The Arctic regions, with changing landscapes of water, ice, and snow, have always presented a challenge to every kind of vehicle from snowmobiles and snow shoes to aircraft and ships.
The Arctic regions, with changing landscapes of water, ice, and snow, have always presented a challenge to every kind of vehicle from snowmobiles and snow shoes to aircraft and ships. Even the treeless plains of summer can be deep in mud and spongy growth.
To meet this challenge, the U. S. Navy is testing a surface effect vehicle at Barrow, Alaska, for use in frigid climates. The Surface Effect concept is the use of air forced under the vehicle by a large fan and entrapped by a skirt system. The associated build-up of pressure acts on the under hull of the vehicle to generate sufficient force to support its weight. Thus, the vehicle, riding on a cushion of air, is independent of the surface over which it travels.
A modified SK-5 surface effect vehicle is used to obtain engineering data. When this three-year technology program is completed, a demonstration vehicle may be built. The Navy program visualizes large, all-weather surface effect vehicles which can carry men and cargo over ice and snow in temperature to 65 degrees below zero. Such craft would open up vast areas for exploration and development. A high performance version could also accomplish a variety of military missions.
The Arctic Surface Effect Vehicle Program is under the technical direction of the Naval Ship Research and Development Centre. The program is sponsored by the Advanced Research Projects Agency of the Department of Defense.