By on July 22, 2016

Seventh-Generation Toyota Hilux

Toyota SUVs and pickups are popular with insurgents in overseas conflict zones, so why shouldn’t the U.S. military kick the tires on some?

The U.S. Special Operations Command just placed an order for up to 556 vehicles outfitted for “unconventional warfare” use, most of them Toyota Land Cruisers, Military Aerospace reports.

SOCOM’s contract with Battelle Memorial Institute of Columbus, Ohio will produce 396 armored and 160 unarmored off-the-shelf vehicles for testing purposes. The armored vehicles will be outfitted to survive a firefight while remaining incognito in global hot spots.

While the bulk of the contract is for Toyota Land Cruiser 76 and 79 variants (the SUV and pickup versions), some of the vehicles will be Toyota Hilux pickups and Ford Rangers. The idea of the testing program is to one day deliver a battle-ready vehicle to Special Forces that doesn’t carry a neon sign reading, “We’re here!”

Batelle will modify the vehicles, keeping their stock appearance while adding “special armor, suspension, brakes, frames and body reinforcements, as well as infrared lighting, blackout mode, and Special Operations command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (C4ISR) equipment,” the report states.

Once the Special Operations upgrades are complete, the fleet will undergo a design review process, then contractor and government testing. If SOCOM likes them, the military will issue production orders.

ISIS terrorists in Syria and Iraq love the Hilux and Land Cruiser — it’s their go-to ride, and the U.S. Air Force can’t destroy enough of them. Being able to fly under the radar in a secretly A-Teamed Toyota would give Special Forces a real edge in their mission. They love it when a plan comes together.

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72 Comments on “U.S. Military Goes A-Team, Orders Covertly Armored Toyotas for Testing...”


  • avatar
    threeer

    If you knew how much we (the DoD) leased base Toyota HiLuxes for in theaters like Afghanistan, it’d make leasing a Porsche look downright affordable. Even saw one find it’s way back to the US somehow onto the base I work on (had to do a double-take, as they aren’t exactly legal in the US, nor sold at your friendly-neighborhood ‘Yota dealership). But given how common these things are, it kind of makes sense for us to consider using them, as well. Heck, I wish I had been able to use one while in Saudi…would have been much easier to blend in while driving downtown Riyadh versus the Tahoe I had.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      So does Toyota sell those lease returns to the enemy? Do we ever get our deposit back or do they deduct value based on the number of bullet holes? ;-)

      [the above is snark – it is not meant to intimate, imply, or directly accuse that Toyota knowingly supports enemies of the United States – there is humor in the concept that unconventional warfare Hiluxes are LEASED by the US military – implying they are returned for residual value and then go — somewhere after]

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al From 'Murica

      The ones in Bagram were purchased except for the vehicles the contractors brought over. We had those, 70 series Land Cruisers and Defenders that were all purchased and typically transferred to the Afghanis via Foreign Military Sales Chanels when we were done.

  • avatar
    multicam

    Makes sense, the men with beards like to remain incognito. 556 seems like a pretty large order for such a small organization though.

    • 0 avatar
      mmreeses

      Special Operations Command has grown a lot over the years.

      Whether that’s a good thing or bad, I’ll leave to others.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Special_Operations_Command

      • 0 avatar
        Adam Tonge

        It is good that we have many highly trained military personnel. At the same time it is unfortunate that we *need* so many.

        • 0 avatar
          yamahog

          Is military training a good thing? The last two guys to assassinate police officers had military training and one has to wonder whether more police officers would be alive today if there were less people who were military trained killers.

          • 0 avatar
            Adam Tonge

            The last two guys to assassinate police officers were not SOCOM soldiers. They weren’t even active duty infantry level.

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            @yamahog – a lot of these Special Forces members move over to the CIA or become private contractors i.e. Academi (formerly BlackWater).

