By Paolo Valpolini
Combining a compact and stealthy shape with the capability of carrying out long range missions lasting several days is not easy task, mission duration inevitably carrying with it an increase in dimensions and a greater visual signature.
Compactness and stealthness were among key requirements in the development of Arquus’ Scarabee technology demonstrator, unveiled at Eurosatory 2018.
Increasing the payload while avoiding the basic characteristics of the light armoured 4×4 was the challenge Arquus’ R&D designers had to solve. At the company TechnoDays it was possible to see the model of a trailer that has been conceived to allow increasing the vehicle payload. Its designers state that this might be of use in 20% of the envisaged missions, the trailer being defined in French language EAC (Engin d’Allègement au Contact). The trailer designed for the Scarabee is far from being a conventional one, although the starting point was exactly a classic trailer with one axle, suspensions, pneumatics, drawbar, etc. The first thing was to give it an automotive capacity, adding two electric motors each driving a wheel, these being powered by a Li-Ion battery pack; the latter can be recharged when going downhill or when braking, engines counter-rotating to generate power, while batteries will provide power and thus allow the trailer to add its traction to that of the vehicle when operating on difficult terrain, avoiding reducing the vehicle performances.
Another key element is that the drawbar wheel can be lowered and the trailer unhooked without requiring the crew to leave the protection of the Scarabee hull. Not only, it can also be teleoperated, thus moving under remote control from the vehicle to carry out some missions, add-on modes being also available, i.e. navigation through waypoints, or the capacity to follow an itinerary previously reconnoitred by video.
The loading platform is modular, thus the payload can be quickly adapted to the current mission. The autonomy of the trailer allows carrying out Casevac missions, fitting it with a medical module, or even a fire mission, adding a weaponised module, in that case always keeping a man in the loop to carry out the firing mission, the operator being located in the mother-vehicle.
A cluster mode recovery will be available, allowing a single manned vehicle to recover multiple trailers that have been gathered in an RVP thanks to their autonomous capabilities.
Considering the dimensions and weight of the Scarabee and the trailer, three vehicles plus trailer systems can be carried in a single A400M tactical transport aircraft, ensuring easy deployability.
Currently Arquus is proposing its concept of trailer, for which two patents have been filed, and before stepping into the production of a real prototype the company is looking for a financial support from a potential customer to cover at least part of the costs.
Discussions followed the presentations, subjects such as solving the usual problems encountered by trailers during amphibious operations or the need to provide the trailer with a self-destruction capability should it be left alone, to avoid it being captured by opponents, being only a few of those raised during the TechnoDays, open discussions being definitely one of the main objectives of such meetings.
Photos by Arquus and Paolo Valpolini