Armor: Commandos And ATVs

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June 12, 2016: Since 2008 U.S. SOCOM (Special Operations Command) has been buying more and more MRZR2 and MRZR4 ATVs (all-terrain vehicles) for their operations in remote areas. The main reason for this is that the manufacturer (Polaris) pays attention to user feedback and reacts quickly. This was especially useful for SOCOM and often a matter of life and death. SOCOM does not release data on how many ATVs (or most other equipment) it buys but annual orders for MRZRs have increased steadily and total purchases so far have been over 4,000 vehicles.

The MRZR2 is a 1.1 ton (loaded with nearly 450 kg of fuel, passengers, and cargo) 4x4 vehicle. It is 3 meters (9.1 feet) long and has no doors, two seats, and a steel framework on top of which is usually left open for maximum visibility. The vehicle is optimized for cross country operations and has an 88 horsepower engine. Fuel capacity is 7.25 gallons (27.4 liters) and range depends on what sort of terrain is being crossed.

The MRZR4 is a larger MRZR2 that weighs 1.5 tons (loaded with nearly 700 kg of fuel, passengers, and cargo) and is also a 4x4 vehicle. It is 3.6 meters (11.8 feet) long and has no doors, four seats, and a steel framework on top which is usually left open for maximum visibility. The vehicle is optimized for cross country operations and also has an 88 horsepower engine. Fuel capacity is 7.25 gallons (27.4 liters) and range depends on what sort of terrain is being crossed. Both MRZRs can tow a load of up to 680 kg.

ATVs have proved particularly useful, and popular, in Afghanistan, especially for special operations forces. There are many models in use, all of them militarized civilian vehicles. These vehicles are innovative both in original concept and how they are constantly modified and upgraded. The latest innovation is the use of non-pneumatic tires. The non-pneumatic tires are not solid like traditional tires but built with a web of plastic honeycomb and surrounded by a thick band of rubber that is very similar to the tread found on pneumatic tires. These tires can survive a hit by a 12.7mm (.50 caliber) bullet and keep going. They feel about the same as pneumatic tires, although some users report they are not as effective in mud or watery surfaces.

The ATVs have been so popular that many troops have bought them when they get back home and use them for cross-country trips (for camping, hunting, or just sightseeing). The army has bought some of these ATVs for use by troops just returned from Iraq or Afghanistan. It's the kind of high-excitement recreation that has been found to help the troops decompress after returning from a combat tour.

 


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