The US Marine Corps has a new car to action America’s approaching wars. We assurance it off
On Tuesday 25 August 2015. A aggregation with an awkward name you’ve never heard of won a arrangement to body the best important car of the 21st Century.
On Wednesday 26 August, a Brit the aggregation had never heard of asked if he could accept a go in it.
Despite them actuality a bit busy, two canicule afterwards I had an email aback from Oshkosh Defence, the Wisconsin truckmaker that’d denticulate the $6.75 billion gig. “We’re assured some appeals adjoin the decision, so we’ll call you.”
I’m paraphrasing, but alone a bit. Fast-forward about three years, and Lockheed-Martin’s acknowledged claiming has been dropped, and the US Marine Corps has accustomed its aboriginal accumulation of Oshkosh Joint Ablaze Tactical Vehicles. Eight roll out of the annex a the west bank of Lake Michigan every day, bristles canicule a week. That’ll bifold in October.
Words: Ollie Kew / Photography: Mark Fagelson
You’re cerebration “that doesn’t attending abundant like a Humvee” – or HMMWV, officially. The Oshkosh JLTV is abundantly the backup for the iconic agent that’s completed tours of assignment in the aboriginal and additional Gulf Wars, Afghanistan, and took a pasting in the aperture arena of Iron Man. The Aerial Advancement Multipurpose Wheeled Agent – which exhausted the Lamborghini Cheetah to win the appropriate to action – has been in account aback 1984. And it can’t drudge it any more.
Pick any war area account address in the accomplished 20 years. You don’t apprehend tales of authentic battlefields. These canicule it’s convoying ambushes, accidentally detonated improvised atomic accessories (IEDs) and suicide attacks. The rules of assurance accept been obliterated. Now it’s blackmailer approach meets burghal insurgency. The Humvee, advised for apprehensive carriage assignment “inside the wire” – affable area – is a lumbering, aerial target. Fighting cars charge to be faster, tougher, cleverer.
As aboriginal as 2006, the US Army realised these unarmoured trucks were accepting annihilated, and as the casualties mounted, began retrofitting armour plating. Like any reconsideration mod, it wasn’t as able-bodied as a purpose-built set-up, plus, the Humvee’s asthmatic 190bhp agent V8 now had upwards of six tonnes to shift, instead of 2,400kg. Payload accommodation was erased. Abeyance biking disappeared. Reliability free-fell, ambit capitulated and the Humvee absent the adeptness to bisect asperous area afterwards abhorrent anyone adverse abundant to be aboard. Time for an honourable discharge.
Enter the Oshkosh JLTV. ’Murican ability with a (two-inch thick) windscreen, a abandoning camera, two cupholders and a bulletproof bark as standard. Wherever the US Army and Marine Corps are deployed amid 2019 and at atomic 2060, continued afterwards The Donald has tweeted his aftermost WITCH HUNT, you’ll see these monsters charging in afterwards the Air Force has unleashed hell from on aerial – with or without any animal soldiers aboard. For one day only, it’s allowable by Additional Lieutenant Kew.
Oshkosh carnality admiral and beard enthusiast George Mansfield strolls out of the annex aperture and pitches me the archetypal soundbite architecture brief: “The aegis of a ablaze catchbasin and the advancement of a Baja chase truck.” That’s not bravado. In this light-arms-resistant ‘A-kit’ form, the JLTV weighs 6.3 tonnes, which agency a Sikorsky CH-53 Super Stallion helicopter can elevate two at a time. The ‘B-kit’ armour is MRAP able – that’s Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected. They ysis that by active the JLTV’s angled base over a accumulation of explosives and lighting the det cord. Weight? Classified, but a abominable Sikorsky can alone lift one of those.
Dakar rally-conquering mobility, then? Yes, Sir. The JLTV’s abeyance is awful classified (the dampers are one of two areas we’re not accustomed to photograph in detail; the added is the interior) but the ambush TAK-4i abeyance has pedigree. Oshkosh activated it by aggressive in the 2010 Baja 1000. Afterwards 51 hours, they completed the 1,061-mile arid race: 4.5hrs too apathetic to be classified, but what a way to agitate bottomward your kit.
In accustomed ride mode, there’s 20 inches – that’s 508mm – of abeyance biking – the aforementioned as a Land Rover Discovery has, but, aback it raises to best lift, you could appealing abundant drive over the Disco. It’ll additionally broad to stoop into carriage aircraft. And the shocks can be allowable to arrangement or extend individually, so the JLTV’s berth will sit absolutely akin on a 45-degree acclivity – because it’s a lot easier to train your gun from a flat platform.
While the JLTV performs its sit-up-and-beg routine, I’m accustomed a comedy in the Humvee lying about for benchmarking. This is an unarmed, unarmoured example, appealing abundant absolutely what Arnold Schwarzenegger climbed out of, and for affidavit accepted alone to the Governor, said: “Yahh, accomplish me a noncombatant version, do it now.” It’s intergalactically wide, so the wheels run neatly in catchbasin tracks, but the roofline’s low to fit into cargo planes.
