A new generation of military transportation

October 30, 2008 7:07:05 PM PDT
The research and development people at BAE Systems are looking at the possibility of a big defense contract, and plenty of bay area jobs that would come with it. They've been working on a replacement for the Humvee. It's one of the more unusual automotive showrooms, and less than a mile from San Jose-Mineta airport. On Thursday, they showed off something new. "This is one, tough, mean machine," said Nick Lopez. Lopez is quite proud of his work on what may replace the army's Humvee -- that now iconic troop carrier that has proven so vulnerable to roadside bombs in Iraq. Enough soldiers have died in them that the U.S. government went looking for prototypes. A vehicle developed by BAE Systems of San Jose, is one of three finalists. "Things that would cause people to die in a Humvee will allow people to walk away in this vehicle," said BAE Systems Vice President Matt Riddle. THE valanx, as they call it, has an armored floor and is an independent four-wheel drive among other features. The titanium doors weigh 200 pounds. The glass in the windows is three-inch thick glass and the hood is made from Kevlar. "Everybody here, the 2,500 employees that work here, this is stability for the company," said Riddle. Or the potential -- at least. BAE builds the Bradley fighting vehicle among others, but does mostly research and development in the San Jose. Much of the work remains classified, but they did show us a hybrid electric testing lab that might still put such an engine in the valanx, which gets 10 miles per gallon, even at 15,000 pounds. "We've been doing hybrid development for 10 years," said Riddle. The government will give BAE $40 million to build seven prototypes, with much more to follow if this design wins approval. It is national security leading to the financial kind.

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