Designed to support troops during extended combat operations, the Multifunction Utility / Logistics and Equipment vehicle lives up to the acronym "MULE."
Future Combat Systems Program
The MULE vehicle has been designed by Lockheed Martin Corp. as part of the U.S. Army Future Combat Systems program. The vehicle has been developed to keep soldiers supplied with water, food and power sources during extended combat operations. Each MULE can carry about 2,000 pounds of weight -- enough to supply two infantry squads in the field. Each vehicle costs about $300,000 to purchase.
As with many of the vehicles developed for the Future Combat Systems program, the MULE is an unmanned ground vehicle. It is operated remotely and does not have a person to drive it. The MULE’s are designed to follow the soldiers in a support capacity. The vehicles maintain a safe distance and can be ordered forward as needed. Each MULE weighs about 2.5 tons.
In addition to its role in carrying supplies, the MULE vehicle also has an imaging system to spot obstacles, sensors to detect chemical and biological weapons, and the ability to detect and neutralize anti-tank mines. The MULE can also communicate with and deploy other unmanned ground and aerial vehicles.
The U.S. Army and Lockheed Martin are constantly looking for opportunities to upgrade and enhance the MULE. In 2008, the vehicles were outfitted with new tires that are less vulnerable to bullets and fragments from mines and grenades. One of the MULE’s advantageous is that its rugged suspension and wheels allow it to travel quickly and effectively over rugged terrain.