          • 0 avatar
            RobertRyan

            @Lou_BC
            Australian Army ex Soldiers took up Private Contractor work in Iraq. Problem here, and in New Zealand,you could be charged as being a Mercenary if you return.
            Non Combatent roles are not covered by that act.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            yamahog,
            My personal belief is the US needs to better provide decent pay when the guys are in the military and teach them skills so when they get home they can earn enough to live.

            I know there is a lot of support for the guys when they arrive home, but I don’t know how good this support is.

            Like schools/education/health the effectiveness of programs can’t be measured in how many dollars is given to any cause/group to help Veterans. But again dollars are needed.

            I believe all Veterans need more and better assistance, in many countries.

            Governments have enough data on most military people to assist in employment opportunities as well. You will soon find out how much of the enterprise specific military training is transferable across in civilian life.

            Military people become institutionalised after 7 years of service. This needs to be wound down. You just can’t dump a military person and expect all to succeed.

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            “Military people become institutionalised after 7 years of service.”

            That explains a lot.

      • 0 avatar
        RobertRyan

        US Special Forces have been using Hiluxes, for a while in Afghanistan. Had initially Tacoma’s but ditched them

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al From 'Murica

          I’m not sure what your experience is, but I have 2 1/2 years of my life spent between Bagram and Kandahar and have seen all of 1 Tacoma which was an obvious wreck repair that some contractors brought over. They were IT types, not SF.

  • avatar
    Paragon

    Our Pentagon, in conjunction with the CIA, sure seems to love spending enormous sums of money in order to play war games. Almost ever since the end of WWII, they sent troops to Korea, then Viet Nam , and on to many, many more places around the world ever since. If there isn’t already a conflict somewhere, it’s almost like they have a need to create one. There is absolutely no accountability to those of us who are both taxpayers and citizens of this country. Would seem as though something needs to change, and fast.

    Of course, that’s only one of a myriad of ways that our so-called government, or some branch of it, wastes enormous sums of money.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      I believe in preparedness, but not in playing cop everywhere.

      As for these trucks, I’m not sure why 556 of them are needed for ‘testing’. That quantity sounds like an actual production contract.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        @SCE to AUX – “playing cop”? Not in the least. Rules of engagement have changed to categorize even “friendly” countries as part of the global battlefield.

  • avatar
    tomLU86

    5.56 is the caliber of the M16.

  • avatar
    TybeeJim

    They damn well better hurry before The Donald gets elected. He’d never approve buy ‘Yotas cause the $$$$ would go to Japan. In fact he’d demand they give them to us in reparation for our expenses to defend Japan from N. Korea. That said, Ford must be kicking themselves in the ass for not selling the new world Ranger in the US.

  • avatar
    oleladycarnut

    I wonder if this is “new” news. The US has been outfitting Land Cruisers with armor, etc. for years to be used for civilians and the military doing whatever business the government does in the ‘Stans.

  • avatar
    Corollaman

    Why not the GM mid-sizers? Many here believe they’re just as good and durable and reliable as the Toyos.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      Nice troll. I’ll bite.

      Because when you’re in some third world Hell hole a local Chevy dealer isn’t exactly on every corner. Conversely in some third world Hell hole worst case scenario for parts and service, you can scavenge off that convoy of Toyota trucks just blasted by a Hellfire missile off a drone.

      Unconventional warfare is about overcome, adapt, and improvise – easier to do that in a Toyota product – a key reason why the insurgents use them.

      Oh, and if you don’t think Detroit iron is up the task, ask that Texas plumber who has his reputation destroyed with his F-series truck being used by Daesh bad guys complete with his logo and phone numbers still on the doors.

      • 0 avatar
        Adam Tonge

        ISIS would take Avalanche 2500s with the 8.1L if they could.

        • 0 avatar
          RobertRyan

          No, LandCruiser 70’s Even they know what is quality.Tahoes can barely go off road

          • 0 avatar
            Adam Tonge

            Just stop man. There have been plenty of Avalanches used in anti-insurgent roles in Iraq. ISIS would love the midgate because of how flexible of a weapons platform it makes the truck. They wouldn’t want a ton of them, but it would definitely serve a purpose. Especially the HD version.

