Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Blackwater Developing Light Strike Vehicle

"The US military is looking for light, high-speed four-wheelers that can zip troops around battlezones," Wired reports. Always ready to serve, Blackwater is coming out with a new prototype, the Light Strike Vehicle.

In recent years, military vehicles have become increasingly heavy. The current incarnation of the Humvee, the M1151, weighs more than twice the original model, the M998. All that additional armor and equipment is great, but it means the vehicle can no longer accomplish all the missions for which it was originally designed. Moreover, the extra weight is putting extra strain on the helicopters that have to ferry these things around.

That's where the Light Strike Vehicle comes in. "Still in the prototype stage, the 3,000-pound vehicle will have a 500-horsepower engine, 41-inch tires and a 2,500-pound payload." And under the right conditions, it can do 100mph.

“A vehicle with outstanding off­road capability and high axle articu­lation requires a compliant and loose suspension with maximum travel,” said Marty Strong, Blackwa­ter USA vice president of communi­cations. “These are the opposite characteristics required of a high­speed platform. Our suspension de­sign spans both worlds by offering high articulation and extreme off­road performance, while still main­taining great manners when travel­ing at speeds approaching 100 mph.

Pictures of Blackwater's Light Strike Vehicle prototype are not yet avaliable, so what you see above is a similar vehicle from Chenoweth, deployed during the first Gulf War.

This is not, of course, Blackwater's first vehicle project; the Grizzly is an armored personnel carrier (APC) on the heavier side of the spectrum, a vehicle which received critical acclaim from those that would have to use it. One military blogger praised it for its "attention to detail" and its design to "deflect the effect of roadside bombs and mines."

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