The US military is taking a step back in certain areas of vehicle choice for their special operations service personnel. Instead of the latest expensive huge armoured vehicles that we are used to seeing their troops travelling in, a coy decision has been made to “go low” and blend in with purpose built traditional 4×4 vehicles.
The choice of vehicles has been confirmed as the iconic Toyota HiLux, 70 series Toyota Land Cruiser and the Ford Ranger. All of these trucks are infamously used by insurgency groups and rebel factions to spread their fear tactics, so no better choice could be used to blend in.
The deal agreed by the US military is worth $170 million over five years with the option for a two year extension to take off the shelf Hilux pickups, Land Cruisers and Ranger pickups and fit them with armor, heavy duty suspension, upgraded brakes and wheels, run-flat tires and sophisticated communications and observation equipment.
The overall idea is to build a truck with inconspicuous looks to protect and allow communications between troops while blending into traffic in potentially hostile countries. Without doubt a clever way of helping Special Ops troops to move about without attracting attention, but enabling them to have the latest tech gear on board and a minimum level of protection.
Specialist vehicle conversion company, Battelle is going to provide all the materials, equipment, hard tooling, personnel, and facilities necessary to manufacture, fabricate, produce, and test the trucks and SUVs including special communications gear to be fitted.
The contract is for 556 vehicles, over two thirds of which Battelle would fit with armor. Uncle Sam is only interested in the rugged 70 Series Land Cruisers, rather than the higher spec models Toyota markets to American public in general.