Military Using Inflatable Tank Technology

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CAAT TankThe number of industries now using inflatable technology has risen over the past decade, especially because the applications for inflatable material seem unending. As we have discussed in this blog, the primary user of inflatable equipment (aside from rental inflatable companies) seems to be the medical and safety community, which has found a number of ways to utilize inflatable tech as a way to further research and protection. Just last week, we talked about the Army’s development of an auto-inflating life jacket that reacts to a boater’s falling into water. Well, it seems that the military is using inflatables for more than just safety reasons.

A story from NBC News looks at the usage of inflatables in marine activity, especially that of Captive Air Amphibious Transporters (CAAT). Put plainly, CAATs are floating delivery vessels which primarily carry supplies across water. From NBC News:

“The inflatable tanklike treads of the Captive Air Amphibious Transporter (CAAT) can separate into flat panels to push on the water like a paddleboat. That enables the CAAT to not only swim, but also to crawl across sandy beaches, mud, ice fields and even sea walls — making it ideal for delivering cargo or troops in harsh conditions following a mega-disaster such as an earthquake or tsunami.”

The article says CAAT was developed with aid relief in mind, just like the parasailing robots which were also developed by the military. Calling the CAAT a tank isn’t entirely accurate, even though the inflatable treads seem to have the same design as ground tanks. These treads help the 2000-lb vehicles float on water and move swiftly on land as well. Aside from the weight, the most surprising part of the CAAT is its portability when not in use:

“Just as importantly, the CAAT consists of parts that can be taken apart and stored inside of standard cargo containers — the same ship containers that carry everything from TVs to iPads across the world’s oceans.”