July 29, 2016, by Rachael Everly – The Columbus, Ohio-based armored vehicle supplier, Battelle, was recently awarded a new $170 million contract to build Non Standard Commercial Vehicles (NSCVs) for the U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM).
“Battelle has a proven track record of performing sophisticated systems integration for military and commercial applications,” said Fred Byus, vice president of Battelle’s Mission and Defense Technologies business. “Under this contract, our vehicle systems team will execute on its custom designs and integrate complex systems to meet mission requirements – at a competitive cost.”
According to Military Aerospace, the deal includes modifications and alterations for up to 556 vehicles (396 armored and 160 unarmored) over the next five years – with an optional two year extension. At around $300,000 each, the new modified vehicles will come in at about half the cost of the heavy, IED-resistant Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles that were sent into Iraq and Afghanistan.
The aim is to create modern war vehicles and military machines by altering common civilian vehicles. These versatile and discrete military machines, also known as “technicals” are already used the world over.
While adapting light duty trucks to war may be a new strategy of the United States military, they’ve already shown up in wars around the globe. In many war situations, available weapons get attached to any available vehicles, including Toyota pickups. In fact, Sudan’s Military Industry Corporation even specifically makes modified gun-carrying trucks for sale and export.
Technicals are so common that there is even a Twitter account dedicated to them.
Covert military vehicles have a strategic edge in combat operations due to the fact that they are both powerful and discrete – they don’t stand out as military vehicles. Until the shooting starts, in fact, they just look like most any other civilian vehicle.
The Battelle commercial-style armored ground vehicle team will take existing vehicles, and re-engineer them with protective armor and other features. According to the Battelle press release, alterations will include stronger suspensions for rugged terrain operations, and enhanced alternators to withstand extreme climates.
The U.S. Military is better known for its extreme $600 billion budget, its most advanced and expensive technical equipment, stealth fighters, and bomb-resistant troop carriers. However, it appears that this order to test out a few hundred modified Toyota Hilux, 70 Series Toyota Land Cruisers, and Ford Rangers marks the move of special operations forces to enter the pickup truck era of warfare.