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New tactical vehicle rolls onto Moody

Staff Sgt. Tim Bele navigates a new medium tactical vehicles over an obstacle May 9 at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. The MTV is a replacement for the M923 five-ton utility truck. Sergeant Bele is a 820th Security Forces Group vehicle mechanic. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Parker Gyokeres)

Staff Sgt. Tim Bele navigates a new medium tactical vehicles over an obstacle May 9 at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. The MTV is a replacement for the M923 five-ton utility truck. Sergeant Bele is a 820th Security Forces Group vehicle mechanic. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Parker Gyokeres)

MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. (AFPN) -- Airmen of the 820th Security Forces Group here in May received two of the 18 new light medium tactical vehicles scheduled to replace the aging five-ton M923 and 2.5-ton "Deuce" M35 utility trucks.

The group is expected to receive nine five-ton capacity medium tactical vehicles and nine 2.5-ton capacity LMTVs to replace all of its older vehicles, said Tech. Sgt. Stephen Kotlark, the 820th SFG fleet manager.

"The deuces and five-tons we have assigned to the 820th SFG now are more than 20 years old and they're not much different from those used during World War II," Sergeant Kotlark said. "It's definitely time for some new equipment."

The approximately $150,000 vehicles are designed to be easier to maintain, safer to operate and more capable than their 30- to 40-year-old predecessors, said Staff Sgt. Tim Bele, an 820th SFG vehicle mechanic.

"These new trucks can scale a 60 percent grade with a 10,000-pound load, and then drive through 30 inches of water," Sergeant Bele said. "I wouldn't dream of doing that in a deuce. But with this truck, it just keeps asking for more."

When the mission calls for the vehicle to be shipped, packed up or airlifted, the LMTV has a trick up its sleeve. 

It can make itself shrink, Sergeant Bele said. The truck is equipped with hydraulic jacks mounted on the suspension. With a turn of a knob, the truck's air system powers a hydraulic pump, compressing the front suspension up to eight inches. Another switch deflates airbags that support the rear suspension. In moments, the vehicle is capable of being transported by a C-130 Hercules.

The LMTV also allows unhindered access to the engine, he said. The vehicle's cab-over design lets maintainers use the same hydraulic system to hinge the entire cab of the truck up and out of the way. Since the cab cannot be entered while it is open, the designers placed a second set of engine controls on the engine itself. But only mechanics are expected to need these controls during long-term scheduled maintenance.

"An average pre-use inspection can be accomplished without the operator ever opening the engine compartment," Sergeant Bele said. "All fluid inspection ports, filler openings and dipsticks are aligned in a single location, with clear markings to prevent confusion."

Maintaining these vehicles also takes less time and is less labor-intensive, which gives mechanics more time to focus on maintaining other vehicles and equipment, he said.

"I'm looking forward to less maintenance because the vehicles are new," he said. "The engine, transmission, chassis air and electrical systems are all computer controlled. This makes them far easier to troubleshoot because we are able to use the LMTV's built-in diagnostic system. In addition, repair parts are based on common commercial heavy truck hardware, so our unit can order what it needs from civilian parts suppliers."

With less down-time for maintenance, less equipment failures due to old equipment, more global mobility and more battlefield capability, these trucks will change the way the 820th moves its gear, Sergeant Kotlark said.

"These MTVs and LMTVs will provide reliable transportation to and from training zones, natural disasters and contingencies," Sergeant Kotlark said. "Acquiring the vehicles allows our squadrons to train on the actual vehicle types they will find in the combat zone. The end result is a more combat-capable force."

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