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In 1776, George Washington’s troops trekked through heavy snow and across the icy Delaware River to help win the Revolutionary War. Later in 1812, Napoleon lost thousands of troops and equipment for the same reason when invading Russia. Today, the military still carries out important missions in harsh winter weather. 

However, it faces new challenges.

The military must not only keep themselves safe in the cold but also maintain the operational readiness of their vehicles. After all, military vehicles play a major role in many modern military operations. Unless protected against intense cold by suitable vehicle storage solutions, these vehicles can freeze-up — rendering them useless and compromising mission readiness and critical operations.

Engineered fabric structures are a great solution for quickly creating military vehicle storage solutions that can withstand harsh winter weather conditions and protect military vehicles from freezing temperatures.

How the Cold Freezes Military Operations

Cold weather can quite literally freeze military operations. Freezing temperatures have a direct impact on many aspects of military vehicles, including the following:

  • Additional wear-and-tear on vehicle components
  • Decreased battery performance and storage capacity
  • Impaired and slower vehicle maintenance 

Vehicle Components

First, cold weather impacts the materials that military vehicles are made up of, including the following:

  • Metal
  • Rubber / rubber-covered cables
  • Tires
  • Plastics

In extremely cold temperatures, metals tend to contract. Where multiple types of metal are involved, they contract at different rates. This may seem like a minor inconvenience. But in truth, these small differences can cause major problems.

For example, meshing gears, bearings, and shafts inside vehicles can be made up of different kinds of metals. If the metals have different contraction properties, vehicle operations can malfunction, or their engines won’t even start up.

In addition to changing shape, vehicle components also become brittle and break in the cold. In fact, metal, rubber, and even synthetic rubber all become brittle when they reach temperatures below minus 20 degrees Fahrenheit

For these reasons, military vehicles often need to be thawed before they can actually be used. For instance, unprotected ICV Stryker vehicles can take up to two days to thaw when left in freezing temperatures. During this thawing time, troops are left without a vehicle — forcing a delay in operations and decreasing operational readiness.

Battery Performance

Even if a vehicle does not completely freeze, the cold still has a negative impact on vehicles’ batteries. 

At room temperature, the current delivered from battery storage to start the engine is at full capacity. However, as temperatures drop, the available energy in a vehicle’s storage battery sharply decreases. In extreme cold temperatures, it may become impossible to produce a large enough current to start the vehicle.

Worse still, if batteries become completely frozen, they can rupture and break, causing them to leak acid or other dangerous chemicals as they thaw out. 

Speed of Vehicle Maintenance 

Being able to maintain military vehicles and equipment is essential in any setting. However, in the cold where equipment is particularly vulnerable to disrepair, quick and effective maintenance is essential. 

Unfortunately, the cold can stifle the speed of important maintenance activities. In fact, maintenance can take five times longer than usual in temperatures below minus 20 degrees F

In part, this is because military personnel need to thaw out equipment before making repairs. It is also a direct result of the cold’s impact on military personnel themselves. Even the most routine maintenance activities can become a challenge when they need to be done with gloves on since many tasks still require a tactile feel that wearing gloves prevents. 

A proper military vehicle storage solution, like those from Alaska Defense™, can help military personnel avoid vehicle damage and prevent delays in maintaining military vehicles to support important military operations. 

Finding the Right Military Vehicle Storage Solution

To find the right protection for military vehicles, military leaders should focus on these key requirements:

  • Temperature-controlled facilities
  • A durable structure to withstand harsh winter weather (high winds and heavy snow loads)
  • Buildings equipped with vehicle exhaust systems
  • Plug-and-play lighting and electrical systems 

Temperature-Controlled Facilities

As explained above, controlling the temperature of the military vehicle storage facility is an extremely important consideration for protecting mission-critical vehicles and equipment. It will also play a huge role in speeding up the maintenance of military vehicles.

A vehicle storage facility that is insulated and equipped with environmental control units (ruggedized military HVAC systems) is essential to maintain interior temperatures above freezing and keep maintenance staff, vehicles, and equipment safe.

Choosing Durable Structures Designed for Winter

In addition, military vehicle storage facilities must also be capable of withstanding heavy snow loads and high wind speeds that are typical with severe winter weather. A sturdy structure designed to meet specific wind and snow loads will prevent winter-associated damage to your vehicles and will also minimize the time needed for facility maintenance. 

Consider a Building System Equipped With a Vehicle Exhaust System

Since many vehicle storage structures also serve as a shop for vehicle maintenance, a vehicle exhaust system should be installed. This will protect personnel by safely extracting any vehicle exhaust and gases from the military vehicle storage facility.

Plug-and-Play Lighting and Electrical Systems

Military operations don’t stop just because the sun is no longer shining during the day. Many important missions are carried out in the veil of darkness. 

