Armor: June 11, 2003


While airborne troops are trained to walk a lot on the battlefield, and haul their gear on their backs, this can become counterproductive given the large amounts of supplies that have to be brought in and distributed. To solve that problem, the U.S. Army got themselves a diesel powered golf cart called the Military Gator, or M-Gator. It's a militarized version of a civilian product, made by the John Deere company. At 1450 pounds, the two seat vehicle is nine feet long and five feet wide. It's six wide tires allow it to travel over really sloppy ground, which is a design feature that makes the Gator a major advance over previous vehicles of this type. The M-Gator can carry 1250 pounds and is small enough that up to three of them can be carried by a CH-47 helicopter without removing the troop seats.  The 18 horsepower engine allows for speeds of up to 28 kilometers an hour. The M-Gator was tested extensively from 1996-2000, and large purchases began in 2000. The 18th Airborne corps has over 700 of them, and the special operations forces (SOCOM) have many (they are not saying how many) as well. The M-Gator costs about $14,000 each (the less well equipped and sturdy civilian versions cost $6,000 each.) The military version has a mount for a machine-gun, extra electrical outlets and lots of other mods for military use. However, troops have noted that the M-Gator is noisy, low to the ground and slow. But it goes some 300 kilometers on one tank of fuel. The M-Gator was first used in action during the Afghanistan campaign. It was popular with the troops, but the abundance of sharp rocks cut up the Gators tires (as it did the boots of American soldiers) and the 18 horsepower engine had a hard time with all the hills. There were also some other maintenance problems which resulted in a number of proposed modifications for the vehicle. 


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