Armor: Combine a Dune Buggy And An MRAP And You Get...


July 14, 2014: An Israeli defense firm (IMI) is offering a new take on armored vehicles. Its CombatGuard vehicle is a cross between dune buggy (a fast all-terrain vehicle favored by commandos) and MRAP ((Mine Resistant Ambush Protected). CombatGuard is a 4x4 vehicle with 1.37 meter (54 inch) tires and independent suspension. With a meter of ground clearance it can go places that few wheeled vehicles are capable of handling. CombatGuard can do this at higher speed than tracked vehicles and then really accelerate on flat ground.

The eight ton CombatGuard was designed like an MRAP (to resist mine and roadside bomb explosions) and comes in many configurations. One allows it to carry eight troops while others can be rigged as ambulances or armed with a remote control gun turret. Unlike MRAPs CombatGuard can handle all sorts of terrain that an MRAP cannot enter (or even try to because of the risk of tipping over). CombatGuard has appeal to troops who are in Special Operations or recon units. These vehicles are priced like MRAPs so it’s likely to remain a niche item. Nevertheless there is a market for a vehicle like this, for border patrol as well as countries with rough patches in their geography and equally rough people out there. 

While Israel will probably buy a few CombatGuard vehicles, most of their transportation needs are supplied by more traditional designs. Normally, the Israeli ground forces use the Sufa (Storm) all-terrain vehicles. These are two ton, militarized versions of the Chrysler Jeep Wrangler. Sufa 1 appeared in 1990, with Sufa 2 showing up in 2005, and Sufa 3 in 2011. There are several versions (command, recon, armored) and the design has been optimized to deal with all the unique types of off road terrain encountered in Israel. While smaller than the American Hummer, the Sufa is more suitable to Israeli needs (which largely consist of policing hostile Palestinians). The Sufa 3 is 4.5 meters (14.7 feet) long and 1.68 meters (5.5 feet) wide.

In contrast the heavier Hmmwv (hummer) is 4.6 meters (15 feet) long and 2.1 meters (7.1 feet) wide. Israel does have some hummers. The withdrawal of American forces from Iraq, and the wide use of larger MRAP armored vehicles in Afghanistan left the U.S. with a lot of relatively new and little used hummers, even after many had been used to equip Iraqi and Afghan forces. Back in 2012 Israel took advantage of this and bought 2,500 slightly used HMMWV (Humvee) vehicles. Most were placed in reserve, to be used in wartime, or a major military emergency. Aside from getting these vehicles cheap, Israel also sometimes has need for these larger (than Israel's standard motor vehicle of the same type) vehicles. For one thing, a hummer can carry more and be used as a mobile command post, or carrier of heavy weapons or bulky electronics. The hummer can also be equipped with armor. An Israeli firm developed and makes some of the most popular hummer armor kits, and sold a lot of them to the United States for use in Iraq and Afghanistan.



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