DSEI NEWS: Polaris Debuts Upgraded Ultralight Tactical Vehicle (Updated)

By Stew Magnuson

Polaris photo

LONDON — Polaris Government and Defense unveiled an upgraded version of its popular MRZR ultralight tactical wheeled vehicle on the first day of the DSEI trade show in London.

The MRZR family of platforms has been widely used throughout the world since its 2013 debut, and Polaris vehicles are employed by some 50 militaries.

The MRZR Alpha can carry a significantly larger payload than its previous models while still meeting the requirements to fit inside various aircraft such as the V-22 Osprey, Nick Francis, director of Polaris Defense, said in an interview Sept 14. The total payload has increased from 1,400 to 2,000 pounds while still carrying four passengers, he added.

To achieve the increased payload, the new version of the vehicle is eight inches wider and 800 pounds heavier than the previous model, coming in at 3,000 pounds curb weight. That is still within the requirements to be transported internally on a variety of aircraft, he noted.

It also features a flexible suspension system. The new “ride-height-leveling system” allows drivers to increase the clearance depending on the weight of the load.

“On a conventional suspension system, when you add payload to the vehicle, it does decrease your ground clearance. Obviously, when you hit rocks and other objects on the trail, you lose mobility,” he said. The new suspension system allows an operator to keep the clearance at 12 inches with loads from 300 to 2,000 pounds simply by hitting a button. In addition, when encountering logs, embankments or other obstructions, another button can give drivers 14 total inches of clearance.

New larger tires allows for better floatation and performance in mud and sand, he added.

The Alpha can be configured for two or four passengers, with 60 percent more cargo space when the seats are folded down. It retains the towing capacity of previous versions at 1,500 pounds. New engine efficiencies boosts the range at gross vehicle weight to 225 miles with a top speed of 60 miles per hour, according to a fact sheet.

A new on-board diagnostic interface gives mechanics real-time feedback on performance so they can pinpoint problems quickly, the fact sheet said.

Steve Canner, manager of Polaris’ European business, said the changes reflect what customers are demanding. The Minnesota-based company now has military customers in 29 European countries. The vehicles recently were accepted by the NATO Support Procurement Agency, which runs competitions based on new military requirements and gives its seal of approval to the winners. Countries can then order products “Amazon-style,” he said.

“That has opened up a whole new world because a lot of these countries don’t have budgets to run a big tender competition,” Canner said.

They see the MRZRs being used by countries such as the United States in military exercises, then call the company in Minnesota not even realizing Polaris has an extensive European footprint, he said.

Canner said the company had held off debuting the new model until live exhibitions such as DSEI returned following COVID-19 lockdowns. Trying to display a new vehicle at a virtual-only conference was a nonstarter, Canner said.

“It’s not until you see the old and the new vehicles side by side that you get the right perception of the changes,” he said. “Doing that on a screen just would not be as effective."

Correction: A previous version of this story misstated the number of militaries that use the MRZR family of platforms.

Topics: Land Forces

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