The US military operates a wide range of vehicles for a wide variety of needs and operations. While everyone is familiar with the most famous M1 Abrams tanks and the Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle, the military has a lot of lesser known support vehicles. Some of these are basically desert ATVs while some are glorified Land Rovers and still others are military grade bulldozers.
It doesn’t matter if you are thinking of the Army or the Marines, organizations this large need a wide variety of logistics and reconnaissance vehicles and often for very different environments. Most vehicles are designed and manufactured in the United States, but some are of foreign origin. Here are eight US military vehicles you’ve never heard of.
8 Light strike vehicle
Sometimes military vehicles can be really badass! Referred to as the Light Strike Vehicle, this vehicle is essentially a sophisticated go-kart in the desert. The LSV is an upgraded version of the Desert Patrol Vehicle and is used by the Army, Marines, and Navy, as well as a bunch of other armies around the world.
The Light Strike Vehicle is popular among special forces for its small size and high mobility. It is used for reconnaissance, spotting, hit-and-run raids, and low-intensity guerrilla combat.
7 M88 recovery vehicle
The M88 recovery vehicle is used by the US military and currently comes in three variants; the M88, M88A1 and M88A2 Hercules, with the M88A3 Hercules still under construction. While obviously wanting to allude to the mythical strength of the Greek Hercules, HERCULES ostensibly stands for Heavy Equipment Recovery Combat Utility Lifting Extraction System.
This armored recovery vehicle had a very long career in the United States Army, with the first variants being built in the 1960s. It has been used in dozens of wars and engagements since then.
6 RG-31 Nyala
A slightly unusual fact about the RG-31 Nyala is that it is actually a vehicle made and designed in South Africa. This infantry mobility vehicle is versatile and mine resistant.
Another anecdote of the RG-31 is that it has become the vehicle of choice for the UN and other peace and security forces around the world. It is appreciated for its performance as well as its non-aggressive appearance.
5 Buffalo (mine protected vehicle)
Manufactured since 2003, the Buffalo has been used in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is an Ambush Protected Anti-Mine Armored Military Vehicle (MRAP) and is actually based on a South African anti-mine vehicle – the Casspir anti-mine vehicle.
One of the distinguishing features of the Buffalo is its 30-foot robotic arm and iron claw. It is equipped with sensors and a camera and is designed to clean and dispose of various prescriptions and other dangerous ammunition. The United States operates approximately 650 vehicles and a limited number are in service with other armies around the world, including the British and Canadian armies. The Buffalo is designed to accommodate up to six crew members.
4 Civil Engineer Armored Combat M9
The M9 Armored Combat Earthmover (ACE) is essentially an armored bulldozer. It is designed to provide technical support on the front line and is capable of assisting in the construction of combat positions, the repair of roads and the removal of enemy obstacles.
The M9 is very versatile. It is amphibious, armored and very mobile, it has the ability to both doze off and scratch.
3 Replacement of the logistics vehicle system
The Logistics Vehicle System Replacement (LVSR) consists of a family of heavy military logistics vehicles. They are designed with three variations and are capable of carrying heavy loads for the US Marine Corps.
The replacement of the logistics vehicle system can be a cargo, tow truck, or tractor truck variant – with the cargo variant by far the most common. The LVSR has been in service since 2009 and now the Marine Corps operates approximately 2,000 of these heavy vehicles.
2 Infantry squad vehicle
Based on the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2, the Infantry Squad Vehicle (ISV) is used by the US military. It carries up to nine soldiers and is just starting to enter military service now.
The US military plans to purchase over 2,000 ISVs and this is a reminder that not all army vehicles are heavily armored main battle tanks.
1 Ranger Special Operations Vehicle
The Ranger Special Operations Vehicle or RSOV is essentially a Land Rover Defender adapted for the 75th Ranger Regiment of the United States Army. Sometimes they just like to give their vehicles fancy names.
Designed as a fast defensive platform, they were purchased after American soldiers saw the British in their Land Rovers during the Gulf War, noting how Land Rovers fared in desert conditions.
The US military has many vehicles for a variety of tasks and operations. Not all are heavily armed, and some perform the more mundane day-to-day functions of the military, such as logistics and general transport of people in low-intensity situations.
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