Military Tires and the Resurgence of the Retread

TIRE GUYThe US Department of Defense's tremendous consumption of tires has created enormous stock piles of used military tires. Previously, discarded military tires were sold, but, this has now decreased, causing costs of disposal to increase dramatically.

Most states in the US have banned whole tires in land fills.

The US military diverts all of its waste tires from disposal sites, but doing so is expensive. To eliminate stockpiles and reduce the costs associated with those stockpiles, the US military has implemented tire retreading programs.

The current tire supplier for the US military is Michelin. Michelin has been managing the US military’s tire program for some time and their latest contract includes all wheeled vehicles at all US Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine bases worldwide.

Defense Supply Centre

The Defense Supply Centre in Columbus Ohio, known as DSC-C, is the largest US Defense logistics agency. It works in conjunction with TACOM, the DOD’s designated manager for all ground vehicle tires. TACOM policy promotes retread use.

TACOM’s retread policy applies to tires for tactical and administrative vehicles. It includes tires for trucks, buses, light trucks, passenger vehicles, and other ground vehicles.

All US Federal Agencies are required to purchase retread tires unless they are not reasonably available, do not meet performance needs, or are not competitively priced.

TACOM has determined that retreads are reasonably available for many tactical and non-tactical applications. They are cost competitive and meet the performance requirements for many vehicles.

By purchasing retreads, the Department of Defense saves money, protects the environment, and complies with the law. Although retreads may not be practical in all applications, a large percentage of heavy vehicle and aircraft tires are commonly retreaded.

DSC-C will decide what tires are appropriate for the US military’s vehicles. Michelin manages, supplies, stores and distributes the tires and it is setting itself up as a one-stop-shop for the military’s tire sourcing needs. Michelin will not only use their own stocks, but will also locate the best tire options for the US military through competitive subcontracting. You can get Michelin tires online at  The Tire Rack.

The DSC-C selection of the tire for the Humvee is a good example of the gains to be had. The BF Goodrich Baja T/A has several advantages over the previous preferred tire in several key areas. Weight carrying capacity, ability to perform evasive maneuvers, projected life of the tire, wet and dry handling on pavement areas and mud traction are all superior to the previous choice.  (BF Goodrich Tires are sold online by The Tire Rack.)

Michelin will provide aviation and land vehicle tires for all military branches throughout the world. Vehicles include the Humvee, HEMTT, Stryker Light Armored Vehicles, as well as other light vehicles.

The US military has to cut costs like any other organization, this is the nature of continuous improvement systems worldwide. The current logistical system includes a strong quality assurance program, but more specialized operations within the military can encounter gaps in the suitability of tires. This is common for any organization attempting to maximize efficiency and make compromises to save money.

Today the majority of military vehicles travel on paved roads, so the tires are radials and treadwear ratings play a key role in selection.

With tire waste being a growing issue, we can expect to see more importance being given to retreading by large and small organizations.


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