DETROIT -- Army Gen. Paul Kern, amid cheers of "Hooah!" from the audience, told automotive engineers last week that their work on product quality and standards has become the de facto standard for most military vehicles.
"That's an Army response, 'Hooah,' to anything you really don't have an answer for, and it works very well," Kern joked during a speech at the SAE World Congress.
But as his discussion of future military vehicle technology unfolded, it became clear that the Army has definite production goals for current and future vehicles. Defense procurement has moved away from military specifications for vehicles and instead has accepted commercial specifications for most applications.
The benefits of accepting industry specifications are faster cycle times and easier logistics. For some applications, the standards allow the use of off-the-shelf components, especially electronics, for military vehicles without re-engineering. That means troops in combat may be relying on work done by ordinary design and prototype engineers and that quality problems with components might amount to more than an inconvenient recall.
"They're going to basically use your commercial specifications to survive in some pretty tough conditions," Kern said of soldiers.