US NGB and Westefx develop vismods for Army’s M1097 HMMWV

31 October 2019 (Last Updated January 20th, 2020 08:40)

The National Guard Bureau (NGB) has partnered with Westefx to develop a visual modification (VisMod) kit for the US Army’s M1097 HMMWV vehicles.

US NGB and Westefx develop vismods for Army’s M1097 HMMWV
An M1097 HMMWV transformed into a T-72 main battle tank using a visual modification kit. Credit: US Army.

The National Guard Bureau (NGB) has partnered with Westefx to develop a visual modification (VisMod) kit for the US Army’s M1097 HMMWV vehicles.

The new kits are designed to make the army’s force-on-force training for brigade combat teams (BCT) more realistic with battlefield effects.

Westefx is a Hollywood special effects company that was awarded a contract last year to enhance the eXportable Combat Training Capability (XCTC) programme.

The company was also contracted by NGB to improve its 21-day combat training exercises.

Westefx owner and lead designer Erick Brennan said: “No enhanced battlefield training simulators can compare with the functionality, realism, durability and cost-effectiveness of this new VisMod vehicle. They are pretty amazing and we are really proud of them.”

Currently, BCTs employ plastic, fibreglass, and sheet metal as visual modifications to simulate enemy vehicles.

According to NGB, the new kit is capable of replicating the army’s M1097 HMMWV into Russian T-72 main battle tanks and BTR-90 personnel carriers.

It is designed to provide ‘effective noise and visual signals’ for soldiers to undergo realistic training.

NGB XCTC programme manager major Aaron Ammerman said: “Taking a look at how VisMods are done across the army, I think these are the best I’ve ever seen.

“They will provide an exponentially more realistic threat signature for troops to train against as they do force-on-force exercises.”

Weighing around 1,700lb, the new kit with an inflatable canvas-like frame can be installed on a Humvee’s chassis.

The kits serve as a cost-effective alternative to actual combat vehicles and feature gas-operated weapon systems, MILES gear along with a smoke generator.

The weapon systems can replicate the firing of .50-calibre and 125mm main guns.

A total of 60 Humvees will be fitted with the kits. About 12 kits have already been deployed onto Humvees at the Idaho Army National Guard’s Orchard Combat Training Center.

The remaining vehicles will be installed in the next three years.