Rat Claws to the rescue

Yesterday USA Today ran a story called Humvee doors can trap troops. In the piece, Tom Vanden Brook notes

humvee rat claw 10th ID testing the ‘Rat Claw’

The Army is fixing the doors of every armored Humvee in combat in Iraq because they can jam shut during an attack and trap soldiers inside, Pentagon records and interviews show.

The door trouble, the latest in a series of problems with the Humvees since the Iraq war began, is an unintended consequence of the Pentagon’s effort to add armor to protect troops from makeshift bombs.

During all the (very well-deserved) outcry over the lack of armored vehicles in Iraq during the early days of the initial post-invasion occupation, we heard a lot of complaints that the non-uparmored Humvees were suffering because they were never designed to carry the weight of extra armor. Suspension systems were unable to cope, gas mileage went down the tubes, and roll-overs were much more likely in a vehicle where the center of gravity was shifted up as more and more was bolted onto what was originally designed as a light multi-purpose utility vehicle.

Blocked or jammed doors, which weigh up to 600 pounds to begin with, can be a major problem after a Humvee has been hit by an IED or rolled over during an accident. Often the troops inside survive the initial blast but are unable to escape and medics have trouble getting in to aid wounded passengers.

A number of modifications have been made, including the use of quick-release windshields and a device known as the Rat Claw, a simple D-shaped hook that allows jammed doors to be pulled open by another vehicle in an emergency. Additionally, a specialized simulator to train troops to escape rolled Humvees has just entered service at Fort Carson and more are on the way. Discussions are underway for more significant changes to the Humvee, as well.

Meanwhile, of course, some continue to push for more Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles and manufacturers continue to scramble to fill the requests. And the fact that tanks are still in very high demand cannot be ignored.

There’s a discussion about this over on Military.com.

Comments

  1. MO, Regarding ‘tanks are still in very high demand’- what is often overlooked is that commiting a tank to a battlefield is a signal of how serious the US is about the operation. This is less a point in Iraq, than in places where American military adventures are either new or, if already in existence, greatly expanded. The presence of heavy armor in places like Kosovo, or Nigeria, or Somalia, would signal national will more clearly than a low key, SOF-led advisory program might.