          • 0 avatar
            RobertRyan

            @Adam,
            Tahoe is an Off Road Vehicle? I have seen two Avanlanches here,could not imagine them going too far off road. Where they used as Convoy Patrol..then that would make sense.
            HD US Pickups have been used as on road Convoy Patrol in Iraq
            https://sinteur.com/index.php/2006/06/02/mad-max/

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al From 'Murica

            My experience with all of the Toyotas was that they were great until you added lots of armor. Then they were slow, but the real problem is that the brakes weren’t up to it. Honestly the best performing uparmored vehicle I drove over there was an Excursion. Now fitting it on the streets of Kabul was another matter but it drove well. Incidentally our uparmored Land Cruiser was a diesel with a stick. We also had an oddball 80 series that had a fridge in the console.

        • 0 avatar
          gtemnykh

          I think the overseas LCs have the diesel thing going for them, especially with the optional long range tanks. Conversely a freaking 8.1 Avalanche will suck down gas like no other, especially with a load on board. To draw an analogy, we’re talking a turbine-engined M1 Abrams vs a diesel T72.

          And I’ll have to agree with BAFO here, the Land Cruiser 70 is simply more overbuilt while at the same time being lighter = less stress on suspension and drivetrain components, and better in the sand I would think. The Avalanche is ultimately a more comfort oriented vehicle, even in HD guise. The LC70 series is brutally utilitarian in that it will shake your fillings out, but it can also tolerate an insane overloading condition while being beaten on mercilessly offroad. The heavy Avalanche’s IFS front end wouldn’t hack it.

          Throw in some typically shoddy/dinky GM transfer case solenoids, and it’s no contest IMO.

          Now, a SuperDuty or Ram PowerWagon HD with the front and rear lockers, now we’re talking. Although even then I’d place my bets in terms of the overall durability, repairability and offroad worthiness on the lighter LC.

          • 0 avatar
            RobertRyan

            Ram Powerwagon,has very little payload and it is not diesel. LC70 rightly is the way to go. SOE recognises that and wants to place substantial orders for it and the Hilux

        • 0 avatar
          APaGttH

          Yup. They were wildly popular with the defense contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan.

          Suspension and power enables up armor with no modification because of the 3/4 ton chassis. Rear bed perfectly accommodates .50 caliber. Inside is air conditioned because the engine and cooling system doesn’t care.

          Engine was designed to have coolant leak out and still go 50 miles at maximum operating power before going into limp mode – stupid critical for getting out of the kill zone.

          I know of up armored 2500s that ran over IEDs and were put back into service. The 3/4 ton Avalanche was a phenomenal vehicle for convoy duty in unconventional warfare.

          • 0 avatar
            RobertRyan

            Not an Off Road vehicle, that is where the L70’s and the Hilux shine. Still I would feel a lot safer with a MRAP for Convoy duty as mines can be deadly with a Pickup.

      • 0 avatar
        RobertRyan

        @APaggth
        It certainly is not up to the task of going Off Road,that is where the Hiluxes and L70’s come in. US pickups were a cheap alternative for the US Military and private contractors , could get them at throwaway prices from the US. How much is a used HD Pickup from a Industrial disposal sale cost? None of the US Pickups were new.

    • 0 avatar
      RobertRyan

      Not in a million years, Colorado is probably the least desirable out there. Not a great seller.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      @Corollaman – kinda hard to be stealthy in a USA only vehicle.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Makes sense. Stone cold reliable, battle tested, and high parts availability in non-conventional warfare situations. Also enables blending in with the indigenous easier.

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    They’ve been there and done that, except they couldn’t help but troll the Taliban a bit with “I <3 NY" and Texas state flag bumper stickers on their 2nd gen 4Runner (Hilux Surf)

    http://www.brian894x4.com/images/Mil4runner1.jpg

  • avatar
    runs_on_h8raide

    These Yotas will ‘conveniently’ land in hands of ‘ISIS’ for use out in the ‘field’ no doubt about it. Aloha Snackbar!!!

