ABU DHABI — Ultralight off-road vehicle manufacturers are not going light on competition for Middle East business at the massive IDEX defense show here this week.
The main American contenders — top-tier defense firm General Dynamics and recreational vehicle maker Polaris Industries — displayed their offerings for the US Army's nascent ultralight combat vehicle effort, seeking local customers as well.
"We're following the threat, we're away from driving on main service roads, between forward operating bases," Rich Haddad, Polaris Defense general manager, said of troops using the vehicle. "The organizations you're dealing with are less than military and they tend to be light, mobile and fast."
"This is the first time we have been able to have the vehicle participate, and we think people will take advantage of it because it won the GMV 1.1 competition based on its performance and characteristics," said Sean Ridley, the program director at General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems.
The stripped-down Flyer 72 weighs 4,500 and can carry nine people. With all the options, including an armor package, its weighs 12,000 — the maximum weight for the GMV 1.1. Its maximum range is 450 miles and top speed is 85 mph.
"All your development is done, your sustainment is done, all you're buying is a system and a package at that point," Ridley said.
GD's Flyer 60, selected by SOCOM as an internally transportable vehicle for the V-22 Osprey, shares a drive train, suspension, electrical systems and engine, Ridley said.
At the show, the Flyer 72 has seen interest from Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, where it was invited to participate in the summer trials testing event, according to Ridley. Yet he said the vehicle could be used anywhere.
"I don't think it's specifically just this part of the word," he said. "We've got a base vehicle that's light, that can support a variety of missions, whether it's desert conditions, a water environment or urban terrain. The interest in the vehicle has been there for awhile, but we are just getting to where we can bring it to shows like this."
Photo Credit: Polaris
The DAGOR, which debuted publicly in October, is on contract with a Middle East partner, Polaris officials said.
"One of these things, 60 feet in the air," Haddad said. "You don't even talk about blast protection with these vehicles."
"We are looking at patrol, and our current markets are the Middle East and Africa, where you need to cover a lot of terrain," said Camilo Munoz-Trochez, of the Pastor. "We are talking about an electric variant. Why? Because we are the first to bring an electric vehicle to Rally. We will be really, really silent."
"This is really designed for quick, hit-and-run operations that are not accessible by other means," said Hamayun Khan, the company's director of international business development for the region.
The vehicle took part in the UAE's official summer trials last year, according to Khan, and it traveled 700 kilometers on a single tank of gas.
"UAE armed forces are very interested in this," he said.
Joe Gould is senior Pentagon reporter for Defense News, covering the intersection of national security policy, politics and the defense industry.