We already know the Oshkosh JLTV will be replacing the U.S. military’s iconic Hummer for general mobility, but apparently there’s still a gap in the motor pool for fast and light tactical transportation. It turns out the Army may end up with the same buggy you can buy at your local powersports shop.
Bloomberg is reporting that some 600 paratroopers from the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne will land in Poland next month for what Army Colonel Colin Tuley described as a “joint, forcible-entry exercise.” About 1,000 British and Polish paratroopers will join the Americans.
And on this training run they will be evaluating the Polaris MRZR. It’s an 875cc Side-By-Side (SxS) Utility Task Vehicle (or Utility Terrain Vehicle/UTV) that the Army is hoping will serve more as a foot-solider supplement than a standalone attack truck.
With just shy of 90 horsepower, the the 1,937-pound buggies can carry six people at 60 MPH according to the brochure. And if those people are all buff soldiers, they just might be able to physically lift up the buggy and carry it somewhere in a pinch.
“These vehicles significantly enhance what would otherwise be foot mobility,” 82nd Airborne Deputy Commander Brigadier General Brian Winski told Bloomberg. “They change the dynamic and turn what would have been a 3 mile-per-hour operation into a 50 mile-per-hour operation” allowing soldiers to attack “at a pace and in locations the enemy would not expect.”
Anyone who’s been at an off-road event in the last few years will recognize the Polaris RZR as one of the most capable high-speed crawlers you can buy and bash right off the showroom floor. They’re not generally street legal, but dollar-for-dollar they’ll run circles around just about any Jeep.
The militarized version (I think that’s where the “M” comes from) has a little more horsepower than the standard “ProStar 900" engine but besides that is’s pretty much ready to go to war out of the box. It comes in both “2” and “4” configurations (denoting how many forward-facing seats) and has a little optional trailer.
Another big bonus is that it’s cheap. You can buy a regular RZR for $15,000, looks like the two-seat MRZR-2 is on sale at under $30,000 and the four-seat version rings up at about $36,000. A small fraction of a JLTV’s unit price of well over $400,000.
Someone who asked to remain anonymous but claimed to have “driven/tested/qualified the MRZR” wrote “With the MRZR-2 or 2 guys in the MRZR-4 we had them running much faster than 60 mph and you never felt worried. Rolled them over with no issues either,” to me in an e-mail.
The Polaris won’t have the bigger JLTV’s armor or pulling power, but when it comes to moving men and women around fast and efficiently, the Polaris is tough to beat. At least on paper.
Ten MRZRs will be involved in the Polish exercise to find out how it really runs in the field. Colonel Tuley added that the U.S. Army has already bought 30 of them to practice and play with.
And of course, the American military’s Special Forces already appear to have deployed some in the field, but they tend to be pretty quiet about that sort of thing. This test appears to be for the Army on a larger scale.
Mark McCormick, director of Polaris’s defense sector, told Bloomberg that the Army may buy 300 more of these buggies depending on its deemed effectiveness next month.