The Special Operations community often moves in a circular motion when it comes to adopting and employing new weapons, equipment, and vehicles.
Take for instance the US Army's bouncing from the 7.62 round, then forcing 5.56 down NATO's throat, before now swinging back in the other direction with Rangers and Special Forces making good use of the 7.62 SCAR-H. Light infantry maneuver tactics grew out of the Vietnam War before the Army gradually moved towards heavy armored vehicles and burying soldiers under undue amounts of body armor.
Today, SOF units in Afghanistan are now moving back towards lighter combat loads and unarmored, but highly mobile, tactical vehicles.
Currently, Army Special Operations is seeking to identify a new Ground Mobility Vehicle to replace the Humvee. USASOC put out the word some time ago that it was looking for a SOF specific all-terrain vehicle that seated four troops to include the turret gunner.
At the moment Jeep and Flyer are the two front runners competing for the contract. Jeep has submitted it's entry based on it's new J8 platform. Initially having constructed a prototype Light Patrol Vehicle, Jeep responded to inputs from the SOF community to create a new truck to suit the requirements of the units involved.
In the beginning, one of the stipulations around this project was that the vehicle be compatible with the VTOL capable, V-22 Osprey. Finally, this requirement was given the chop in favor of seeking a platform specifically compatible with the MH-47 helicopter preferred by Army Special Operations teams. Jeep has reportedly accomplished this task, however it pushed the entire project back by six months.
Flyer meanwhile, appears to be somewhat behind the power curve, submitting it's own entry into the fray with an engine that soldiers are finding to be overly complicated. Reports state that if the Flyer entry were to break down in the austere environments that SOF units operate in that the vehicle would have to be returned to the United States for repairs.
Pictures and additional details of these vehicles are not yet forthcoming, but we will be keeping an eye on this project for future developments.
Kit Up! contributor Jack Murphy is a former Ranger and Special Forces Soldiers and the author of the military thriller Reflexive Fire.