The four ed seats – bald blimp pads on metal plating – action beneath allowance than you get in a Ford Fiesta. It’s deafening, sweltering, and accelerates so lethargically, if the Earth rotated any faster it’d never leave the spot. How has the USA won any wars with this afford on its team? Oh. Good point.
George has apprenticed over from the boardroom in his aerial 6.6-litre Chevy Silverado to watch me off-road the benchmark. He’s grinning. I’m uneasy. Well, it’s taken three years and 4,000 afar to get here, so here goes.
This Humvee isn’t advised bottomward by armour plating, weapons or a crew, but it tackles a awful off-set bang advance like it’s arena ‘the attic is lava’. Great crashes convulse through the anatomy as the abeyance slams into its bang stops, arrant the car into the air. Imagine actuality bound in a fridge that’s caught in a nuclear blast, Indiana Jones-style. Aback my eyeballs eventually achieve aback into my skull, in amid the front-hinged beanie aerial about like a dodgy beard transplant, I briefly atom the Oshkosh aggregation amusement from the sidelines. Top acceleration beyond the angled course? A horrendously uncomfortable 7mph.
Before the new recruit tackles the course, I charge a) calibration the ancillary footfall and b) accessible the door, which isn’t at all heavy, if you’re acclimated to attention a medieval drawbridge. The doorskin’s animate plate, with inch-thick armour afraid from anniversary side. It takes two easily and a bottom anchored adjoin the abut to heave it accessible if you’re a on civilian, and I account a claret barge in my eye access affairs it shut.
Long afterwards The Donald has tweeted his aftermost WITCH HUNT, you’ll see these monsters charging in afterwards the Air Force has unleashed hell from on high
Shoulder sockets still creaking, the aing job is to aperture home the deadts that will authority the aperture in place, alike if it’s absolute off its hinges. It’s actually bombproof axial locking, via a big red handle from a Victorian railway arresting box. Autogenous photos are classified, but I am accustomed to alarm it. Like the Hummer, it has alone four seats, but these are adequate thrones, with cutouts in the backrests so soldiers can settle in afterwards removing bulky rucksacks. It’s dark. Everything’s black, and the windows are portholes. It’s eerily quiet too, cloistral from the apple in this balloon of toughness.
Sticking out in the anguish is a accepted Chevy auto gearlever affiliated to the aforementioned six-speed auto and 6.6-litre V8 agent as George’s truck. It generates 340bhp, and has been able with new filters and accouterments to blot rancid conflict-zone ammunition attenuated with debris and water. Front and centre lives the best advantageous touchscreen of any car today, because what it lacks in graphical whizzbangery it makes up for with giant, clear card tiles. Ideal aback you’re driving. Handy aback you’re beneath blaze and accept a gun belvedere to adjust.
The V8 starts on a on. Its hum is muted, drowned out by the abetting generator’s shrieking whine. Then, artlessly aperture it into Drive and let the torque booty over. Aboriginal things first: aim it beyond the account bumps that bent the Humvee. The newbie cruises over at 30mph. Did I absence the bumps? Visibility is appealing appalling. Let’s go again.
It’s absurd. This is the best-riding car I’ve anytime driven. The caster biking is enormous, but the way it damps such behemothic chastening of metal and elastic flailing about is uncanny. No Rolls-Royce, no McLaren… annihilation damps bumps like the Oshkosh. Whatever you hit, nothing’s accustomed to afflict the calmness of the berth abridged which floats along, and I apperceive this is a antic chat here, so gracefully.
Emdened, I annex off into the dupe and advance a rock advance modelled on the comet in Armageddon. The JLTV glides beyond it like it’s a golfing green. You apperceive how you consistently doubtable the aggressive gets the best new tech first, and it’s hidden from the public, like GPS, alarm or microwaves? Here’s your latest example. Bump- and bomb-proof abeyance that self-levels, squats and smooths area so base Bear Grylls wouldn’t backpack over it.
I admiration if it’s somehow ecology the avenue advanced and pre-loading anniversary shock. As if they’d acquaint me. George does affirm they’re alive on free ‘drone’ JLTVs, that could be unmanned decoys, accumulation trucks and emergency back-up. It’s fast enough: bound to 70mph but it’ll get there alert as fast as the Humvee reaches 50mph.
I alone get two attempts at the baptize burst afore the JLTV empties the gulley. This apparatus can attack through bristles feet of baptize – alert what its antecedent could manage. It goes 50 afar added on a tank, and 4,000 added afar amid services. Its aliment costs and ammunition accumulation are projected to save the US aborigine $8.3bn over the JLTV’s entire life-cycle.
I assumption it’s hardly baby to be addled by a weapon of war, but the Oshkosh is innocent of the superpower backroom that’ll arrange it about the world. It aloof gets on with its job of acquisition area with impunity, and befitting account cadre aboard safer than any ablaze action agent in history. So it’s apparently the best important new car you’ll applause eyes on today. And one hopefully not audition the alarm of assignment a you any time soon.
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