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Top 10 Light Utility Vehicles


   Which is the best light military vehicle in the world? Which is the greatest military jeep-style vehicle and why? There are hundreds of various light utility vehicles that are being used for military service. Some of them are commercial designs, just repainted in military colors. The others are purpose-built tactical vehicles, that where specially designed for military use and operation in forward areas. The light utility vehicles are used to carry troops, staff, supplies, evacuate wounded soldiers and for other roles.

   Key factor for this Top 10 analysis are production numbers, how widespread is the specific light utility vehicle. How many countries use them. Other important factors, such as payload capacity, cross-country mobility, reliability are also considered.

   This Top 10 list includes only operational light utility vehicles. It do not includes vehicles that are being developed or received no production orders.

   Currently Top 10 military light utility vehicles in the world are these:



Top 10 Light Utility Vehicles

Nr.1 HMMWV (United States)


   Currently the High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle, or HMMWV, is the most widely used military light utility vehicle in the world. It was designed by the AM General. Its production commenced in 1981. Initial batch of these utility vehicles was delivered to the US Army in 1983. It replaced in service the M151 series jeeps and some other US military vehicles. Eventually the HMMWV became the vehicular backbone of the US forces. Over 160 000 of these light utility vehicles were built. The HMMWV is in service with more than 50 countries. Its production still continues. Furthermore numerous clones, copies and international variants of these vehicles are being built all over the world.

   The M998 is a baseline vehicle of the HMMWV family. It was designed primarily for personnel and light cargo transport. It is powered by a Detroit Diesel 6.2-liter diesel engine, developing 130 hp. Engine is mated with an automatic transmission. The HMMWV was designed for use over all types of roads. All-wheel drive, high power-to-weight ratio combining with high ground clearance give it good cross-country mobility. A wide track was designed to drive in tracks left by the main battle tanks. Vehicle is fitted with a central tyre inflation system, which is adjusted from the driver's station to suit various terrain conditions.

   This vehicle is air transportable and droppable from a variety of military transport aircraft. It can be carried underslung by some helicopters.

   In 1996 production of the M1114, an improved and armored variant, commenced. Armor of this vehicle provides protection against small arms fire and landmines. This variant is fitted with a larger and more powerful engine.

   There are over 20 variants of the HMMWV in service with the United States. These include troop/cargo carriers, ambulances, armament carriers, TOW missile carriers, shelters, prime movers and so on. Some of the variants are armored. A civilian version of the HMMWV is the Hummer H1.



Which is the best light military vehicle?

Nr.2 Land Rover Defender (United Kingdom)


   The Land Rover Defender entered production in 1990. Between 1983 and 1990 a similar utility vehicle was produced by Land Rover, but it was simply known as the Land Rover 90, -110, or -127. Only in 1989, with the introduction of a civilian Discovery model, Land Rover company decided to name its utilitarian off-road model the Defender in order to avoid confusion. The Defender light utility vehicles are in service with the British forces and are widely used around the world. Each year approximately 8 000-9 000 of Land Rover light utility vehicles were produced, and sold for military operators worldwide. The Defenders are manufactured in some countries, including Australia, Malaysia and Turkey. Production of the Defenders ceased in the UK in 2016. Jaguar Land Rover company announced their intention to launch a "new Defender". However it might be a totally different vehicle.

   The Land Rover Defender is available in various models, such as 90, 110 and 130. The number in the designation is a length of wheelbase in inches. All Land Rover vehicles come with a number of options, including open top with folding windscreen, or roll-over bar, additional fuel tanks. These military vehicles can withstand the most demanding off-road conditions. Vehicles carry troops, equipment or communication systems, depending on the role. Defenders are also used as weapon carriers, mobile workshops, shelter carries, ambulances, or light recovery vehicles. There are a number of armored versions of this vehicles, as well as open-top special forces vehicles.

   The General Service (GS) are the baseline Defenders with an open top, covered by a canvas cover. Such vehicles are capable of carrying 8-14 troops, depending on the model. There are also used to tow light artillery pieces. The FFR version with an all-metal body is often used as a mobile command post or signal vehicle.

   All Land Rover Defenders have a NATO standard towing jaw and are capable of towing a trailer with a maximum weight of up to 4 t.

   The Defenders are powered by 2.5-liter petrol or diesel engines, developing from 68 to 111 hp. There is also a more powerful 3.5-liter V8 petrol engine, developing 134 hp. Gearbox and transfer is standard across the range of military vehicles. The Land Rovers are popular for being easily maintained in the field, as only tools required to service these military vehicles are often just a hammer and a few spanners.



