US military considering modified Toyota Land Cruiser, Hilux, Ford Rangerby Ben Hsu
The trucks will be made to look stock but resistant to small arms fire.
The US military may place an order worth $170 million for field vehicles based on the Toyota Land Cruiser and Hilux, as well as the Ford Ranger.
As reported by Andrew P. Collins of Jalopnik, the order comes from the U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) and consists of "as many as 556 vehicles—396 armored and 160 unarmored—with most of them consisting of the Toyota Land Cruiser models 76 and 79."
The Land Cruisers are all based on the 70-Series, a model that was introduced in 1984 and never sold in the US. However, it has proven popular in many remote areas of the world and is still sold as new in many countries. In fact, the model was so popular that in 2014 Toyota re-released the 70-Series in Japan for a limited run.
According to Military Aerospace, the Hilux and Ranger pickups are also models that are sold overseas. SOCOM wants them to look stock, but will have, beneath the sheetmetal, reinforcements to the body and frame, armor, a beefier suspension and tires that can withstand small arms fire. In addition, Collins writes that the trucks would be made available with "infrared lighting, night vision, military communications and recon equipment (C4ISR), a 'blackout mode' that presumably kills all lights."
Prototypes will be built by Battelle, a defense contractor based in Ohio, and if they pass muster during testing SOCOM would presumably option the full $170 million order.
The US military using Toyota vehicles is nothing new. US Marine Corps 70-Series Land Cruisers have been active since at least the first Gulf War, and many examples of the original Land Cruiser was built in Japan for US use during the Korean War.