by A21 Reporter Andy Clems
Sidewinder, the US Army’s prototype combat walker, has just completed the final leg of a grueling endurance mission. The exercise lasted three weeks and took the powerful vehicle on a journey of almost 3,000 miles across the Sahara desert.
General Montgomery of the US Army stated that the Sidewinder had “More than proved itself, despite some early setbacks.” Although he didn’t elaborate, it’s likely the General was referring to the recovery of the Sidewinder from a flaming underground pit, thanks to the efforts of International Rescue some months ago. Repairs were quickly carried out and the machine was rapidly returned to operational status.
Colonel Sweeney, the commander of Sidewinder reported, “The endurance exercise was a walk in the park compared to being trapped in that pit!” The Colonel, a seasoned US Army veteran, took charge of the Sidewinder at Base Camp Charlie, the starting point of the long journey. Unlike previous tests with minimal crew, Sidewinder departed Charlie with a compliment of 30 enlisted men on board.
The aim of the mission was to assess Sidewinder’s ability to operate alone in a harsh environment with no support for miles around. Particular emphasis was placed on the machine’s tolerance to extremes of temperature and mechanical reliability. Crew response times were tested with regular drills at all hours of the day and night. Weapons tests took place in designated war games sectors using drone air and land targets, while stability tests were performed using the newly installed gravity compensation generators (GCGs). The GCGs were added to the original design after Sidewinder was rescued from the pit as a means to prevent a similar disaster from happening in future.
Across all areas of testing, the Sidewinder scored an impressive 95% effective rating, ensuring future development of the project. A variant configuration known as the Viper is under construction at present. Designed for maximum cargo capacity, the Viper features less armaments, but is equipped with six legs for additional support and a greater maximum speed.
It is expected that the initial production run will see a further 50 Sidewinder-type combat walkers joining the ranks of the US Army and allied forces around the globe. For more on the project as it happens, be sure to tune in to A21’s military corespondent Tommy Gunn.