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Boeing's Phantom Badger packs a lot of combat vehicle into a small package

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April 18, 2014

The Phantom Badger deploying from an Osprey

The Phantom Badger deploying from an Osprey

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The US military fields some pretty impressive vehicles, but they aren't worth much if they don’t fit on the aircraft intended to transport them. Last month, the US Navy removed one obstacle when it cleared the Boeing Phantom Badger combat support vehicle for transport inside a V-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft. After a battery of tests, including form-fit checks, pressure tests and structural evaluations of over four G’s, the modular vehicle was a step closer to deployment by the US Marine Corps and US Air Force Special Operations.

After 30 years of often controversial and expensive development, the V-22 Osprey that flies like a fixed-wing aircraft, yet takes off and lands like a helicopter has come into its own. Used by the US Marine Corps and US Air Force Special Operations, it gets the soldiers to their destination. The problem is, once the Marines and Special Ops guys get there, they’re pretty much walking.

What they need is something that’s modular, versatile, survivable, and operates on all terrains. Oh yes, it also needs to fit in the Osprey’s cargo bay. Unfortunately, there wasn't anything in the US inventory that does all that, so Boeing Phantom Works came up with the Phantom Badger. That may sound like a lame cartoon character, but it’s assigned to a vehicle that’s not only designed to be carried in the belly of an Osprey, but has a modular rear section that can be quickly adapted for particular missions, such as reconnaissance, combat search and rescue, casualty transport, direct action with weapons mounts, or explosive ordnance disposal.

The Phantom Badger has some impressive off-roading specs, including a 240 bhp (179 kW) multi-fuel engine, four-wheel drive, all-wheel steering, and a top speed of 80 mph (130 km/h). There are also hydraulic and suspension systems that allow it to travel at speed in rough conditions without exhausting its passengers with excess buffeting. In addition, Boeing says that its 35-in (90-cm) tires can handle logs as thick as telephone poles, and it can carry 3,300 pounds (1,500 kg) of payload, which is an increase over comparable vehicles. The coachwork comes in anything you like, so long as it’s camouflage.

The development of the Phantom Badger by the Special Pursuits Cell at Boeing Phantom Works took only six months from the first computer design to an operating product. Boeing managed this by going into partnership with MSI Defense Solutions of North Carolina, which brought its expertise in developing NASCAR vehicles as well as tactical vehicles to the project.

So far, the Phantom Badger has completed 5,000 test miles (8,046 km), including airdrops from a C-17 cargo plane. The project has now moved to a production facility in Mooresville, North Carolina, where assembly and fabrication of the vehicle and mission modules will be carried out.

"My experiences at Joe Gibbs Racing provided me the knowledge and skills for suspension tuning that I use today on Phantom Badger," says Andrew Wizorek, MSI’s design engineer and program manager for Phantom Badger. "To fit in the V-22, we have very little room to package all of the subsystems. Even more challenging, we had to design each individual component for commonality and easy maintenance."

Source: Boeing

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About the Author
David Szondy David Szondy is a freelance writer based in Monroe, Washington. An award-winning playwright, he has contributed to Charged and iQ magazine and is the author of the website Tales of Future Past. All articles by David Szondy
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9 Comments

Huzzah! They've brought back the jeep!

Can't wait to get hands-on when they're declared surplus....

justme70

@ justme70 The jeep was a quarter ton not a one and three quarter ton.

Slowburn

I would call it the 3M - the mini military mover. :)

I agree, it would be cool when they become surplus.

BigGoofyGuy

Where did it say it weighed one and three quarter ton ?

And yes, cheap surplus would be nice....

Martin Hone

It looks a bit tall and narrow to me, and over-powered too. I hope they haven't repeated the error made by the then UK War Department with their "specially designed by a committee" Austin Champ of the 1950's. And I think Slowburn (above) was referring to load capacity, which is a claimed 1500kg or a one and a half tonner, rather than gross weight.

Grunt

I think justme70 mistook the payload capability (3300 LBs) for the vehicle weight.

Jon Smith

I think Justme70 was referring to the style/design/size of the vehicle.

MK23666

Produce some for civilian market, see Off Road Baja OR Off Road Adventures alone for civil tourism uses Other uses: MedEvac Search Rescue Gun truck ( see Vietnam War). Cargo C3I C3 Tow truck

Stephen Russell

I rounded the cargo capacity up.

Slowburn
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