Sunday, 28 September 2014

Boeing´s new Phantom Badger

The Willys MB – better known as the original jeep – was a game-changer during World War II. 
Small, agile, versatile and durable, jeeps were easy to deploy, easy to operate and easy to 
maintain, making them perhaps the Allies’ most important battlefield equipment. 

More than 70 years later, US aircraft maker and defence supplier Boeing has revisited the 
original jeep’s winning formula in a stocky little bruiser of a car called the Phantom Badger

Like the MB, the Phantom Badger is compact – just 60 inches wide – and, with four-wheel 
steering, it is highly manoeuvrable. The setup gives the vehicle a turning circle of just 24ft 
fully 10ft tighter than a Mini Cooper’s. Such agility is particularly valuable in urban 
environments, where the ability to make tight turns and slip through narrow alleys can 
change the outcome of a battle.

And like the original jeep, which employed a version of the Go Devil L-head engine from 
Willys’ civilian Americar line, the Phantom Badger makes use of the 3-litre turbo-diesel 
V6 from the Jeep Grand Cherokee. The engine – which can run on JP-8 jet fuel as well as 
diesel – produces 240 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque, sufficient to enable the 
four-wheel-drive Badger to reach a breezy 80mph on paved surfaces.

The PB is more than merely tough; it is transportable. On 8 April, after a series of 
heavy tests that included form-fit checks, pressure trials and structural evaluations, the 
US Navy officially certified the Phantom Badger for transport in the belly of the 
Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft a big step toward actual deployment 
with the US Marine Corps and US Air Force Special Operations, both of which 
already operate the Osprey.

With the vertical takeoff and landing capability of a helicopter and the speed and range 
of a traditional turboprop aircraft, the Osprey can deliver cargo to tight spaces and hostile 
environments and get out quickly. (The current record for off-loading a Badger is just 
17 seconds.) 
The Osprey first flew in 1989 and has known its share of troubles over the years including 
a swollen budget and some highly publicised crashes. 
But it has since proven its mettle in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as on humanitarian 
missions, including the delivery of relief supplies after Typhoon Yolanda hit the 
Philippines in November 2013. 

But the arrival of the Phantom Badger gives the 30-year-old aircraft a whole new 
lease on life.

The Badger’s real trick is its extraordinary versatility. 

The vehicle is designed to accommodate a variety of mission-specific rear modules. 
Boeing has designed 10 so far, including packages for reconnaissance, combat search 
and rescue, casualty transport and explosive ordnance disposal, along with mounts 
for such weapons as a .50-caliber machine gun and a 40mm automatic grenade 

Modules attach to the Badger body with six bolts at six connection points, and are 
interchangeable in the field in 30min or less!

Not a company known for its four-wheeled conveyances, Boeing created the PB with 
the aide of North Carolina-based MSI Defense Solutions. 
MSI applied its expertise in off-road racing, Nascar and Formula 1 to develop the 
Badger's suspension and four-wheel-steering systems, and is presently handling 
the design and fabrication of the interchangeable mission modules.

The Phantom Badger is tough, but it is no armoured personnel carrier. 

It was designed primarily for expeditionary missions, where speed and manoeuvrability 
matter – just like the original Jeep. And like its heroic grandfather, the Phantom Badger 
will be a game-changer on the modern battlefield, able to go places and do things the 
outsize Hummer never could. 

Although contracts with the US Department of Defense and other governments are in 
the works, Boeing has plans for the Phantom Badger that extend beyond 
the battlefield. 

The vehicle lends itself to fire-fighting, law enforcement, search and rescue and 
other applications. And how about a civilian version?  

“Absolutely, yes,” says John Chicoli, Boeing’s Phantom Badger program manager. 
“It is a commercial vehicle, and Boeing will gladly have a discussion with anyone is 
interested in purchasing Phantom Badgers for their collection or personal use.” 

For now, however, Badger pricing remains classified.