased cost efficiencies to translate into lifecycle cost reductions.

DESCRIPTION: The Marine Corps seeks a lightweight track product design that provides enhanced water track and land mobility through reduced weight, less ground pressure, better traction and lateral stability; reduced platform vibration, noise, radar/acoustic signatures, weight, and rolling resistance; improved track life and energy efficiency; corrosion and maintenance-free operations; and lower life cycle costs.

Currently, the Assault Amphibious Vehicle (AAV) uses the Bradley infantry fighting vehicle’s suspension system (including T157 track), and provides a stable platform for both water and land mobility. The track strings are made of steel track links integrated with rubber track pads (Track Shoe, Vehicular NSN 2530-01-442-9686) that incur a substantial cost penalty of 9,960 pounds per pair with operations and sustainment. What is needed is the development of a new lightweight track design with the ability to reduce fuel consumption, vibration, and noise dB, while reducing maintenance time, improving speed, acceleration, and maneuverability capabilities in both the water and on land.

Comparing to current T157 track performance, this topic seeks to explore innovative and alternative track system designs for military vehicles. Of particular interest are concepts that satisfy either some or all the following criteria:

• Reduce track weight by 25% (T157: 71.4 lb/ft)
• Equivalent or better water track speed performance
• Produce less vibration
• Decrease noise level
• Decrease lifecycle cost
• Increase time between maintenance
• Decrease fuel consumption

The new lightweight track design needs to either maintain the same interface with the remaining suspension components of the current system or keep a minimum impact on the current running gear layout.

The lightweight track design must operate in basic water, on primary and secondary roads, trails, and cross-country conditions. Basic water conditions are of salt and fresh, open ocean, surf zones, lakes, rivers, streams, marshes, swamps, snow, slush, and ice. Water Tracks Mode is employed during ship to shore, shore to shore, and riverine operations. Water Tracks Mode is defined as having the engine running, as well as providing the vehicle functions associated with amphibious mobility (land and water), however in this mode the water jets are not operating, only the tracks. Primary roads are high-quality paved, secondary pavement, and rough pavement surfaces. Secondary Roads are loose surface, loose surface with washboard and potholes, and Belgian block surfaces. Trails are one lane, unimproved, seldom maintained, loose surface roads intended for low-density traffic. Typically trails have no defined road width, large obstacles (rubble, boulder, logs, and stumps), cross ditches, washouts, steep slopes, and no bridging/culverts. Cross-country terrain can consist of tank trails with crushed rock or having large exposed obstacles (rocks, boulders, etc.), but there are no roads, routes, well-worn trails, or man-made improvements. This includes, but is not limited to, flat desert, marshes, vegetated plains, jungle, dense forest, mountains, and urban rubble. The system must be operable and maintain Full Operational Capability (FOC) with the vehicle at Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) 75,000 pounds:

• Lateral slopes of up to 40%
• Ascending / descending grades of up to 60%
• Trails grades up through 40%
• Maintain 64.37 kph (40 mph) forward speed on level Primary Roads
• Water speed of 3.3 knots (3.7 mph) in calm seas using Water Tracks Mode
• Reverse water speed of one (1) to two (2) knots
• Accelerate in the forward direction from 0 to 20 mph (32.2 kph) in 10.5 seconds or less on a dry, hard, level surface
• Stop within 15.24 meters (50 feet) from the forward speed of 32.2 kph (20 mph) on a dry, hard, level surface with a drift not to exceed 0.91 meters (3 feet) in the actual stopping distance
• Ascend a 91 cm (36 inch) vertical obstacle in the forward direction without preparation of the vehicle
• Ambient air temperatures from -32º C (-25.6º F) to +52º C (125.6º F) in MIL-STD-810
• Temperature shock of 28º C (50º F) temperature change within one (1) minute from both cold to hot and from hot to cold in MIL-STD-810

PHASE I: Explore the applications of advanced material system concepts for a lightweight, durable, lower lifecycle cost, track design that improves service life, maintainability, and manufacturing techniques to meet requirements outlined above. Develop concepts for salt water testing, methodology to evaluate the expected service life of a lightweight track design, and establish a feasible concept that can be developed into a useful product for the Marine Corps. Feasibility will be established by material testing and analytical modeling, as appropriate. Provide a Phase II plan that identifies performance goals, key technical milestones, and address technical risks.

PHASE II: Based on the results of the Phase I effort and the Phase II plan, develop materials and a process for prototypes testing. Evaluate the prototype to determine if the performance goals defined in the Phase II development plan and the requirements outlined in the Description above have been met. Demonstrate system performance through prototype evaluation and modeling to include durability and environmental performance. Using results, refine the design to optimize performance. Prepare a Phase III plan to transition the technology to the Marine Corps.

PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Upon successful completion of Phase II, conduct full-scale application, testing, demonstration, implementation, and commercialization. The new enabling technologies developed under this SBIR topic would have direct application to other Department of Defense applications including other service’s lightweight track systems on Tactical Vehicles, Heavy Equipment, and Industrial Equipment.

The technologies developed under this SBIR topic would be of interest to industrial, agricultural, and recreational vehicles. The technologies would also have applications for mining, construction, and farming industries with large bulldozers, excavators, graders, and farming equipment.


1. AMPC 706-356, AMC Pamphlet: Engineering Design Handbook – Automotive Series – Automotive Suspensions.  U.S. Army Materiel Command: April 1967.

2. Wong, Jo Yung. Theory of Ground Vehicles, 4th Edition”, New York: A Wiley-Interscience Publication, 2008.

3. “Military Rubber Track Applications Vehicles 35-45 Tonnes.” Soucy, 5 Jan 2018.

4. “Armoured Vehicle Tracks” DST Defence Service Tracks, 5 Feb 2018.

5. “Technology Integration” GS Engineering, 5 Feb 2018.

6. Hornback, Paul. “Problems Persist, But Continuous Band Track Shows Promise in Light Armor Applications.” ARMOR — January-February 1999: Pages 21 and 50.

KEYWORDS: Continuous Track; Composite Materials; Rubber; Kevlar; Titanium; Amphibious; Fuel Savings; Combat Vehicle; Heavy Weight; Component Durability; Reduced Life Cycle Cost; Segmented


Jeff Banko






Joe Chou






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