Get Task & Purpose in your inbox
Troops Might Soon Be Riding The Hydrogen-Powered Chevy Colorado ZH2 Into Battle
The Army seems to go through ground mobility vehicles about as fast as it goes through different uniforms. In the last fifteen years, the Humvee, Stryker, and MRAP, which are responsible for safely transporting our troops in combat zones, have all been fielded throughout the force and seen heavy use in combat theatres. Now, the Army is considering a more maneuverable option that boasts groundbreaking fuel technology and bears little resemblance to its heavy-handed predecessors: a Chevy Colorado ZH2 pickup truck.
The Army will officially begin testing the Chevy Colorado ZH2, which is being developed by GM and the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development, and Engineering Center (TARDEC), in May, according to IHS Janes. Few details have been released to the public, but we know the truck sits at more than six feet tall and seven feet wide on a stretched mid-size pickup chassis. If fielded, it would be the first combat vehicle powered by a hydrogen fuel cell. This means that the vehicle would be significantly quieter and also carry a lower heat signature, which is important as the battlefield becomes more technologically-advanced.
The ZH2 also integrates an Exportable Power Take Off (EPTO) unit — basically, a generator. This will allow soldiers to bring power to areas where it is not readily available, like remote combat outposts (COPs), or allow a reconnaissance element to stay in their observation post (OP) longer while keeping their communications and surveillance equipment operational. This could lend a game-changing capability to military units, whether they are in a city that had its power knocked out from airstrikes, or patrolling on the steep back roads of the K-G Pass in Afghanistan.
It should be noted that, because of its compact design, the ZH2 would not be a total replacement for the MRAP or Stryker, both of which are capable of carrying squad-sized elements. Judging by the concept photos, the ZH2 appears to be capable of carrying four soldiers in full kit, with one additional soldier as a top gunner. The first thing that comes to mind for such a configuration is that it would be a perfect fit for the type of mounted reconnaissance conducted by U.S. Army’s cavalry scouts. But is it really necessary? That depends on whom you ask.
Staff Sgt. Sean Harrington, a former cavalry scout, weighed in on the vehicle concept in a recent interview with Task & Purpose. “I think scouts have too many vehicle platforms as it is,” he said. “Humvees, Strykers, the BFV, and MRAP are all used in reconnaissance units throughout the Army, so where would this new vehicle fit in?” Harrington, a veteran of four deployments to Iraq, elaborated further, saying, “I think we have plenty of equipment that will do the job and we should probably stick with what we have.”
The existing platforms are far from perfect though. The MRAP is prone to rolling over, and Strykers don’t provide the agility that a pickup truck does. Because of those issues, not everyone in the field is ready to dismiss the ZH2 just yet.
“I like the fact that it is a smaller, more nimble platform,” said Staff Sgt. Doug Jones, another former cavalry scout. “Traditional roles for the Cav include reporting to help shape the commander’s initiative or intent. If the vehicle allows for a more silent and low heat signature approach to screening, it’s got a lot going for it.” The two-time combat veteran did, however, have two major concerns: Will the truck require specialized mechanics? And more importantly, how would the hydrogen fuel cell react in an IED explosion? We won’t know the answers to those questions until the Army completes testing of the ZH2, which begins in May.
Regardless of what the tests show during the evaluation, the end users – the soldiers on the ground – are ultimately the ones who will make the difference in combat. And they will want to know two things: Does this new piece of equipment help me accomplish my mission more effectively than the current equipment, and will this equipment increase my combat survivability? Only time will tell, but as the famous General George S. Patton once said, “Wars may be fought with weapons, but they are won by men.” General Motors and the Army’s top brass will do well to remember that as they evaluate the Chevy Colorado ZH2 in the coming months.
Some Fort Bragg paratroopers who left for the Middle East on a no-notice deployment last month came home Thursday.
About 3,500 soldiers with the 82nd Airborne Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team were sent to Kuwait beginning Jan. 1 as tensions were rising in the region. The first soldiers were in the air within 18 hours of being told to go.
KABUL/WASHINGTON/PESHAWAR, Pakistan (Reuters) - The United States and the Taliban will sign an agreement on Feb. 29 at the end of a week long period of violence reduction in Afghanistan, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the Taliban said on Friday.
Large cargo ships, small fishing boats and other watercraft sail safely past Naval Station Norfolk every day, but there's always a possibility that terrorists could use any one of them to attack the world's largest naval base.
While Navy security keeps a close eye on every vessel that passes, there's an inherent risk for the sailors aboard small patrol boats who are tasked with helping keep aircraft carriers, submarines and destroyers on base safe from waterborne attacks.
So the Navy experimented Wednesday to test whether an unmanned vessel could stop a small boat threatening the base from the Elizabeth River.
Nancy Turner's modern version of keeping a candle in the window while her soldier son is away is a string of electric lights on the front porch that burn red, white and blue.
But where Turner sees patriotism and support for the troops, her Garner homeowners association sees a covenant violation and a potential $50-per-day fine.
Turner was surprised to receive a threatening email last week after an employee from Sentry Management, which manages the Sheldon Place HOA, spotted the illegal illumination during a neighborhood patrol.
"I honestly had no idea it would be a problem," Turner said.
The HOA did not immediately respond to a request for comment sent as a message through its Facebook page.
In the wee hours of Jan. 8, Tehran retaliated over the U.S. killing of Iran's most powerful general by bombarding the al-Asad air base in Iraq.
Among the 2,000 troops stationed there was U.S. Army Specialist Kimo Keltz, who recalls hearing a missile whistling through the sky as he lay on the deck of a guard tower. The explosion lifted his body - in full armor - an inch or two off the floor.
Keltz says he thought he had escaped with little more than a mild headache. Initial assessments around the base found no serious injuries or deaths from the attack. U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted, "All is well!"
The next day was different.
"My head kinda felt like I got hit with a truck," Keltz told Reuters in an interview from al-Asad air base in Iraq's western Anbar desert. "My stomach was grinding."