Charlotte, NC The first Class III compact motor grader, tailored for rapid deployment with America™s airborne forces, moved a major step closer to joining military equipment fleets with its recent application to the Defense Logistics Agency. The C86 AACG Air Assault Compact Grader is one of six compact graders that Champion Motor Graders has offered to Defense Supply Center Philadelphia, with terms for expedited delivery and discounted pricing for all federal agencies.
The C86 AACG project has been in development for several years, since the Champion Graders first came to the attention of military attendees at the ConExpo equipment exhibition. Discussions at the time revolved around the need to provide airborne troops with a motor grader they could transport in single helicopter sortie. Until now, graders to be used by airborne engineers have been sectionalized into two large components that are transported separately, then re-assembled after delivery. The Champion C86 Compact Grader is a 100 hp all-wheel drive machine that fits well into the weight limit and dimensional envelope for the single-lift profile.
Bryan Abernathy, Vice President of Sales & Marketing for Champion Motor Graders, explained that the modern evolution of airborne missions led to the requirement for a new type of grader. Historically, the missions called for heavier pieces of equipment that could be dropped into any target zone, and carve a new landing strip or road out of the raw terrain. Today™s strategies are more likely to utilize existing air bases and infrastructure, but equipment has to be moved in quickly to repair and restore the prepared surfaces. It™s the kind of work that lighter machines like the C86 are built for, and they can get to work faster than a sectionalized machine.
Abernathy says that much of the airborne equipment inventory is turning to smaller, more nimble machines, such as compact loaders and skid steers. Class III graders fit into the same general class of equipment, providing many big grader capabilities in a more compact design.
The C86 Grader first went to boot camp with the 101 Airborne engineers at Ft. Campbell, KY. According to Abernathy, the standard commercial version of the C86 underwent several modifications to become the prototype Air Assault Compact Grader. The C86 AACG Grader is equipped with a low profile cab or ROPS canopy to allow drive-on/drive-off loading for a C-130 transport. Tie-downs are added to secure the machine inside a C-130 or to sling under a Chinook helicopter. Handholds and a special grip coating on the body surfaces help Army riggers to climb on top of the grader to hook it up to the helicopter sling. Additional design detailing minimizes chafing on sling lines and tie lines.
The original AACG, accompanied by a team from Champion, then spent a week at
Ft. Campbell with the troops of the 101st. The grader was put through a series of exercises to evaluate its essential grading capabilities. Later, trial air lifts were conducted with both the C130 aircraft and with the CH-47 helicopter. It was a great opportunity for us to listen to the soldiers, Abernathy reports. We got the chance to learn what they really needed, which features and procedures work best, so we could refine the design. But overall, the tests were a huge success!
According to Abernathy, the initial trials provided a clear demonstration of the advantages of a single-lift machine over sectionalized graders. A sectionalized machine normally requires a good eight-hour day to re-assemble and start it up. With the single-lift, the machine hits the ground running. The troops don™t have to worry about getting the two grader sections dropped in two different places. From a basic logistics standpoint, you can deploy a single-lift unit with, literally, half as many aircraft!
Although no Request for Proposals has yet been issued for a Class III compact grader, the classification has been written and Abernathy has been receiving enquiries from several service branches. The 82nd Airborne has already expressed interest in the project to Abernathy, and he sees potential AACG roles with Homeland Security and the National Guard as well as the Air Force and the Navy. Champion has also developed a version of the grader with a removable top section that brings the machine into conformance with Marine Corps requirements for delivery by LAPES (Low Altitude Parachute Extraction System). Champion”s application to DSCP also covers the commercial range of Champion Compact Graders,providing the means for other non-military government agencies to take advantage of the established pricing and delivery struture.
One of the oldest names in the equipment industry, Champion Motor Graders has specialized in the development of compact graders and attachments for over 25 years. Champion engineering and manufacturing, based in Charlotte, NC, are dedicated to the production of compact machines that assure customers of the same productivity and quality standards they expect from the best in full-size construction machinery. The Champion line-up now includes five basic models with operating weights from 12,000 to 15,500 lbs., featuring the full range of single-axle, tandem and all-wheel 4×4 and 6×6 drive systems. Champion continues to develop a growing range specialized equipment for the road maintenance and paving industry.