The LAV III was born from a need for more mobility and speed in the field -- and design teams built it that way. But some think, to a certain degree, similar goals can be reached with existing heavy-duty platforms from original-equipment manufacturers. Vehicles like the Ford Super Duty, Chevy Silverado HD, Dodge Ram 2500, Chevy Suburban, and the powerful AM General Hummer all appear to be in the hunt for government contracts. (Of course, the Hummer has been and will continue to be a military standard.) Whether this makes sense or not, it does indicate an interesting exercise -- and the vehicles are incredibly cool. The trucks listed here include just a few.
If you like what you see here, check out our associated feature: "World Exclusive: GM Defense Stryker. Out on patrol in 8x8 Light Armored Vehicle" (LAV III)"
The Command Tahoe uses a Vortec 4800 V-8 for motivation and largely remains stock, with the exception of some added skidplating and Z71 options. GM Defense options include a custom front brush guard, rear and rear-pintle hitches, and vent hose filters on the transmission and differentials. Other customized, military-approved add-ons include a set of M16 and M14 weapons brackets, a 12/24-volt converter, and blackout lighting, the latter of which allows the vehicle to throw small amounts of light to the ground, without a large signature pick up from enemy thermal imagers. Estimated cost: $58,000
From GM Defense, this extreme, off-road, commercial utility cargo vehicle (CUCV III) Chevy Silverado has a 6-in. suspension lift, a Duramax 6600 V-8 turbodiesel, five-speed Allison automatic transmission, 35-in. run-flat (with beadlocks) tires, and night-vision. The bigger tires and extra lift give the Chevy 49-degree approach and 28-degree departure angles. Other available options from GM Defense include a 5000-watt AC/DC generator, high-output air compressors, and a bench-seat troop carrier for the pickup bed. Estimated cost: $65,000
The DaimlerChrysler participant in our military maneuvers was a 2500 Ram with an active air-ride system that uses Bilstein shocks. A CTIS system is controlled from inside the cab to provide tire-pressure adjustments based on terrain changes. The new suspension makes room for 35-in. tires that help give the Ram 40* approach and departure angles. Using the classic 5.9L Cummins I-6, the militarized Ram offers plenty torque, as well as a front brush guard and locking differentials. Estimated cost: $55,000.
This '99 Super Duty Crew Cab has a stock 7.3L Power Stroke turbodiesel with an enhanced frame to boost GVW 2000 lb by using various F-450 and F-550 components. CTIS, air springs at each corner (with load-leveling), and Hydro-Lok differentials (4.88:1 gears) help improve off-road ability. In addition, 37-in. tires enhance approach and departure angles to 40 degrees and 35 degrees, respectively. The electrical system is a combination of 12 and 24 volts with various outlets in the cab, engine compartment, and bed. An inverter provides 110-volt AC, as well. Estimated cost: $62,000
AM General Hummer
The Hummer has been the mobile-tactical vehicle of choice for the military for several years and will continue its contracts for several more. Standard versions include the 6.5L turbodiesel V-8, the original CTIS option, 37-in. tires, 10,300-lb GVW, and an amazing 63-degree approach angle. The AM General Hummer was the only vehicle of our group not significantly modified, because of its long-standing relationship with the military. Essentially, it was designed for them from the get-go. Still an impressive rig. Estimated cost: $90,000.