One of the most interesting combat vehicles being developed by the U.S. military is the Ultra Armored Patrol truck – a cross between an armored car and a pick-up truck.
Replacing the Humvee
The Ultra Armored Patrol truck is being developed as a possible replacement for the High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV) – commonly known as a "Humvee." The vehicle is being developed by the Georgia Technology Research Institute, and the project is being overseen by the Office of Naval Research. The first version of the Ultra Armored Patrol truck was unveiled in 2005. A modified version, known as the "Ultra II," was delivered in 2009 and contained a larger crew compartment.
The Ultra Armored Patrol truck has six times the fuel efficiency of a Humvee and can withstand greater attacks – including grenades, rockets and improvised explosive devices. The crew compartment where soldiers sit is called the “blast bucket” and has been designed to withstand bullets, bombs and to function as a roll cage if the truck flips over. The Ultra Armored Patrol truck seats six soldiers – including the driver.
Built on a Ford F-350 Truck
The Ultra Armored Patrol vehicle is built on the frame of a Ford F-350 pick-up truck. With armored plating and protection the truck weighs almost 9,000 pounds. However, despite the weight, the Ultra is very manoeuvrable and agile. It is also fast as the designers incorporated race car technology that was developed by NASCAR engineers. Soldiers traveling in the vehicle use the same harnesses as NASCAR drivers.
The truck also utilizes bullet proof glass, and additional armor plating can be added when required. The futuristic looking truck was developed out of the U.S. Army TARDEC COMBATT Program, which aims to build military vehicles out of commercial cars and trucks. The futuristic appearance of the Ultra Armored Patrol truck has garnered it attention from the mainstream media. Publications ranging from Rolling Stone magazine to USA Today newspaper have profiled the vehicle.
As of February 2010, research and development on the Ultra II Armored Patrol truck was being continued by the Georgia Technology Research Institute.