SOCOM Plans to Buy More Non-Standard Commercial Vehicles

By Jon Harper

U.S. Special Operations Command intends to buy more non-standard commercial vehicles for missions where special operators need to blend in with their environments, according to a top acquisition official.

The main NSCVs in use now are the modified Toyota Landcruiser and HiLux.

“It’s all about low visibility because these vehicles are being put in areas where we don’t want to advertise a strong military presence,” Duke Dunnigan, deputy program manager of the family of special operations vehicles at SOCOM, said in May at the Special Operations Forces Industry Conference in Tampa, Florida. “If the vehicles look like other indigenous vehicles in the areas, that allows our SOF operators the ability to do their mission without having to have a lot of attention drawn to them.”

In the fourth quarter of this fiscal year, the command will be putting out a request for proposal to acquire armored and unarmored non-standard commercial vehicles, he said. He estimated that the contract for approximately 300 vehicles would be worth about $75 million to $80 million. SOCOM will also be looking to acquire command-and-control and communications suites and other military accessories for the platforms, he said.

Battelle and Navistar had their latest NSCVs on display at the conference.

Battelle, already under contract with SOCOM, unveiled its new armored Landcruiser 79 Series model. Arthur Horinek, manager of vehicle systems engineering at the company, said the upgraded suspension enables the vehicle to be “fully armored” while meeting the command’s requirements for off-road performance. The company also enhanced the alternator system to give special operators “enough power to run all of their equipment,” he said.

Navistar displayed its Special Operations Tactical Vehicle-B. The SOTV-B was designed from the ground up to look like a small pickup, said Kevin Thomas, president of Navistar Defense. The vehicle is protected from ballistic threats by an “armored shell” and has a beefed-up suspension similar to those on off-road vehicles that compete in the Baja 1000 off-road race, he said. Panels have been added to the outside to give the vehicle “blendability.”

“Just by changing the panels you can change the look and [make it] look like any pickup from any brand,” Thomas said.

SOCOM has bought four of the vehicles, and Navistar is in the process of upgrading them based on initial feedback from the command, he said.

Topics: Business Trends, Doing Business with the Government, Procurement, Special Operations-Low Intensity Conflict, Land Forces

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