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M-973 Small Unit Support Vehicle (SUSV)
The challenging Arctic environment requires military vehicles with performance equal to the cold, wet, and rugged conditions. Since the M29 Weasel half-ton tracked cargo carrier was dropped by the Army in 1958, there was no snow-capable vehicle for support of extreme cold weather operations. A new vehicle was needed to fulfill the Army's requirements for arctic operations, a support vehicle with excellent on- and off-road mobility, easily maintainable, highly reliable in extremely cold weather, able to carry at least one ton of supplies, and helicopter transportable. In November 1982, the M-973 Small Unit Support Vehicle (SUSV) was type classified for the role.
Rather than custom-develop a new vehicle, in 1977 the U.S. Army examined two Swedish vehicles, the Bandvagen 202 (BV 202) and Bandvagen 206 (BV 206), manufactured by Volvo and already in use by NATO countries. In field testing of two of each model, the BV 206 proved superior, and in 1983 the Army negotiated a contract for nearly 300 BV 206Ds supplied by the Land Systems Hagglunds AB company. The Bandvagen 206D became the M-973 1 1/2-ton tracked cargo carrier, the Small Unit Support Vehicle or just SUSV.
The SUSV consists of two plastic reinforced, fiber-glass compartments each mounted on a chassis with twin solid rubber tracks. An articulated steering joint joins the cabs. The front compartment contains the crew area as well as the engine which is readily accessible from the interior of the vehicle. The rear cab is heated and serves as a cargo or troop carrier.
A turbo-charged, five-cylinder 125hp Mercedes OM617A diesel engine provides the power for the SUSV, mated to a Daimler Benz Model W4A-018 automatic transmission with four forward speeds and one reverse. The vehicle is capable of operating at speeds in excess of 30 miles per hour with a range of 120 to 200 miles depending on terrain. When traveling over deep snow, the SUSV tracks have 1.8 psi of ground pressure so rarely sink more than a foot below the snow surface. SUSV will travel up to 150 miles cross-country at 10 to 15 miles per hour combat-loaded while towing an M101 howitzer and has the capability of climbing grades of up to 70 percent. SUSV is amphibious , with a bilge pump for swimming operations. The vehicle is capable of transporting 17 fully-equipped troops or a driver with over 2 tons of supplies. The 9200 pound shipping weight SUSV (payload 4,400 lbs) is air transportable in the C-130 aircraft and can be sling-loaded under a CH-47C helicopter.
Overall M973 SUSV dimensions are 270 inches long, 73 inches wide, and 93 inches high with a 23 1/2 inch track width.
The Hagglunds SUSV is produced in the following variants:
- M973 CARRIER, CARGO: TRACKED, 1-1/2 TON NSN 2350-01-132-9099
- M973A1 CARRIER, CARGO: TRACKED, 1-1/2 TON NSN 2350-01-281-6451
- M1065 CARRIER, COMMAND POST: TRACKED, 1-1/2 TON NSN 2350-01-281-8324
- M1066 CARRIER, AMBULANCE: TRACKED 1-1/2 TON NSN 2350-01-283-6215
- M1067 CARRIER, CARGO: TRACKED, 2 TON (Flatbed) NSN 2350-01-281-6450
Manuals for the SUSV series of vehicles will be numbered TM 9-2350-272-xx or TM 9-2350-285-xx where the xx represents the maintenance level.
Note: Information on this page compiled from Field Artillery Journal (July-August 1986), TM 43-0001-31 and other sources.
M-973 Small Unit Support Vehicle (SUSV).
A line of M-973 Small Unit Support Vehicles (SUSV) transport 2nd Marine Regiment and 3rd Battalion 8th Marines (Camp Lejeune, NC based) at the Mountain Warfare Training Center, Pickle Meadows, CA, 26 January 1997.
M1066 Carrier, Ambulance: Tracked 1-1/2 Ton during exercise Arctic Warrior '91, Fort Greely, Alaska, 31 January 1991.
5055th Range Squadron maintenance personnel drive an M-973 Small Unit Support Vehicles (SUSV), Yukon Gunnery Range, Alaska, 1 November 1985.
Winter camouflaged M-973 Small Unit Support Vehicle (SUSV) during Exercise BRIM FROST '89, Fort Richardson, Alaska, January 1989.
Brigadier General William Fareman (right) of Forces Command (FORSCOM), J-4, watches a soldier from the 706th Maintenance Battalion working on the engine between the seats of an M-973 Small Unit Support Vehicle (SUSV) during Exercise BRIM FROST '89, , Fort Richardson, Alaska, January 1989.