Anti-Aircraft “Gun Trucks” in Iraq
U.S. Army infantry divisions and armored cavalry regiments are equipped with mobile anti-aircraft vehicles called Avengers, HMMWV jeeps with a turret mounted on the back. The turret contains a FLIR (Forward Looking Infra-Red) sight, a laser range finder, 2 missile pods with 4 Stringer anti-aircraft missiles each, and a M3P .50 caliber machine gun under one pod.
In their Avenger configuation, however, the machine-gun can’t always depress enough to fire towards the front of the vehicle at ground targets. As they deployed to Iraq, the 3rd Cavalry Regiment decided to change all that…
The 3rd Cavalry Regiment persuaded the Army to send 6 engineers to Kuwait, in order to modify their 8 Avenger systems for use as convoy escort gun trucks when they entered Iraq. In 2 days, the engineers removed the right missile pod, replaced it with the vehicle’s .50 caliber machine-gun, took the missiles out of the left pod, and made some changes to the fire control software. The machine-gun can now fire in any direction, at any elevation, with an ammo capacity of 600 rounds instead of 250. The two-man crew of the Avenger can now use their FLIR and laser range finder to provide accurate long range .50 caliber machine-gun fire day or night. The Avengers are expected to be particularly useful at night.
It should be noted that converting air defense guns into ground attack platforms is hardly a new development. As the demands of asymmetric warfare and military action in failed states continue to put pressure on global militaries, however, it’s very possible that these kinds of dual-use capabilities may start to become a design specification, rather than a field innovation.
- Boeing (Feb 7/11) – Versatile Vehicle. Boeing develops the Avenger Adaptive Force Protection Solution, which swaps a 25mm cannon for the .50 cal machine gun, and can quickly switch out a Stinger pod for weapons that include Hellfire light strike missiles, 70mm guided or unguided rockets, a laser pod, or 2 AIM-9X Sidewinder anti-aircraft missiles.
- Boeing Frontiers (July 2005) – Boeing team gives troops in Middle East extra firepower
- Air Defense Artillery Magazine (April-June 2005) – See PDF of Magazine Issue. A number of articles cover the operational experiences of Avenger units in conflict zones, including firefight descriptions.
- StrategyPage (May 9/05) – Turning Avenger into a Gun Truck