Top 10 light military vehicles

Nr.3 Mercedes-Benz G-class (Germany)


   The Mercedes-Benz G-class is also referred as Gelandwagen, G-Wagen, G-Wagon. In the German Army service it is known as the Wolf. The G-class was developed in the early 1970s as a military vehicle from the ground up. Production commenced in 1979. Since its introduction the G-class is also available for civilian customers as sport utility vehicle. This military vehicle was constantly improved. In 1990 the redesigned G-class replaced the Volkswagen Iltis in the German Army service. Later it replaced the Iltis with Canadian Army. Currently the Mercedes-Benz G-class is still in production. It is in service with more than 60 countries. Each year 4 000 to 6 000 of these vehicles are produced both for military and civil customers. In some countries it is manufactured under license.

   The Mercedes-Benz G-class was developed for tough terrain conditions. It is available in various body styles and various wheelbase lengths. It is available with hard or open tops. It is also used as shelter carrier, ambulance and communication vehicle. A 6x6 model is also available for certain markets. Some vehicles have turret rings and are armed with machine guns or automatic grenade launchers. A light armor kit can be fitted in field conditions. Specially designed armored models are also available.

   The payload capacity of the G-class is about 500-1 500 kg, depending on the model. It can also tow light trailers or artillery pieces.

   Since its introduction a number of petrol and diesel engines have been fitted. Both manual and automatic gearboxes were available. Older vehicles have a selectable four-wheel drive. Modern G-class utility vehicles have a full-time all-wheel drive. This military vehicle made its reputation for reliability and ruggedness.

   The French Peugeot P4 military vehicle is a license produced version of the G-class, fitted with French engine, transmission and has a reshaped body. There is also another French Panhard VPS vehicle for special forces, which is also based on the G-class.



Best light military vehicle

Nr.4 UAZ-469 (Russia)


   The UAZ-469 was introduced in 1973. It was specially designed to fulfill military roles. The UAZ-469 was widely used by the Soviet military, as well as civilians. This vehicle was exported to around 70 countries worldwide. Over 2 000 000 of these light utility vehicles were produced. An updated variant, the UAZ Hunter, is still in production. Currently it is the only vehicle of its class, in service with the Russian Army.

   This robust off-road vehicle is simple in design and technology. Its simplicity allows for easy maintenance and repairs. Vehicle has an open-topped body with a soft canvas cover and detachable door tops. It is a very capable 4x4 vehicle, which can drive on any terrain.

    The UAZ-469 has a payload capacity of 800 kg. This off-road vehicle provides seating for the driver, plus 6 passengers with 100 kg of cargo, or alternatively one passenger and 600 kg of cargo. It can also tow trailers or light artillery pieces on cross-country terrain with a maximum weight of 850 kg.

   Vehicle is powered by a commercially available UMZ-452MI 2.45-liter petrol engine, developing 72 hp. A diesel engine is also available. Vehicle has a full-time all-wheel-drive. It is worth mentioning, that civilian version was not as capable cross country terrain.

   The UAZ-3151 is an improved version, produced since 1985. It is powered by new engines. The UAZ Hunter is the current version with some minor improvements, produced since 2003.



Best light utility vehicle in the world today

Nr.5 Toyota Land Cruiser (Japan)


   The Toyota Land Cruiser first appeared in 1953. It is not a purpose-designed military vehicle, but rather a commercial 4x4 vehicle, intended for civil market. However due to its unsurpassed reliability, durability and great off-road performance it is widely used by various military and paramilitary units, non-governmental organizations and militant groups from all over the world. The Land Cruiser was built in impressive numbers. Since its introduction in 1953 around 4 million of these vehicles were produced by Toyota. These vehicles were and still are license-produced in some countries, such as Columbia, Malaysia and Venezuela.

   The Land Cruisers are very popular in Africa, Middle East and South America. The 1980s war between Chad and Libya was named the Toyota War because of the heavy use of Land Cruisers by both parties.

   These pickup trucks are used to carry weapons and supplies. The Land Cruisers are often converted into improvised fighting vehicles, armed with heavy machine guns, mounted on a tripods. These improvised combat vehicles are called "technicals". Also there are numerous improvised modifications, fitted with anti-aircraft guns and missiles, anti-tank missiles, recoilless rifles and even artillery rocket systems.

   Currently the most often encounter models, used by military and paramilitary users, are the 70 series Land Cruisers. Production of the 70 series vehicles commenced in 1984 and still continues. Though over the years a number of modifications were made to these vehicles. Model 73 has a mid-length wheelbase, while the model 75 has long wheelbase. The model 77 is another long wheelbase version. In 1999 production switched to updated model 78 and 79.

   Most 70 series Land Cruisers were produced with either a two-door pickup body, or a two-door station wagon body. There is also a four-door pickup body, as well as armored versions. There are even dedicated light armored personnel carriers with fully enclosed armored hulls, based on model 79 chassis. These are Minerva Special Purpose Vehicles Panthera T6 and Streit Group Cougar.