Militaries needing to maintain operational readiness, especially in the limited daylight hours of the winter months, need military vehicle storage facilities equipped with energy-efficient, bright lighting and electrical solutions to create a safe working environment. 

The Best Military Vehicle Storage Facilities for Combatting Cold Weather

What are the best military vehicle storage facilities for troops to use in very cold and winter conditions?

Military-Grade Tarps

One storage solution sometimes used to protect military vehicles is military-grade tarps. Tarps do a “quick and dirty” job at keeping moisture away from military vehicles. They are portable and easy to pull over a vehicle.

But military-grade tarps also have many major drawbacks:

  • They do not regulate the temperature of the military vehicle to keep above freezing.
  • Personnel need extra time to remove snow and ice from the surface of the tarp before removing it and attempting to start the vehicle.
  • They do not offer a sheltered space to conduct vehicle maintenance.
  • Most “military-grade” tarps claim to be a heavy-duty tarp that will last years. The reality is that these are similar to what can be purchased at your local hardware store. These aren’t designed for prolonged use in extreme heat or winter weather conditions.

Traditional Brick-and-Mortar Structures

An old-fashioned brick and mortar structure is another option; however, military operations are often conducted in remote locations. Building a brick-and-mortar structure is rarely feasible. 

Traditional buildings will take considerable time to build and cannot be easily removed when the mission is complete. Transporting the materials needed to construct a military vehicle storage or maintenance facility using traditional methods is also cost-prohibitive.

Using Fabric Structures for Military Vehicle Storage Facilities 

Modern military vehicles call for modern military vehicle storage solutions. And engineered fabric structures from Alaska Defense offer just that. 

Engineered Fabric Structures for Military Vehicle Storage

Engineered fabric structures provide many benefits over simple military tarps and traditional building materials.

Temperature-Controlled Vehicle Storage Facilities

Engineered fabric structures are the superior choice when it comes to creating temperature-controlled vehicle storage facilities to help support military operations.  Engineered fabric structures from Alaska Defense are a weatherproof building solution designed to protect vehicles from extreme hot and cold temperatures.

Military HVAC units like the Alaska ECU® will keep the interior temperature above freezing. The Alaska ECU® is designed to seamlessly integrate with any Alaska military shelter system.  For an additional energy-saving option, military vehicle storage facilities can be equipped with EnerLayer®, our proprietary and supplemental insulation solution.

Custom-Designed Military Vehicle Storage Facilities

Alaska Defense allows you the choice of many different military shelter systems and the ability to custom-design an engineered fabric structure to meet specific vehicle storage and maintenance facility requirements. 

For instance, you can choose from multiple entry options for any Alaska 40’ Shelter System. This makes it simple to provide the needed clearance to move vehicles in and out of your storage facility.

Plug-and-Play Lighting and Electrical Systems

Military vehicle storage facilities from Alaska Defense can include an easy plug-and-play lighting and electrical system. So, your vehicle storage solution will be well-lit and provide the necessary power options for maintaining military vehicles around the clock. 

Our lighting and electrical systems are available in both 50 and 60 Hz configurations. For self-contained vehicle maintenance facilities, we can equip your Alaska military shelter system with power distribution systems and generators.

Vehicle Exhaust Systems for Fabric Structures

Not only does Alaska Defense design and engineer military shelter systems to meet any operational requirement, our vehicle and maintenance facilities can be equipped with vehicle exhaust systems to safely remove harmful fumes while operating a vehicle inside the structure. 

Engineered Fabric Structures Offer Easy Setup, Portability, and Low Maintenance

Best of all, engineered fabric structures are easy to install, disassemble, and relocate when the needs of military operations change. 

Military vehicle storage facilities from Alaska Defense require minimal tools and foundation requirements, allowing untrained soldiers to quickly establish a safe space protected from harsh winter weather where vehicles can be stored and maintained. When operational needs change, the military vehicle storage facility can be relocated or stored to support future missions. 

Military Fabric Structures Designed for Long-Lasting Durability

Our highly relocatable building solutions are ideal for meeting any military requirements, including vehicle maintenance and storage facilities. 

Military shelter systems from Alaska Defense are engineered for incredible durability. We use the highest-quality materials, latest manufacturing techniques, and strict quality control processes to ensure every military shelter given the Alaska Defense name will withstand 100 repeated setup and strike cycles for unmatched long-lasting durability. 

Contact Us Today for Military Vehicle Storage Facilities 

Alaska Defense manufactures the world’s most popular military shelter systems. Contact us today to discuss the military vehicle storage facilities needed to support your operations.

Telephone: +1-910-323-0562

Toll-Free: +1-888-370-1800


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