With all the risks taken by the men and women of the United States Army, we guess a few perks are in order. While driving a HMMWV on maneuvers is certainly a thrill, check out the Army's latest tricked-out military wheels: the COMBATT 4x4.
The military's objectives for the COMBATT are strictly logical: build a safer, better-performing military 4x4 with a focus on the fast adaptation of civilian production trucks to wartime needs - all at a lower cost to taxpayers. This truck development program, dubbed COMBATT, COMmercially Based Tactical Truck, is sponsored by the Army's National Automotive Center, is managed by Veridian-ERIM International and includes participants from General Motors, DaimlerChrysler, and Ford Motor Company.
While the concept of using civilian-based trucks in a military application isn't new, the Army saw such trucks as the COMBATT as a targeted solution to a problem with their million-vehicle fleet. Many trucks in the current fleet are 20-plus years old and need to be replaced. By modifying commercial trucks for general military use - including cargo and troop transport - more of the expensive HMMWVs could be sent to the front lines of a conflict. Furthermore, using trucks such as the COMBATT in a military situation will help the Army maintain a modern, mission-ready fleet while reducing the cost of developing and producing a military-specific truck.
There's an additional reason the Army has been giving such vehicles as the COMBATT a lot of thought: leasing. Yeah, that's right; in theory, the Army could lease an F-350 COMBATT, use it, then trade the used trucks in on new models. Army spokespeople believe the slightly used - and well-maintained - trucks would be an ideal vehicle for loggers, mining companies, surveyors, rural fire fighters, and for countries with an undeveloped road system, based on the upgraded equipment installed on the 4x4s.
Speaking of upgrades, the Ford F-350 Super Duty Crew Cab COMBATT trucks are stout: The chassis and suspension has been structurally enhanced to handle a gross vehicle weight of 12,000 pounds, and its axles and differentials are the largest and strongest available. The suspension's high-performance dampers are electronically controlled, and the suspension uses both traditional steel springs and adjustable airbags. The 37-inch-diameter tires are run-flat style, with a central tire inflation system ( l the Hummer). The onboard air compressor is routed to the airbags and the tires, so the COMBATT's ride height, tire pressure, and ride quality are automatically set according to whatever varying surface conditions the COMBATT encounters. We told you it was trick.
There's more: The COMBATT sports an onboard computer and GPS navigation system, a night-vision system, and a powerful electrical system that's capable of providing 12-, 24-, and 110-volt power. A special winch mount allows the winch to be rapidly mounted to either front or rear. The COMBATT is capable of fording 30-inch-deep water, can operate in temperatures from 50 degrees below zero to 120 degrees Fahrenheit, will climb a 60-percent grade, and can negotiate 40-percent side slopes.
If the Army's idea of leasing the COMBATT trucks from Ford works out, you could be seeing these rugged 4x4s on a used-car lot in the future. Given the popularity of Ford's civilian Super Duty 4x4, we can see the COMBATT Super Duty being a huge hit with enthusiasts looking for a way-rugged F-350.