Allison Transmission, Automatic Choice
We see ourselves working in specialist vehicles, tactical and logistic wheeled vehicles and tracked vehicle platforms
WITH THE INVENTION OF the world’s first heavy-duty automatic transmission, and even now Allison is the premier designer, developer and manufacturer of medium- and heavy-duty fully automatic transmissions and hybrid propulsion systems. It is a brand to trust. At Defexpo in Goa, Dana J.H. Pittard, Vice President, Defense Programs, and Col. Rajneesh Kacker, Head Military Programs, said the company has been talking to major companies in India with regard to the futuristic infantry combat vehicle (FICV) and BMT. “There is so much potential in India and we have the capacity to manufacture for both military and commercial applications,” said Pittard. He mentioned how Allison Transmission had bagged a major order in the US for the JLTV (joint light tactical vehicle) wherein it would be supplying 55,000 units through Oshkosh. Excerpts of the interview:
SP’s Land Forces (SP’s): What is the technology behind your automatic transmission? How is it useful to military applications?
Allison: Allison Automatics optimise all aspects of operational mobility, including acceleration and on/off road mobility. Our continuous power technology offers uninterrupted power to the drive wheels, smooth take-off, low speed control and manoeuvrability. Superior startability and grade-ability are also facilitated by the torque converter/planetary gear design. Transmission mounted power take-offs (PTO) provides installation flexibility and the ability to provide power to vehicle mounted specialty equipment such as self-recovery winches or wrecker systems. The wide range of electronically-controlled input and output options provide the ability to integrate vehicle systems such as central tyre inflation, locking differentials and blackout lighting.
SP’s: What kind of service/repair/maintenance support does Allison have in India? Can it cater for the Indian Army requirements in the coming years?
Allison: The global Allison team’s promise is to provide the most reliable and valued propulsion solutions in the world to enable our customers to work more efficiently.
We also have a highly motivated and skilled team of service and customer support including engineering team based out of Chennai and Delhi with a vast dealership network. There is a training centre at Allison plant in Chennai where we impart instructions to the operators/technicians/drivers.
SP’s: Since Allison is over 100 years old and an established brand in AT can you give us its presence in the armies across the globe?
Allison: As a global company, Allison operates in all continents of the world. Allison developed first AT in 1940s for US Military tracked vehicle and commissioned SP series in wheeled platforms in the 1980s. Our SP and X Drive transmission models are fitted in the entire range of light, medium and heavy tactical wheeled and tracked vehicles. Allison Transmission is used in the US, Canada, Britain, Turkey, Korea, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Holland, Egyptian and Australian armies. Well over 3,00,000 military vehicles across the globe are fitted with Allison AT.
SP’s: Do you think Allison has been able to establish itself in the Indian defence sector?
Allison: Allison has established itself in the Indian defence sector very well. 6x6 MBRL wheeled vehicle on Ashok Leyland platform for the Indian Army has Allison 3200 SP. We are now working on different wheeled and tracked platforms with major OEMs in the Indian defence sector.
SP’s: Do you find Indian defence market responsive in terms of AT? Can you name few military programmes with Allison AT?
Allison: Yes, there is a paradigm shift from manuals to AT. We have over the past few years seen RFIs and RFPs in both wheeled and tracked platforms with AT. Allison is working with OEMs in the following programmes for the Indian Army – LAMV; LSV; WHAP; 8x8, 10x10 and 12x12 platforms and BMP re-powering.
SP’s: What is your take/views on ‘Make in India’?
Allison: I feel we have already participated in the ‘ Make in India’ initiative - Allison already has a manufacturing facility in Chennai producing transmissions for wheeled vehicles since 2010. The challenge we see is convincing the Indian Army to adopt fully automatic transmissions in their military vehicles (wheeled and tracked) quickly.
SP’s: Can you throw some light on Allison Chennai plant in terms of product range?
Allison: The Chennai plant currently produces the 1000/2000 series for our global customers. Our investment at the Chennai facility was well over $100 million. As the demand for our products increases over time, we’ll evaluate our manufacturing needs vs. market demand, and bring in investment at the appropriate time as needed. As we did with the 1000/2000 series transmissions, we’ll invest as the demand for other products increases to the level that it makes business sense to expand our local manufacturing capability.
SP’s: The K-9 Vajra-T howitzer developed by L&T and Samsung Techwin is likely to bag over 5,000-crore order for the 100 such tracked self-propelled 155mm artillery guns. This platform is believed to have an AT. Can you tell us something about the product type? Allison: K-9 Vajra howitzer (155mm artillery gun) developed by L&T and Samsung Techwin on a tracked platform is fitted with Allison X-1100.
X-200 transmission used for tracked defence vehicles displayed at Defexpo