WASHINGTON — Oshkosh Defense debuted its Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected All-Terrain Vehicle 6x6 at the Association of the US Army's annual exposition, a technology demonstrator vehicle that provides protection and off-road capability at about half the cost of a wheeled armored personnel carrier, John Bryant, Oshkosh senior vice president for defense programs, said.
Oshkosh has a rich history in M-ATV building, having delivered over 10,000 M-ATV 4x4 vehicles worldwide with 8,700 of those for the US Army, Bryant told Defense News last week.
The M-ATV program is considered the last MRAP program created in response to an urgent need for MRAP-level protection in a vehicle that had superior off-road capability, he said. Just a few short months after the contract award, Oshkosh was delivering 1,000 M-ATVs a month.
"Our M-ATV 6x6 technology demonstrator was really done under Oshkosh internal research and development," Byrant said. "We did not do it in reaction to any particular US government program. What we looked at though was that we see worldwide many of our military customers are looking to mechanize their infantry."
Many militaries around the world have infantry that is just foot-mobile and "are faced with a choice in providing mobility for that squad – a choice between a tracked armored personnel carrier, a wheeled armored personnel carrier or some kind of truck that is kind of stuck on the roads," Bryant said.
Essentially, the M-ATV 6x6 fits in the sweet spot for an infantry squad's needs.
Bryant said the company is looking more at selling the vehicle in the overseas market, but chose to bring the demonstrator to AUSA because of the strong international footprint at the show.
And, to Bryant, the foreign countries interested in checking out the vehicle at the company's booth had been "tremendous," he said, adding "I see multiple international customers per hour."
Now that Oshkosh has built its prototype, it is now "capturing the voice of the customer," Bryant said.
"We will determine if we are hearing a common story, is there a common voice as to the type of configurations the customer might want. Are we hearing a common thread as to what size of infantry squad would he want to transport in this vehicle," Bryant said, noting some may want a vehicle that carries 15 soldiers and some may want one that carries 13.
Oshkosh will also listen to what types of equipment potential customers may want on the vehicle, what types of weapons systems, and if they want something like an electro-optical site system (which is on the current prototype), according to Bryant.
"The feedback itself will drive the future development of the platform," he said.
Jen Judson is an award-winning journalist covering land warfare for Defense News. She has also worked for Politico and Inside Defense. She holds a Master of Science degree in journalism from Boston University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Kenyon College.