Magazine article National Defense

Battelle to Upgrade Pickup Trucks for Special Operations

Magazine article National Defense

Battelle to Upgrade Pickup Trucks for Special Operations

Article excerpt

COMBAT VEHICLES

* As the Defense Department pinches pennies, the military increasingly is choosing to modify commercial off-the-shelf products instead of building a new system from the ground up.

Such is the case for special operations forces, who in the next few years will be driving around in souped-up pickup trucks.

The General Services Administration in April awarded Battelle a blanket purchase agreement to strip down commercial trucks and outfit them with armor and a stronger suspension. The company will also upgrade the vehicles' tires and communications systems.

The contract has an estimated value of $58 million over three years. The make and model has not been chosen.

Work could start as early as this summer, with fielding in 2014, said program manager Jim Labine.

A purpose-built pickup truck will likely become a requirement for special operations forces in the future, but the lower cost of a modified commercial vehicle is appealing in this fiscal environment, he said.

"The OEM [original equipment manufacturer] vehicles, because they were never made to basically carry that much weight, they don't last nearly as long," he said. …

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