Germany’s Armed Forces have taken delivery of their first Mercedes-Benz Unimog tow tractor. Tom Allett reports.
On June 8, 2011, Germany’s Armed Forces Fleet Service (BwFPS) took delivery of its first airfield towing vehicle based on the Unimog U 300 implement carrier.
This variant of the Unimog U 300 has a 121-inch (308cm) wheelbase and is powered by a Mercedes-Benz OM 904 LA diesel engine that produces 130kW (177hp) and is compliant with EURO 5 emission standards.
Mercedes-Benz claims that its special torque converter clutch: “provides jolt-free starts”.
The manufacturer also states that the Unimog has already proved its suitability as a towing vehicle for jet-propelled aircraft and helicopters during several tests with Germany’s forces. It is capable of moving free-wheel aircraft with a total weight of up to 30 tonnes, and Mercedes-Benz states that its: “low height of only 2.79m [9ft 2ft]” and its slanting front windscreen enables it to tow helicopters. The manufacturer says that one of the vehicle’s selling points is its deep-drawn panorama cab windows, which provide the driver with: “an outstanding view” of the front tow bar or other front-attached items. Its turning circle measures only 40ft (12.22m) and, Mercedes-Benz says, its limited towing speed of 6.2mph (10km/h), its jolt-free starts and “wear-free driving are strong arguments in favour of the Unimog”. All these features, the manufacturer claims, together with its ergonomic design, provide an “extremely cost-effective operation” for the Armed Forces.
Another plus point for the Unimog U 300 is that it is able to do much more than just tow aircraft. It is also designed to push or pull a multitude of other armed forces equipment. For example, it can remove snow from, or simply clean paved surfaces by using a front-mounted snow blower/sweeping unit. It can also accommodate an aircraft de-icing trailer if required.
Though no figures have yet been released, it is understood that more Unimog airfield towing vehicles are due to be delivered to German and Italian military airfields on an “as required” basis.