Pimp my ride

We’ve talked before about how the Humvee isn’t really meant to be a fighting vehicle, even in its up-armored state.  The next obvious question would be, “What does a vehicle designed for fighting look like?” Well, we’ve all heard about the MRAP. But MRAPs have their own problems. They cost a fortune, and are big and heavy, limiting their mobility on the goat trails of Afghanistan, and the narrow alleys in Iraq.

In the 80’s, Army doctrine for a linear battlefield had heavy combat units securing the front line. Units in the rear area were responsible for their own local defense, but the lines of communication were (and supposedly still are) the responsibility of the Military Police. MPs may function as law-enforcement in peacetime, but in a combat situation, their primary focus is on three missions- POW handling, traffic control, and rear area security. The MP Corps wanted a vehicle heavier than the existing Humvee weapons carrier for some situations that needed a little more protection. They looked to the past, found the Cadillac Cage V-100 Commando armored car and had it updated into the M1117  Armored Security Vehicle or ASV.


The MP Corps bought about 50 of these in the late 80’s before procurement was switched to up-armored Humvees. Most of the decision to switch was based on cost. An up-armored Humvee only cost about $140,000 while an ASV ran about $700,000. That’s five times the cost. It wasn’t until the IED threat in Iraq became clear that the MPs started to rethink the decision to switch.

But there were still problems. At that price tag, the Army might be able to afford enough ASVs for the MPs, but not for the whole force. Secondly, right about the time the Army decided to restart production, the factory was wiped out by Hurricane Katrina. They have finally rebuilt the factory, and are currently looking at buying  just over 2000 ASV’s.

Each ASV carries a three man crew- driver, gunner/commander, and a rear gunner. There’s also space for a 4th passenger. Thus each ASV can carry 4 men, versus 5 in an up-armored Humvee.  The ASV has a small turret carrying a 40mm Mk-19 machine gun and a M2 .50cal machine gun. There’s also a mount for an M249 SAW for the rear gunner.

By using angled armor, applique ceramic plates on the exterior and a kevlar spall liner in the interior, the ASV is designed to withstand fires from .50 cal machine guns and bursts from 155mm artillery shells at 15 meters. They aren’t proofed against RPGs, but most ASVs in Iraq that have been hit with PRGs have come through with few if any casualties to the crew.

9 thoughts on “Pimp my ride”

  1. Textron makes those, right? Right in my home-town area of NO. Wasn’t that also a case of NIH syndrome? IIRC, Textron went to the Army who, at first really didn’t want it until commanders in the field squawked. Were also found to be more resistant to blast damage than the Strykers, were they not? Which pissed the Army off as the Stryker was an Army developed thing while the ASV was strictly a Textron baby. At least I THINK that’s the way it all went down….

  2. Strykers have proven pretty resistant to blast from roadside bombs. I haven’t seen much info on them vs. mines, but they have some protection against them; nor have I seen info on them vs. EFPs.

    The Stryker is actually a development of the Canadian LAV, so NIH isn’t that much a factor. What they really didn’t like was the pricetag of the ASV back in 1998. Let’s face it, $700k was a lot for a cop car. Interestingly, I just read today that the Army is buying the M1200 variant of the ASV which is a FIST version for work with the Stryker units. I’m a little surprised they didn’t just make a FISTer of the Stryker.

  3. This is one amazing vehicle. My son’s M1200 Armored Knight(M1117 platform)sustained significant damage when he ran over a massive IED last week. One of the tires was blown 300 meters into the air; they weren’t able to locate it for recovery. All three of the crew survived the explosion. My son took the brunt of it (he was driving) and only sustained a serious concussion. Because of OPSEC I can’t give any further details, but he said it was a very significant IED that would have shredded even the latest HUMMVVS. He also said the M1200 costs a lot more than $700k. Anyway, thank you America for taking care of our soldiers and thank you Textron for making one very tough machine.

    1. The baseline vehicle still costs around $700,000. Hell I was in charge of an ASV in Iraq whose final price tag was around $1.3million (US)

  4. I’m VERY glad to hear that your son will be OK. And glad to hear that the truck did its job well.

    That the M1200 costs a lot more than a baseline M1117 isn’t surprising. All the FIST gear alone probably costs somewhere around the same as the baseline vehicle.

  5. This is actually a photo of my ASV in AFghanistan. We were the first ones to test them out in country and let me tell you they are worth the money. We hit a pretty good sized IED in the rear when we caught a trip wire all it did was blow out the tire and damage some of the platting. My gunner had a slight concussion but that was it. Well worth the money buy more.

  6. How cool to make your acquaintance. And I’m glad to hear you came through OK.

    And I don’t think there’s any doubt that ASVs are better suited for an IED rich environment than a Humvee.

    I understand why the Army was hesitant to spend a lot of money on uparmored Humvees and ASVs and MRAPs at first. They didn’t really expect to be involved for 8 years.

    I’d love to hear some anecdotes from your tour.

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