The U.S. Army plans to pay Mack Truck’s defense unit nearly $300 million to build armored dump trucks. But before the new trucks go into the field, the military will try to destroy one or more test models.
“We will literally shoot it with machine guns and blow it up and see what happens,” Lt. Col. Jeff Jurand, the Army’s product manager for heavy tactical vehicles, told Trucks.com.
The Army wants to make sure that soldiers in the armored compartment can survive the effects of a large-scale blast.
“The most important asset to the Army is the soldiers,” Jurand said. “I can buy dump trucks. But I can’t buy, train and replace soldiers.”
40 WEEKS OF TESTING
That’s why “destructive live fire” is one part of the 40-week test program that begins this summer at the U.S. Army’s Aberdeen Test Center in Maryland.
The trucks will be used in tasks ranging from humanitarian missions to repairing supply routes and creating helipads and landing strips in countries like Afghanistan and Iraq.
The armored dump trucks won’t carry weapons like other military vehicles, Jurand said. But the soldiers and engineers assigned to them will be protected based on threats they are most likely to encounter.
The truck “will provide the Army the legendary durability and toughness Mack customers have come to depend on,” said David Hartzell, president of Mack Defense.
Some of the Army’s heavy dump trucks are up to 50 years old. Finding replacement parts is tough. The 1,000-truck fleet is made up of decades-old trucks from Daimler Trucks Freightliner division, AM General and the former International Harvester Co.
The Army expects to take delivery of 42 Mack Granite trucks over the next year based on its request to Congress in the 2020 fiscal year budget. Depending on how much the Army gets in future defense budgets, Mack could supply up to 600 armored dump trucks by 2025.
Mack Defense won the contract in 2018 over Navistar Defense, a unit of Navistar International Corp.
“We’ve got readiness problems up and down the fleet for heavy dump trucks, so the Army decided to launch a program to try to get that fleet healthy,” Jurand said.
The Army required that the new trucks be able to handle 22.5-ton payloads of sand and gravel, crushed rock, hot paving mixes, earth, clay, rubble, and large boulders. They are modified with heavier-duty rear axles, all-wheel drive, ride height and ground clearance.