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Ukrainian Army Receives US HEMTT M978 Truck Tankers for Battlefield Logistics.

| Defense News Army 2024

According to a video published on social media on April 9, 2024, the Ukrainian armed forces have received American-made HEMTT (Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck) M978 tankers, which can transport water or fuel on the battlefield. There is no official confirmation regarding the delivery of this type of truck from the United States to Ukraine.
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An American-made HEMTT M978 tanker truck of the Ukrainian armed forces in an undisclosed location in Ukraine. (Picture source Video footage Social Network)

The United States has emerged as the foremost provider of military aid to Ukraine, intensifying its support following the escalation of conflict marked by Russia's broadened offensive on February 24, 2022. Since Russia's initial incursion in 2014 up until December 27, 2023, Washington has allocated over $47 billion to bolster Ukraine's defense capabilities against Russian hostilities, enhance border security, and advance NATO interoperability, as per the U.S. Department of State. Remarkably, under the Biden Administration, approximately $44.2 billion of this assistance has been dispensed since the onset of the renewed conflict in February 2022.

The HEMTT M978 is a variant of the Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck (HEMTT) series, specifically designed as a fuel servicing truck, commonly referred to as a tanker. The HEMTT series, developed by Oshkosh Defense, is a range of 8x8 diesel-powered off-road capable trucks, widely used by the United States military for a variety of logistical and support roles.

The M978 variant is equipped with a large fuel tank, having a capacity of approximately 2,500 gallons (about 9,500 liters), enabling it to refuel military vehicles in the field. This capability is crucial for sustaining military operations by ensuring that vehicles and other fuel-dependent equipment remain operational without the need to return to a fixed base for refueling.

In addition to its primary role as a fuel tanker, the M978 is equipped with a pump and a retractable hose reel to facilitate the transfer of fuel. It can also serve in a limited capacity for distributing water or other liquids, depending on the operational requirements. The truck is designed to operate in a wide range of environments, from desert to arctic conditions, making it a versatile asset in the U.S. military's logistical fleet.

Like other vehicles in the HEMTT series, the M978 features a high ground clearance and a powerful engine, enabling it to traverse difficult terrains while carrying a full load. Its design focuses on mobility, reliability, and the ability to operate independently across the battlefield, supporting both front-line combat units and rear-echelon forces.

The HEMTT M978 has a crew of two and can be fitted with modular armor options (a-kit/b-kit), aligning with the U.S. Army's Long Term Armor Strategy (LTAS) for enhanced protection. At its core, it features a Caterpillar (CAT) C15 engine. This 15.2-liter, 6-cylinder inline water-cooled diesel engine is EPA 2004 compliant, delivering a robust 515 horsepower (384 kW). It boasts a significant payload capacity, rated at 9,100 kg, which allows for the efficient transport of fuel and other critical supplies.

For transmission, it employs an Allison 4500SP 5-speed automatic coupled with an Oshkosh enhanced 25,000 kg 2-speed transfer case, optimizing the vehicle's performance across varied terrains. The suspension system is comprised of Holland ADS-240 air suspension in the front and Holland AD-246 air suspension in the rear, ensuring stability and comfort over rough landscapes.

The M978 has a fuel capacity of 587 liters, supporting an operational range of up to 483 km when fully loaded. This range is crucial for extended missions without the need for frequent refueling. It can reach a maximum road speed of 100 km/h, allowing for rapid deployment and repositioning. Steering is facilitated by a power-assisted system on the front tandem, enhancing maneuverability and control in challenging conditions.

In the context of the ongoing conflict with Russia, fuel trucks, such as those akin to the HEMTT M978 model, are vital for the Ukrainian army, serving as the lifelines of mobility and operational sustainability on the battlefield. Given the vast expanses of territory involved and the dynamic nature of the conflict, these vehicles are indispensable for ensuring that tanks, armored personnel carriers, and other military vehicles remain fueled and ready for action. This capability is crucial not only for offensive operations but also for enabling rapid redeployment and retreats, thereby enhancing the tactical flexibility of Ukrainian forces.

Additionally, by extending the operational range of these units and reducing the reliance on fixed fueling stations, which are vulnerable to attacks, fuel trucks directly contribute to the operational security and logistical resilience of the Ukrainian military. Their role in sustaining prolonged engagements and facilitating maneuver warfare cannot be overstated, making them a key asset in Ukraine's efforts to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Defense News April 2024

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