The U.S. Army has awarded Ricardo Defense Inc. in Van Buren Township a three-year base contract to provide up to 9,480 critical safety improvement Antilock Brake System/Electronic Stability Control (ABS/ESC) retrofit kits for High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWV).
The contract will pay Ricardo Defense — the American defense product subsidiary of Ricardo plc — $10 million to deliver 1,200 ABS/ESC retrofit kits by August of this year. Later this year, a second delivery order will be placed to increase deliveries to around 2,000 kits over the next 12 months. Overall, the contract is valued at $89 million.
The HMMWV is expected to remain in the U.S. Army’s fleet until 2050, and all new production vehicles will have the ABS/ESC kits installed. The retrofit kits will go to older vehicles that were built before the Army mandated ABS/ESC systems in all new vehicles.
“This is a significant milestone and strong example of Ricardo Defense’s commitment to provide solutions to meet the tough challenges facing our customers and ensure the safety of our men and women in uniform,” says Chet Gryczan, president of Ricardo Defense. “In fielding this system, we are tremendously proud to contribute to the Army’s commitment to the safety of our soldiers and civilians alike.”
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicates the application of ABS and ESC reduces fatal rollover accidents by 74 percent, and fatal impacts by 45 percent. In 2019, the Army provisioned Ricardo’s retrofit kits into the national stock system for vehicles not fitted during new production or Recapitalization. The two-part approach will ensure all fleet vehicles will be fitted with the technology.
“The ABS/ESC retrofit contract award is a culmination of a lot of great work from all parties, and is an essential step in providing this critical safety solution to our fielded HMMWV fleet,” says a spokesperson for the U.S. Army, product director for light tactical vehicles. “We are extremely proud of the Army’s collaboration with Ricardo Defense to provide an affordable and attainable solution that significantly reduces loss of control incidents, vehicle rollover incidents, and ultimately helps save lives.”
The retrofit kits will be installed by Red River Army Depot at the Army’s Center of Industrial and Technical Excellence for tactical wheeled vehicles in Texarkana, Texas and other regional sites across the U.S. beginning in March 2021.
Ricardo Defense Inc. delivers system engineering, mission critical software, and safety-critical products to the U.S. Department of Defense, as well as governments and defense industry suppliers worldwide.
LIFT, the Detroit-based, Department of Defense-supported national manufacturing innovation institute located along Rosa Parks Blvd. in Corktown, helped develop the program. One of the institute’s initial projects — to further develop and scale an ABS/ESC system and provide validation of quality retrofit installation on the HMMWV fleet — was completed in 2017.
The project was funded and program managed by LIFT in collaboration with Ricardo Defense, and led to the successful retrofitting of 10 Michigan National Guard vehicles with the optimized ABS/ESC system. In turn, the kits were made available for purchase by military units worldwide.
Based on National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data from similar vehicle classes, ABS and ESC systems significantly reduces fatal rollovers — by 74 percent.
“This successful technology transfer into the marketplace and into the hands of the military to improve soldier safety is exactly why LIFT exists as a public-private partnership,” says Nigel Francis, CEO and executive director of LIFT. “We are proud of the role we played to fund and manage this project and help it get to a position where it could be scaled up and implemented into the hands of the warfighter.”
The initial project included support from GKN, Michigan Technological University, and the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, along with Ricardo and LIFT.