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Improvised Vehicle Armor - Added Protection

U.S. soldiers frequently weld scrap metal to vehicles for additional protection.


Improvised Vehicle Armor - Added Protection
Updated July 21, 2011

U.S. soldiers often add additional, improvised armor to combat vehicles to provide increased protection in war zones.

Hillbilly Armor

U.S. soldiers refer to the additional improvised armor added to combat vehicles such as Humvees and tanks as "Hillbilly Armor." There is a long tradition within the U.S. military of adding additional armor to vehicles to help protect soldiers riding inside. During World War Two, American infantry men welded strips of tank track to the outside of Sherman tanks. During the Vietnam Conflict, U.S. soldiers reinforced gun trucks with sand bags and steel plates.

Today, U.S. soldiers still rely on improvised vehicle armor to help fortify them against enemy fire and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in places such as Iraq and Afghanistan. U.S. soldiers weld steel and scrap metal to the outside of a variety of vehicles ranging from Humvees, tanks, Armored Personnel Carriers (APCs), and even common transport vehicles such as jeeps.


Soldiers first began adding additional armor to vehicles in Iraq in 2003 to protect themselves against roadside bombs, which were frequently planted by insurgent forces. The U.S. military has responded to the use of improvised vehicle armor by outfitting vehicles with more heavily fortified armor. This process is known as "up-armor."

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