   The current production Land Cruiser model 79 is powered by a 4.2-liter turbocharged diesel engine, developing 170 hp. Also there is a 4.5-liter diesel developing 202 hp, and 4-liter petrol, developing 227 hp. Engine is mated to a 5-speed manual transmission. There are different fuel tank sizes, so actual range of the vehicle varies depending from the engine type, body type, wheelbase length and so on.

   Toyota continued development and production of the Land Cruiser. Eventually 80, 90, 100 and 200 series appeared. However these luxury vehicles were intended for civilian market and lack off-road performance of the 70 series. These vehicles are more suited for non-frontline and paramilitary units, that operate in the rear echelon. The only exception was a 105 series which was a capable off-road vehicle.

   There is another pickup from Toyota, the Hilux, which is also used by various non-frontline and paramilitary units, as well as governmental organizations and militant groups. This light commercial vehicle is smaller than the Land Cruiser and has inferior cross-country performance. Though it is also favored by various military and paramilitary users due to its durability and reliability. It is suitable for non-tactical roles. The Toyota Hilux pickup is available with a two-door, or four-door cab.



Most capable light military vehicle

Nr.6 Pinzgauer (Austria)


   The Pinzgauer was developed in Austria by Steyr-Daimler-Puch. This all-terrain vehicle was specially designed to meet military needs. Production commenced in 1965. Eventually it proved to be a very successful design. Since 1986 the original Pinzgauer was replaced in production by improved Pinzgauer 716 (4x4) and 718 (6x6) series vehicles. Currently the Pinzgauers are in service with many military users from all over the world.

   In all their forms the Pinzgauers have been produced in a bewildering array of models with hard or soft-tops, equipped for carrying either passengers or cargo. Some versions have provision to carry weapon systems or communication shelters. There are also command versions and some examples were used to carry 20 mm anti-aircraft guns. Ambulance versions with special panel bodies have been manufactured.

   All Pinzgauers have an excellent cross-country performance due to their high ground clearance and short wheelbase.

   Recently a Pinzgauer II has been developed. This new-generation vehicle is available only with 6x6 configuration. It is larger and has more internal volume. Also it has increased mobility, payload, performance and protection. However so far this version received no production orders.



Top 10 light military vehicles in the world

Nr.7 Beijing BJ2022 (China)


   The Beijing BJ2022 is a Chinese light utility vehicle. It is also referred as "Yongshi" or Brave Warrior. It was jointly developed by Beijing Auto Works and Chrysler. A concept vehicle was revealed in 2002. Chinese Army got very interested in the project, as it was looking to replace the ubiquitous BJ212 and BJ2020 light utility vehicles. So a couple of prototypes were made specially for the Chinese army. Eventually it has been adopted. Production of the the BJ2022 began in 2005. Deliveries to the Chinese Army began in 2007. In 2009 due to financial troubles in the US the Chrysler left the joint venture and granted Beijing Auto Works the rights to continue production of this vehicle under its own name. Currently the BJ2022 is being produced in large numbers. It is the most widely used 4x4 vehicle in the Chinese army. It is also used by some paramilitary and law enforcement units. China produced around 500 000 units of BJ212, BJ2020 and BJ2022 series military vehicles.

   The BJ2022 is based on a Jeep Cherokee, but is longer and wider. The new vehicle is larger and more spacious than the older BJ2020. It is used as a troop and cargo transport, command vehicle or reconnaissance vehicle.

   A baseline BJ2022 has a fully-enclosed 4-door body. This vehicle has a 500 kg payload capacity. It carries 5 soldiers, including the driver. Windscreen can be folded over the bonnet and top and side windows removed in order to reduce vehicle height. It has a trailer hitch and can tow light trailers or artillery pieces with a maximum weight of 500 kg.

   Other body types are also available. There are 4-door vehicles with open top, 2-door vehicles with hard top, 2-door pickup, and possibly some other. Some of them can carry up to 8 men, including the driver. These vehicles have 500 kg or 750 kg capacity, depending on the version. Payload capacity corresponds with the towed load. A lightly armored version has also been developed.

   This vehicle is powered by a 3.2-liter turbocharged diesel engine, sourced from Nissan. It developed 140 hp. Civil versions are also available with a 2.7-liter petrol engine, also sourced by Nissan. Vehicle is fitted with a front-mounted self-recovery winch.



Which is the best 4x4 military vehicle

Nr.8 IVECO 40.10 (Italy)


   The IVECO 40.10 is an Italian military vehicle, that fits the gap between light utility vehicles and light trucks. It is in service with the Italian Army. This vehicle is license-produced in some countries.

