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The L-ATV: a smoother ride for Marines

The new Oshkosh Defense Light Combat Tactical All-Terrain Vehicle has all the protection of an MRAP, without the decrease in movement and suspension. It can maintain speed while maneuvering even the most difficult of terrain. The L-ATV is one of several vehicles competing to replace the Humvee fleet in the Marine Corps. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Chelsea Flowers)

I’ve never prided myself in knowing a lot about horsepower, vehicles or engines. I didn’t have to be a grease monkey, though, to notice the difference in smoothness and maneuverability of the new Oshkosh Defense vehicle.

Last week, I got to experience first-hand the new features of the Oshkosh Defense Light Combat Tactical All-Terrain Vehicle on an off-road course. First, however, Oshkosh put me through the course in the Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacement, or MTVR, as a comparison. Needless to say, it was a bumpy and rough ride. We moved at a slow pace, especially when crossing potholes and divots or taking tight turns. After a less than comfortable ride, I took a ride in the L-ATV.

The two vehicles couldn’t be more different. The L-ATV maneuvered effortlessly over the bumps and difficult terrain. We maintained a speed of 20-30 mph over most of the course, even hitting 40 mph at one point. One of the Oshkosh employees said the best test of smoothness was that he could easily continue to send text messages while in the L-ATV, but couldn’t in the MTVR. While I don’t expect deployed Marines will be texting while in the L-ATV, he did make a valid point about how smooth the ride was.

Since the mid-1980s, Marines have used the Humveefor a variety of missions both deployed and at home. Over time, the Marine Corps modified the Humvee to add protection, but with that has come a decrease in speed and mobility. That is, until recently.

The new Oshkosh Defense Light Combat Tactical All-Terrain Vehicle is one of several vehicles the Marine Corps is considering to replace the Humvee fleet in coming years. The L-ATV sports increased protection as well as speed and maneuverability and significant off-road ability. The TAK-4i suspension system also lends for a smooth ride even in the most difficult terrain. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Wetzel)

The Marine Corps is considering proposed vehicles by multiple companies to eventually replace the existing fleet of Humvees. The L-ATV is one such vehicle.

“We’ve been developing the L-ATV over six generation of vehicles,” said John Bryant, Oshkosh Defense vice president and general manager for Joint and Marine Corps Programs.

The L-ATV offers a new suspension system, more advanced than the TAK-4, which is currently used on roughly 20,000 vehicles in the military. The L-ATV features a new intelligent suspension system called the TAK-4i.

“TAK-4i takes off-road suspension capability to the next level of performance,” Bryant said. “It provides 20 inches of wheel travel. It will provide not only the ability to cross very difficult terrain, but to do it with a great ride quality and without beating up the occupants of the vehicle.”

It isn’t just the smooth ride that makes the L-ATV so pleasing to Marines. It also has as much body armor on the outside as a Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle, Bryant said. Ordinarily protection of that magnitude comes at the price of slow movement, but the L-ATV shows no signs of being weighed down.

“The L-ATV has an incredibly protected capsule, only before experienced in an MRAP,” Bryant said. “But it is a light-tactical vehicle capable of tremendous off-road performance. It can go fast across terrain and tackle the most challenging obstacles with a ride-quality and reliability so Marines don’t have to worry about beating themselves up on the way to and from missions.”

Even the handling of the L-ATV shows improvements over other vehicles.

The L-ATV’s TAK-4i suspension system allows it to travel on off-road terrain with speed and a smooth ride. The vehicle has undergone six generations of improvements and changes to become what it is now.

“It’s converging on what a pick-up truck operates like,” said Bruce Sellers, director of Oshkosh defense business development for Marine Corps Programs. “It doesn’t feel like a big, heavy truck.”

While the Marine at the wheel may feel like he’s taking a drive in a pick-up truck, the L-ATV is more than suited to handle any mission the Marine Corps requires.

“We can’t change the geo-political environment,” Bryant said. “We can just prepare Marines to handle it.”

And as a former Marine artilleryman, Bryant knows just what Marines need in a vehicle.

The Oshkosh Defense L-ATV is only one of several proposed vehicles that could hit the fleet in coming years. Over the next 27 months, the top three vehicles will continue to be tested, changed and improved. When the final vehicle is picked, there is no doubt it will bring better protection, smoother riding and improved handling for Marines.

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  • Cerberus

    I wonder what goes into the tower, some remote weapon system? :)

  • Jay

    It does fit into a c-130.

  • Jay

    Check put their YouTube video. It shows them loading one in a C-130. It does have a V-hull also

  • Mark Mayfield

    I saw the first 4 M-ATVs that arrived in Kandahar in 09.  Those were pretty sweet, though very loud.  I’d love to see how these stack up against them.  Loved the new truck smell.  Those Oshkosh guys have all the fun.

  • Matt Clark

    Yea its looking pretty good but I see 3 flaws: To big to fit in a C130, Does not have V shaped underside for IED deflection, and lastly that radiator in the front looks like a major weakness.

  • Crowder MJ

    I certainly hope this bad boy hits the ranks! What a fine looking piece of machinery.
    Ha! Thanks Oshkosh! Hope to give one of these a drive when I’m around in the Corp!

  • devilGod

    me too

  • Actpracticalmaintainance

    Hah if i shoot my 50 cal at the radiator what would the out come be like?

  • Cody

    would be cooler if it had tank tracks

  • CJSwann1

    Okay, where do I get one? Evil, rotten, mean and nasty could find a hole new definition.
    Corpsman Up!!!!

  • Tom

    wish we had toys like this when we were in 1967 – 1973

  • Zed Zeigler

    well i like. nice to know they are spending on stuff like that! i may even get to be in one. lol. 

  • Ethan

    Nice! New toys for the Marines.

  • Wwejake98

    The best thing to spend money on…The Marines!!

  • Franksbail

    It’s all the armor that I like and speed. At that size, I’ll take 2.

  • Ricking71

    And I just bought a new MW3 Black ops Jeep!

  • Kennyjackson54

    Bottom doesn’t have a V shape to deflect IED’s? 

  • Kayfes

    They deserve everything to bring them home and keep the enemy in the grave

  • Fireman037

    That’s good stuff..

  • Robborobinson

    I work for Oshkosh Corp, this stuff makes me happy to work their :)

  • Andrew Hickey

    So they will replace the M-ATV as well?

  • Kaufman_hank

    it need a GAL-19 on top 

  • Evan Reed

    how mass production  friendly is it and when will the civilian version be available

  • 3524

    A ship like LSD, or C5, sure.  A C130 or MV-22B, not a chance….  The definition of a “light” tactical vehicle sure has changed in the last 8 years….  The definition is now based on payload, with the break to medium duty being somewhere around 2.5T, forget about GVRW…..  Sooo many trucks for sooo many missions, good times. 

  • Reggie2252

    Hell I’ll by one of these.

  • James Savik

    I want one! With the optional missile launcher of course- traffic is murder.

  • Soulojacob

    Ive never seen ugly look more beautiful. My favorite type of government spending: safety for Marines. Buy em!

  • Erik S

    But does it fit in a ship?

  • David Gonzales

    That shit looks mean and nasty! I like!!!