Contractor working to put Jeeps back on battlefield

Associated Press

Toledo, Ohio — A North Carolina defense contractor’s project could land Jeeps back on the battlefield as the U.S. Army looks for inexpensive, lightweight, unarmored vehicles that can be flown into remote locations.

The Army wants to find vehicles that can ferry troops and cargo over rough terrain in situations that don’t call for heavily armored vehicles, and workers at Charlotte-based Hendrick Dynamics have developed a specifically modified Jeep Wrangler they believe can fill that void, according to The Blade.

The project is in its early stages, but Hendrick Dynamics executives have said they are excited about the Wrangler’s potential.

“We’ve got a really good opportunity to deliver to the Army a highly capable platform at a significantly reduced cost,” said Marshall Carlson, Hendrick Dynamics general manager. “One of the best points of the project is you’re starting with such an incredibly capable vehicle which comes right off the line in Toledo.”

The vehicle would mirror the role the Willys MB — a forerunner of the modern Jeep — filled in World War II. Jeep’s origins in Toledo go back to 1941 when Willys-Overland Motors began mass production of the olive-drab vehicle for the military in 1941.

The Toledo factory built more than 240,000 Wranglers last year, but a Fiat Chrysler spokesman declined to comment on the company’s involvement with Hendrick Dynamics.

Hendrick Dynamics says it has built about two dozen prototypes.

Officials said selling points of the modified Wrangler is that startup and developmental costs are reduced because it’s based on a production vehicle and it offers the advantage of providing a developed service and parts network that covers much of the world.

The Army didn’t return a message seeking comment, but a September report from DefenseNews said the Army plans to release a request for proposals by the end of this year, the newspaper reported.