   The IVECO 40.10 has a payload capacity of 1.5 t and is used for a variety of tactical roles. It can be configured in a number of ways. It can also tow light artillery pieces and trailers. There is a whole host of variants.

   Driving cab is usually fitted with a soft top, however hard top is also available. Cargo compartment is of all-steel construction. It has folding seats along each side for 10 men. Windscreen can be tilted forward to reduce height.

   The IVECO 40.10 was designed for simple installation of different body types, such as van or ambulance. Vehicle can carry recoilless rifle or anti-tank guided missile launcher, as well as various machine guns.

   This vehicle was designed for high mobility both on and off road. It is based on a platform of the 1st generation IVECO Daily commercial van. It is powered by Fiat 8142 turbocharged diesel engine, developing 103 hp. This military vehicle can be airlifted by the C-130 Hercules transport aircraft. It can also be airdropped.

   The LSVW is  Canadian variant, produced by Western Star. It is in service with Canadian Armed Forces. The Nanjing NJ2046 is a Chinese version, locally produced by NAVECO.



Best military vehicle

Nr.9 GAZ Tigr (Russia)


   The The GAZ-2330 Tigr (tiger) is a high-mobility military vehicle was modeled after the US HMMWV, but there are some conceptual differences between the two. The Tigr was developed alongside Emirati and Jordanian Nimr and is a broadly similar vehicle. Production of the Tigr commenced in 2005. Currently it is in service with the Russian Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Internal Affairs. These vehicles are used to deploy rapid-reaction teams, escort convoys, conduct patrols.

   The GAZ Tigr is simple in design and technology. It has a payload capacity of 1 500 kg and fits the gap between light utility vehicles and light trucks. It is available with various body styles - passenger, armored, cargo. It can be tailored to suit various mission requirements. There are some specialized versions of this vehicle, such as an anti-tank missile carrier.

   The standard version provides seating for driver and 11 passengers. Other configurations accommodate 1+3, 2+4 or 2+7 soldiers.

   A 7.62 mm, 12.7 mm machine gun or 30 mm automatic grenade launcher can be mounted on top of the roof.

   An armored version of the Tigr is available. This armored version is 700 kg heavier, than the standard Tigr. Armor of this vehicle provides some degree of protection against small arms fire, artillery shell shrapnel and explosions.

   The GAZ Tigr is available with Cummins B-180 (5.9-liter, 180 hp), Cummins B-214 (5.9-liter, 215 hp) or GAZ-562 (3.2-liter, 197 hp) turbocharged diesel engine. It seems that other engines are also available. This vehicle is proposed with manual or automatic transmissions. The Tigr uses some proven automotive components of the BTR-80 APC and GAZ Vodnik light utility vehicle. This vehicle has a full-time all-wheel-drive. It is fitted with a central tyre inflation system.



Best light military vehicle

Nr.10 URO VAMTAC (Spain)


   The URO VAMTAC (Vehiculo de Alta Movilidad TACtico or high mobility tactical vehicle) was developed to meet a Spanish armed forces requirement. It is similar in concept and design to the US HMMWV. Production commenced in 1998. The URO VAMTAC is in service with the Spanish Army. Export operators are Belgium, Dominican Republic, Ireland, Malaysia, Morocco, Portugal, Romania and Venezuela.

   Vehicle has a payload capacity of 1 500-2 500 kg, depending on the version. It can tow trailers with a maximum weight of 1 500 kg. The VAMTAC is available in a number of variants with different body types. The main forms are pick-up, command/control and chassis-cab. Pick-up and chassis-cab variants are available with two-door, four-door or reduced size four-door version. The chassis-cab variant is used to mount a vide variety of shelters, or cargo bodies. The command/control variant has four-doors and cargo area, covered with soft, or sloping hard top. Open top models are available.

   Armored version of this light utility vehicle is also available. Its body is completely made of ballistic materials for a more effective protection. Around 25% of the Spanish Army VAMTACs are fitted with add-on ballistic protection.

   Vehicle can be armed with machine guns, grenade launchers, anti-tank guided missiles, 81 mm mortar, 106 mm recoilless rifle or short-range air defense missiles.

   The URO VAMTAC is available with a choice of two Steyr turbocharged diesel engines, developing 166 hp (URO VAMTAC I3) and 188 hp (URO VAMTAC S3). Vehicle is fitted with automatic transmission and has a full time all-wheel drive. It has good cross-country mobility. Vehicle is air-portable inside military transport aircraft. Also it can be carried as external load underslung by the CH-47 Chinook helicopter. The VAMTAC can be parachute-delivered from low altitude.

   Numerous variants include ambulance, fire-fighting vehicle, command post, weapon carrier, cargo carrier.













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