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Textron Shops Protective Humvee 'Capsules' Abroad

With the U.S. Army and Marine Corps focused on acquiring a new Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, Textron Inc. is pitching Humvee upgrades to customers abroad.

The company's Marine & Land Systems unit is shopping a blast-resistant passenger capsule for the Humvee to countries that have come to use the iconic vehicles over the past decade.

"We're focused on all of the tens of thousands of vehicles all around the world, nations that have had Humvees provided to them as excess defense equipment from the United States or that they may have acquired otherwise, that have been in conflict or are soft-skinned or under armored. Those are our first targets of opportunity" for sales, said Michael Gelpi, vice president of land systems for Textron.

Though the Army and Marine Corps are not currently in the market, he said the Marine Corps has conducted more than 23 blasts test on the system that have shown it to improve survivability.

"Not only do we get survivability up … but we're restoring the mobility and the performance aspects at the same time" with the upgrade kits, he said.

Gelpi said Textron began work on the capsule, called the Survivable Combat Tactical Vehicle, anticipating the Army and Marine Corps would opt for upgrades to their fleets. That was about seven years ago. But when the ground-fighting forces made the JLTV its priority, the domestic military market for the upgrade fell through.

In the meantime, though the Defense Department began gifting or selling off excess Humvees to other nations, including Iraq -- where so many were deployed over the past decade -- as well as Egypt, Israel and, closer to home, Mexico and Colombia. In some cases, the governments of those countries began building their own versions under licensing and did their own upgrades.

Gelpi said the company is currently installing the SCTV into three Colombian Humvees. The vehicles themselves are made by AM General LLC.

"We'll be finished with those at the end of the year, in December, and the Colombians will be able to use them and try them and really wring them out to see if they like them or not," said Gelpi, who added that the business in Colombians will likely spur additional sales elsewhere.

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