PARIS -- A British company took the classic Jeep Wrangler and militarized it in hopes of selling it to foreign armies unveiling its special forces variant Monday here at Eurosatory 2012.
Jankel started out selling sports cars in the 1950s and then specialized limousines to the ultra rich until 15 years ago when their clientele started dying off. Since then, they've entered the military market and haven't looked back.
The company partnered with Chrysler, builder of Jeep, in 2008 to help it sell the iconic American Jeep to foreign armies. Now, they look to challenge Mercedes Benz and Land Rover to supply Europe's armies with their future tactical wheeled fleets. It's Europe's answer to America's Humvee.
Jankel's hope is that European armies squeezed by shrinking budgets will look to the cheaper Jeep versus Mercedes Benz. Ghana and Uruguay have already bought variants of the Jeep J8 family of vehicles for UN missions.
Switzerland has started to test Jankel's personnel and cargo carrier variant. Jeep J8 features six variants to include the light patrol and border patrol; personnel carrier; cargo and communications; military armored; ambulance; and pickup/chassis cab.
The Jeeps feature seats U.S. soldiers should recognize. Jankel's has installed their blast limiting attenuation seats into vehicles like the Oshkosh Mine Resistant Ambush Protected All Terrain Vehicle the U.S. Army drives in Afghanistan.
The special forces variant called the Pegasus is the sexiest member of the family. It is named after the Pegasus Bridge crossing the Caen Canal the British 6th Airborne Division wrenched from the Germans in the invasion of Normandy in World War II. Lets just say Newman might have met a different fate at the end of Jurassic Park if he was driving this Jeep variant with two .50 caliber machine guns mounted to the Jeep's roof and backseat.
Pegasus was built to load inside a CH-47 Chinook with the ability to unload it in 15 seconds. The Jeep is powered by a direct injection, common rail, turbo charged, intercooled diesel engine. The 24 volt electrical system features one NATO jump socket with two USB sockets.
Pegasus built the frame to fit inside the Chinook. The frame is 201 inches long, 79 inches wide, 72 inches tall with an 11 inch ground clearance. It has a curb weight of 6,610 pounds and a potential payload of 3,310 pounds.
The off road capabilities of the Pegasus have been beefed up to take on the stress of a special operations capability set. It can scale a 60% gradient and a 40% side slope with the driver only.
Pegasus can carry four special operators and maybe a fifth in a pinch. Unit commanders can add an extended range fuel tank as well as underslung airlift solutions.
Lorne Stoddart, a commercial manager for Jankel, said they have targeted seven countries interested in Pegasus. He offered Holland as an example of one country who will have requirements to buy a vehicle like Pegasus.
Andrew Jankel, Jankel's chairman, said his company chose not to bid for the U.S. Special Operations Command's Ground Mobility Vehicle program because of the constantly changing requirements. He would prefer to let the BAE Systems and General Dynamics of the world fight that out.
Of course, if Congress can't get its act together and avoid sequestration, then all bets are off and U.S. special operators might soon find themselves inside the Pegasus.
-- Mike Hoffman