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.
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.
Top 10 military light utility vehicles in the world are these:
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
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
is air transportable and droppable from a variety of military
transport aircraft. It can be carried underslung by some
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,
missile carriers, shelters, prime movers and so on. Some of the
variants are armored. A civilian version of the HMMWV is the Hummer
Land Rover Defender (United Kingdom)
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
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.
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.
Mercedes-Benz G-class (Germany)
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Toyota Land Cruiser (Japan)
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
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.
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.
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
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.
Pinzgauers have an excellent cross-country performance due to their
high ground clearance and short wheelbase.
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
Beijing BJ2022 (China)
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
was designed for high mobility both on and off road. It is based on
a platform of the 1st generation
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.
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.
GAZ Tigr (Russia)
GAZ-2330 Tigr (tiger) is a high-mobility military vehicle was
modeled after the US
but there are some conceptual differences between the two.
The Tigr was developed alongside Emirati and Jordanian
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,
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
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
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
Vodnik light utility vehicle. This vehicle has a full-time
all-wheel-drive. It is fitted with a central tyre inflation system.
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
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
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
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.
include ambulance, fire-fighting vehicle, command post, weapon
carrier, cargo carrier.