Lockheed XM800W (ARSV)
Armored Reconnaissance Scout Vehicle Prototype
Lockheed completed two vehicles for its part in the U.S. Army MICV-65 XM800 Armored Reconnaissance Scout Vehicle program of the 1960s-1970s.
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With the M113 Armored Personnel Carrier (APC), introduced in 1960, the United States Army was given an ultimately proven workhorse that also went on to see considerable sales and service with foreign parties the world over. It was highly adaptable and used in a myriad of roles - such was its success that many remain in service today (2018). The M114, looking every bit the part of the M113, was developed as a dimensionally larger, squatter, and air-droppable tracked system for the armed reconnaissance role and adopted a short time later in 1962. However, the M114 was deemed a failure by the Army for its time in the Vietnam War (1955-1975) as soon as 1973.
With the poor showing given by the M114 in service, a successor for the reconnaissance role was sought during the mid-1960s resulting in the "MICV-65" program intended to produce a family of related fighting vehicles to undertake various battlefield roles. One of the products of this program became the XM800 Armored Reconnaissance Scout Vehicle (ARSV) which, itself, produced two key vehicles in the "XM800W" (the focus of this article) and the "XM800T'.
Both were intended for the same reconnaissance role but differed in their approaches: the XM800W was developed as an 6x6 wheeled form while the XM800T was given a traditional track-and-wheel drive system. Both shared the same turret armed with a single 20mm Hispano-Suiza H.S.820 series automatic cannon (designated in the U.S. Army inventory as the "M139") backed by a pintle-mounted 7.62mm M60 General Purpose Machine Gun (GPMG). The turret offered complete 360-degree traversal.
The key quality of the XM800W was its articulated hull in which the forward section, with its single twin-wheeled axle, twisted independently of the aft section and its pair of twin-wheeled axles. This provided extreme flexibility for the design when going off road. The hull was further designed as amphibious, allowing the vehicle to traverse certain water sources as needed.
The Army requirement sought a vehicle with excellent survivability and spacious fighting compartments for the crew. The system would need to be fast and adequately-armored but remain in the lightweight class (about 7 tons) for tactical flexibility (suitability for air-transportation was another key quality). The operating crew was to be three personnel (commander, driver, and gunner).
In 1971, design submissions were received for both vehicle types: CONDEC, Ford, and Lockheed attempted to net the wheeled requirement while Chrysler, FMC, and Teledyne-Continental eyed the tracked requirement. In the end, the Lockheed design won out for the former while FMC netted the latter contract. In May of 1972, development contracts covering pilot (prototype) vehicles were given to both Lockheed and FMC covering the "XM800W" and XM800T", respectively.
Before the end of the year, both companies were actively testing their pilot vehicles and evaluations would continue into 1974. However, the Army saw neither form as a suitable alternative to the M113, which could also undertake the armed reconnaissance role (as could the in-service M151 Sheridan light tank), and, as such, neither vehicle was selected for adoption into service. FMC did, however, receive a contract to further certain MICV concepts which ultimately produced the "Bradley" series of Infantry Fighting Vehicles (IFVs) and its related offshoots so not all was lost.
Lockheed completed a pair of XM800W vehicles for their part in this now-abandoned Army program. One remains on display on the outdoor grounds of the Air Force Armament Museum today (2018) in Florida. It is completed in a bright orange scheme which reflects its time at the nearby Eglin Air Force Base EOD range.
As built, the XM800W was powered by a General Motors 6V53T diesel-fueled engine developing 300 horsepower. The engine was mated to an Allison MT650 transmission system offering five forward and two reverse speeds. Armor protection was from an Aluminum allow hull with a cast aluminum/steel turret. The vehicle weighed nearly 17,000lb when emptied. Performance included a road speed of 65 miles per hour and an operational range out to 450 miles (a 90 gallon tank was fitted internally). As an amphibious design, the armored car could make about 5 miles per hour through water sources and carried an Aero-jet water-jet system for propulsion.