Perhaps no single vehicle is most identified with the military than the iconic Jeep Wrangler. Its legacy began with the Willys MB, a light utility vehicle developed for the US Army for use in WWII and instrumental in the Allies' victory, and later modified for the civilian world. After a years-long hiatus, the Wrangler may soon be headed back to the battlefield – with a few modifications. Word is that US Army officials are in talks with Charlotte, NC-based Hendrick Dynamics, an offshoot of the NASCAR racing team Hendrick Motorsports to make use of its modified Wrangler dubbed the Hendrick Commando, pending awarding of the Commercial Off-the-Shelf (COTS) vehicle contract.
With a few modifications from the US version of the Wrangler, the Commando potentially could offer an inexpensive and lightweight option for unarmored vehicles that can more easily be airlifted into remote locations than the heavier, bulkier and costlier rides currently used. Also, the Commando replaces the Wrangler’s standard 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 with a 2.8-liter diesel four built by VM Motori and designed to run on any type of diesel fuel or JP-8 jet fuel. This serves to maximize the Commando’s deployment versatility and comply with the Army’s Single Fuel Mandate of 2012, which requires US forces to use only one fuel while deployed. As designed the Commando also allows for modular attachments needed for specific jobs. Available attachments include machine gun mounts, radar arrays, counter-mine rakes and advanced communications equipment.
Thus far, Hendrick has build 14 prototypes, including the two-door Commando 2 based on the standard Wrangler; the four-door Commando 4 based on the Wrangler Unlimited; and the Commando 4, a pickup truck conversion. If the company secures the COTS contract, it could mean a full-circle for the iconic Jeep.
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