US Army Tests Future M88A3 Hercules Recovery Vehicle

The US Army is conducting maintainability and reliability tests for the M88A3 Heavy Equipment Recovery Combat Utility Lift Evacuation System (Hercules) at the Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona.

The M88A3 is the latest iteration of the armored recovery platforms BAE Systems is developing for the US Department of Defense.

It has modernized tracks, hydro-pneumatic suspension, an improved powertrain, and increased speed to sustain rapid recovery and cross-country mobility.

BAE Systems signed the contract to transform an M88 vehicle into the first A3 configuration for the Pentagon in 2019.

‘Single-Vehicle Recovery’

According to the US Army, the Arizona trial is being held to evaluate the “effectiveness and longevity” of the Hercules ahead of its operational service. It involves assessments of the vehicle’s winching and hoisting mechanisms for towing missions.

Two M88A3s are currently undertaking these tests, ensuring their suitability to rescue damaged ground platforms on the battlefield.

This feature addresses the “single-vehicle recovery gap” to salvage heavy systems similar to the Abrams main battle tank, which needs at least two of the M88A3’s predecessor A2.

M1A2 Abrams main battle tank
US Army’s M1A2 Abrams main battle tank. Photo: US Army

“It is quite important to verify that the vehicle is able to function with the intended capabilities,” Combat Automotive System Division Test Officer Yoselyn Vargas explained

“Since the upgrades are new, the testing also reassures that the capabilities are functional. The key goal was to increase the old vehicle’s towing capacity from 70 tons to 80 tons in the new version.”

“The two vehicles are going to alternate towing a simulated load weighing around 80 tons. We’ll start off by having one vehicle doing a portion of miles on its own while the other is towing. When we reach a designated point, they will switch off.”

More Tests This Year

The army wrote that both M88A3s at Yuma have already covered a combined distance of 6,000 miles (9,700 kilometers).

Further verifications will take place later this year to complete this phase.

The army noted that a separate team at the Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, is conducting a simultaneous trial of four Hercules systems, half for maintainability and reliability and the other half for full-performance testing.

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