Armor: Afghans Upgrade


August 19, 2010: The United States is buying 2,526 M1152 hummers for the Afghan police, at a cost of $245,000 each. This vehicle is a variant of the latest hummer model (the M1151) that has a truck bed in the back, so that more personnel or cargo can be carried. the M1151/2 is built to handle the additional weight of armor protection. The key changes in the M1151/2 are a stronger suspension and a larger engine (a 6.5 liter turbo-diesel). This allows the vehicle to easily handle an additional 1,500 pounds of armor. More importantly, the armor is easily installed, or taken off. This allows the hummers to operate more efficiently without the armor. The M1151/2 also has some armor underneath. This is not a lot of protection against mines and roadside bombs, but the Taliban prefer to use these weapons against foreign troops. Afghan police mostly get hit by gunfire and RPGs.

Five years ago, the U.S. bought the Afghan security forces over 5,000 unarmored Ford F 350 SORV (Severe off road vehicle) pickup trucks. These four wheel drive vehicles are based on Fords F 250/350 commercial pick up, which has been the best selling line of pickup trucks in the U.S. since the 1980s. These Afghan trucks were built in a Ford factory in Thailand. The SORV was provided in five variants, (cargo, emergency response, personnel/tactical and personnel/command trucks, maintenance van). The SORV truck comes with a diesel engines (about 300 horsepower). Costing about $40,000 each, the 4.5 ton vehicle can carry about two tons of personnel and cargo, and tow up to eight tons. It has a 38 gallon/150 liter fuel tank. Depending on the version, the SORV can seat up to eleven people. Afghans are accustomed to cramming as many people as they can into pickups and SUVs. The Afghans will probably also mount weapons on some of the SORVs, and give these vehicles a workout that Ford engineers never imagined.

Many armed forces, especially those on a low budget, use commercial vehicles, particularly the Ford F-250/350. The Irish army uses SORVs for recon units. In Afghanistan, the Ford, and other pickups, are very popular (especially if they are four wheel drive). Equipping the Afghans with the SORVs, instead of hummers, meant the Afghans got familiar vehicles at less than half the price of a regular hummer, and less than a fifth the price of the M1152 hummer. But the Afghan security forces need armored vehicles for many areas in the south, where the Taliban are most active.




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