When it comes to ground vehicles, U.S. Special Operations Command is embracing the notion that lighter is better. SOCOM wants platforms that can traverse difficult terrain and deliver special operations forces to their targets quickly, sacrificing armor protection for greater mobility.
Toward that end, the command will jettison much of its heavy fleet, according to officials.
“We’re basically on a mission to divest ourselves of most of those vehicles,” said Duke Dunnigan, deputy program manager of the family of special operations vehicles at SOCOM. “We’re looking at more ultralight and depending more on speed and agility versus armoring up so much that the suspensions don’t last long and I can’t negotiate the terrain.”
The command has about 3,000 vehicles in its inventory. By the middle of next year, the number of mine-resistant ambush protected (MRAP) vehicles and their off-road variant, the M-ATV, will drop from 519 to 280. Those remaining in the fleet will be reconditioned through 2016, according to Dunnigan.
Armor is also being removed from other vehicles at Letterkenny Army Depot in Pennsylvania.
“We’re taking all our up-armored heavy Humvees and we’re basically sending them through the line and they’re coming out ultralight vehicles,” Dunnigan said at this year’s Special Operations Forces Industry Conference in Tampa, Florida.