Safer Transportation

The Biden administration is set to dramatically expand the scope and number of weapons and other military equipment we are sending to Ukraine as part of a second $800 million military aid package. Set to go in this second round of aid are armored Humvees. One hundred of them. After all, what good is a soldier if he can’t get from point A to point B safely?

The M1151 Enhanced Armament Carrier. Image Credit: armyrecogniton.com

Not the Terminator’s Humvee

We’ve all been familiar with the Humvee since Arnold Schwarzenegger made them famous by buying a couple in the early 80s and converting them for civilian use. However, this variant, my friend, is not Arnold’s Humvee.

First off, we need to get the names right. According to the military, which has to have a confusing acronym for everything, these vehicles are technically HMMWV (High Mobility Multi Wheeled Vehicles). Yes, I agree; Humvee has a lot nicer ring to it.

In particular, the variant shown in the photo above is an M1151 enhanced armament carrier. You’ll hear these more commonly referred to as “armored” or “up-armored” Humvees. However, these also qualify as “Light Armored Cars” in military speak. The M1151 was designed to replace the M1025A Humvee by order of CENTCOM (United States Central Command). There was a good reason for that.

As a point of comparison, here is a photo of an M1025 series HMMWV. Image Credit: armyrecogniton.com

In the early days of Operation Iraqi Freedom, many Humvees were of the non-armored, thin-skinned type. In a world thick with RPGs (rocket-propelled grenades) and IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices), these soft-sided Humvees, to put it mildly, made the occupants feel vulnerable. Up armoring kits were supposed to be on their way, but they arrived at a snail’s pace and never enough to meet demand.

Troops would step up using good old all-American ingenuity and cut out large sections of water tanks and the like to make their own armor plates.

An example of DIY up armoring of your vehicle in theater. Image courtesy of Sgt. Ian Mason, US Army, 1st ID

The Particulars

Humvees are tactical vehicles initially designed to replace older tactical vehicles (primarily Jeeps) in the 0.25 to 1.25-ton range. They are manufactured by AM General at its Mishawaka industrial plant and are currently being utilized by military forces in more than 50 nations.

The M1151 variant was specially designed to have the same track width as US main battle tanks. This feature allows the vehicle to travel in tracks left by these tanks. They are fitted with a central tire inflation system and run-flat tires. Even with punctured and damaged tires, the M1151 can travel another 30 miles at a maximum speed of 30 mph. The maximum road speed on fully inflated, nondamaged tires is 70 mph. When equipped with a deep wading kit, the M1151 can ford water obstacles up to 5 feet deep.

They can traverse gradients of up to 40% and a side slope of not more than 30%.

The vehicles are air portable and can be para-dropped. Furthermore, they can be carried underslung by some helicopters.

These armored Humvees are powered by General Engine Products 6.5-liter V8 turbocharged diesel engine, developing 190 hp. The same engine, previously known as Detroit Diesel, was used on the earlier HMMWV series vehicles. The engine is mated to a 4-speed automatic transmission, and the vehicle has a full-time all-wheel drive.

The base version of the M1151 has a curb weight of 3.75 tons. However, the vehicle weight differs depending on armor configuration. Payload capacity also ranges from 1.67 tons to 2.5 tons depending on armor configuration. The M1151 can tow trailers and light artillery pieces with a maximum weight of approximately 2 tons.

This vehicle was designed as an armament carrier as well as a personnel carrier. It has a ring mount on top of the roof and can be equipped with a Mk 19 Mod 3 automatic grenade launcher, M2, caliber, .50 machine gun, M60 and M240 7.62mm machine guns, and M249 5.56mm Squad Assault Weapon (SAW).

These weapons can be ring-mounted with a 360-degree arc of fire, with armor protection for the crew, weapon components, and ammunition.

Two armor kits are available for this vehicle. The baseline A kit can be factory installed and includes underbody armor, rocker armor, lower windscreen deflector armor, and energy-absorbing seats. There is another optional add-on B kit that is bolted on top of the A kit in field conditions. It further improves ballistic protection and provides some degree of protection against mine blasts and improvised explosive devices. The kit includes perimeter armor, overhead armor, and a rear ballistic bulkhead.  

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