Textron Marine and Land Systems’ M1117 Guardian Armored Security Vehicle (ASV) provide better mine and ballistics protection than the Hummer, coupled with an armored turret that offers both mounts for advanced sensors, and firepower overmatch via a .50 cal machine gun and 40mm grenade machine gun combination in its turret. It’s a classic revival of the armored car segment, which had fallen into disuse but has begun to attract interest again.
The vehicle has traveled a lot of difficult roads, both inside and outside of combat. The US military was backing away from the project, until Iraq came along and military police adopted the 3-man vehicle. Textron had to undo production line shutdowns and rehire skilled talent, and they were just hitting their stride when Hurricane Katrina flooded their only factory in New Orleans. Textron’s offering definitely provides more land mine protection than a Hummer, but heroic efforts were required to get it up and running again. When the US military finally got serious and began buying MRAP vehicles, however, the stretched M1117 ICV failed the tests and was removed. This was actually the vehicle’s second competition loss, following Iraq’s selection of the Cougar-based ILAV Badger as its mine-resistant vehicle. American MPs continued to order the vehicle, however, and an artillery-spotting variant known as the M707 Armored Knight also picked up a few contracts. A small order came in from the Bulgaria, but the USA remains the vehicle’s sole customer of note.
That may be about to change, however, due to a formal request from… Iraq. One that has now been expanded.
Dec 10/08: The US DSCA announces [PDF] Iraq’s formal request to buy 400 M1117 Armored Security Vehicles (ASVs), as part of a larger $1.11 billion order. The announcement represents a serious expansion of Iraq’s plans for the M1117, as the July 2008 request featured only 160 vehicles. See “Iraq: Looking for LAVs in All the Right Places” for more re: the Stryker purchase.
This order is specifically for Iraq’s National Police (INP):
“The proposed sale of the Stryker ICVs, along with the munitions and support vehicles, will be used to develop a viable police force…”
The INP currently operates some M1117 ASVs and South African designed REVA mine-resistant vehicles in its sole mechanized brigade; it also has a battalion of about 50 Ukrainian BTR-94s donated by Iraq’s neighbor Jordan. DJ Elliott of The Long War Journal points out that the Iraqi National Police already have 4 mechanized battalions, and 800 vehicles (400 x M1126, plus 400 x M1117) would equip 20 more. At 4 battalions per brigade, and 3 brigades per division, that’s 2 mechanized divisions of INP.
July 24/08: The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency announced [PDF] Iraq’s formal request to buy:
* 160 of Textron’s M1117 Armored Security Vehicles
* 160 M2 .50 caliber Machine Guns to equip the turrets
* 160 Mk19 MOD3 40mm automatic grenade launchers to equip the turrets
* 160 Vehicular Radio Systems from Harris Corp.
* 4 Heavy Duty Recovery Trucks to help pull damaged or stuck M1117s out of trouble
* All associated support, spare parts, and training required for initial fielding.
These vehicles will not displace the Badger in its MRAP role, but recent success in Iraq will allow them to operate performing the same kinds of local patrol and convoy lead duties undertaken by American MP vehicles.
U.S. Government and Contractor technical assistance will be required in association with the sale, but was not defined in the DSCA request. The usual practice is to have American units on the scene who use the same equipment help support their Iraqi counterparts, until the Iraqi unit is ready to operate on its own. Some contractor assistance is usually involved in that kind of process, but it’s difficult to tell exactly how much until the final arrangements are made.
The estimated cost is $206 million, but the exact amounts will be negotiated in the relevant contracts.
* The Long War Journal (Aug 4/08) – Iraqi Security Forces Order of Battle: August 2008 Update. Overall analysis of Iraq’s recent purchases, which include tanks, LAVs, helicopters, infrastructure et. al., and their likely destinations.