Cummins V903 Celebrates 50 Years in Service

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Photo above: Cummins V903 team, from left: Melina Kennedy (Executive Director – Rail & Defense); Keith Baylor (V903 Product Validation Manager); Tom Terkhorn (Manager – Defense Products); Andrew Stiles (V903 Chief Engineer)

One of the most enduring engines in Cummins’ long history, the V903, is celebrating a remarkable 50 years in service.

“Many engines have done the Cummins name proud, and prominent among these is the V903,” said Tom Terkhorn, Manager of Defense Products for Cummins Inc. “The first V903 crankshaft was laid at the Cummins Engine Plant (CEP) in Columbus, Indiana (USA), late in 1967, and since then the engine has progressed from 280 horsepower (hp) for truck use to its current peak output of 675 hp for military equipment.”​​

The V903 is an eight-cylinder ‘V’ configuration with a 903 cub​​ic ​inch (14.8-litre) displacement. Providing high power density, it has four valves per cylinder, is turbocharged and air-to-water aftercooled, and has a low pressure common rail fuel system.

Today, the V903 is produced primarily for military applications, notably the US Army’s iconic Bradley Fighting Vehicle, rated at 600 hp. In 2018, a 675 hp version will be installed in the upgraded Bradley ECP 2, Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle (AMPV) and Paladin M109A7 howitzer.

In actual operations, the V903 powered Bradley has showed a combat readiness of over 95 percent – the highest of any armored vehicle in the history of the US Army.​

The V903 was originally developed for the on-highway truck and construction markets to meet the requirements for a lightweight, compact diesel engine in the 280-320 hp range. It went on to make its mark in other applications such as recreational and commercial boats, mining equipment, and farm tractors.

An early image of Cummins’ V903 engine


The V903 began its life in the Bradley Fighting Vehicle in 1981 when Cummins upgraded the power level of the commercial truck engine from 350 to 500 hp with the addition of air-to-water aftercooling and upgraded fuel system.

Cummins moved the engine up to 600 hp V903 in early 1989 to maintain the Bradley’s mobility when its full combat weight increased to 60,000 lb as a result of added armor. The power boost was achieved using technologies developed for other Cummins products. Importantly, there were no changes to the length, width and height of the engine which had to fit into the Bradley’s notably tight powerpack compartment.

“Cummins conducted accelerated wear and abuse tests for final acceptance of the engine’s revised design and these showed that thermal and mechanical stresses of the 600 hp engine were actually lower than the 500 hp version,” said Keith Baylor, V903 Product Validation Manager.

“This meant the army could expect improved reliability and durability. Field performance of the 600 hp engine confirmed this initial expectation.”

Development of the 675 hp version of the V903 was completed in 2013 for the US Army’s Paladin M109A7 howitzer, and in 2018 it will be fitted in the upgraded Bradley ECP 2 and Armoured Multi-Purpose Vehicle (AMPV) which replaces the M113 armored personnel carrier.

Production of the V903 – both remanufactured and new engines – is carried out at Cummins’ Seymour Engine Plant in Indiana (USA).

“The V903 platform will continue to support the armored vehicle forces for decades to come,” said Tom Terkhorn.​​​


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