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    I do believe a primary driver behind this is cost and logistical management.

    Here we have the G Wagens of all types and sizes, from SUVs, single axle and tandem axle pickups. They cost a fortune, I heard around $150 000 each.

    The costs are hidden in the engine, drivetrain, etc. The engine must be able to run on poor high sulphur diesel to our 10ppm diesel of high quality. Also, from a logistical perspective these Toyotas will not only be more reliable, reducing maintenance, but use a lot less fuel to do the same job as a US full size SUV or pickup.

    The cost of moving materiel like fuel which is bulky and dangerous would be reduced significantly by the use of Hiluxes and 70 odd Series Landcruisers.

    A bonus is they are cheap and spares would be more readily available increasing capability and reducing costs.

    Good move by the US Military.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      @BAFO – hard to be a stealthy incognito force in Raptors, SuperCrews, and Suburbans doncha think?

      It has more to do with blending in than reliability, fuel economy or being a bulk carrier for gasoline.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al From 'Murica

        Logistics is the driver. It has to run on diesel. The more types of fuel the more you have to transport. I dont remember but I think all our trucks drank JP8 except for the route clearance trucks. They supposedly only ran DF2 (Civillian Diesel), but I ran JP8 in my Husky Buffalo when the choice was sleep on the hood or fill em’ with JP8 and drive back to my own chu for the night.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        Lou or DenverMike, I really don’t know which,
        First, blend in?? So, every time the locals see any white Toyota they think of war and harm. I don’t think when the US, Australians, Coalition arrive in town they are quite trusted. Because they will eventually leave and the town goes to sh!t more often than not.

        I’d say, the government is attempting to justify buying better vehicles that are not US made to do the job or the US would of done what Canada and Australia had done, gone out and bought vehicles suitable for this type of work already.

        The locals can’t afford to operate a cheap Russian or Chinese car, so how the hell are they going to even consider a 70 Series?

        Secondly, US pickups/SUVs are not “tough” enough. Even the G Wagen, required considerable rework to make them usable for the military.

        Really you read all of this d!ck slapping about Wranglers and how tough they are, where are they? Where are these military grade aluminium F-150s?

        Second, how can you even consider a Suburban, Raptor, etc for fighting? Boy, Denver. You obiviously didn’t learn much about trucks in the forestry industry.

        The US vehicles might be good on a US Base somewhere on operate on improved/urban environments, but in the elements they will not be durable enough to handle the rigours of war. There is a reason, 70 Series are the main vehicle of choice in the Outback and not Wrangler, F-150s etc.

        Imagine an EcoBoost in a military machine used for war.

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al From 'Murica

          Al these are vehicles used in very specialized and specific roles. Special Forces need to operate without looking Army. But when you talk mainline trucks to be used by conventional ground forces the fact is there isn’t a non tactical vehicle up to the task. That is why we roll big trucks RG31, MAXPRO, etc. with v shaped hulls. And to those talking about trucks surviving IED blasts I call bull. The Husky MDV was 8 tons of bank vault on wheels. The Buffalo was 32 tons of same. Both were great at keeping the occupants alive in a big boom. Both typically required recovery as well though I did drive a husky back about 4 miles once with a hole from an EFP slug in the side of that magnificent Benz diesel.

          Point is the HiLux is the right choice here, but not because of toughness. That is a factor but were it the only factor they’d just use the trucks conventional forces already use.

          • 0 avatar
            RobertRyan

            All South African DNA. Buffalo not much changed from the ones that fought in Namibia and Angola.. RG-31 lighter more mobile versions of the Casspir, it is actually built in SA, by BAE, used to be by Denel.
            On Road Pickups are sitting ducks, that is why emphasis on Off Road

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al From 'Murica

            The RG31 and Husky have South African DNA. Not sure on the Buffalo…It had an awful lot of Mack parts and we had them long enough that there were some green ones out there. The RG31 was derived from a South African school bus if I remember correctly.

  • avatar
    RHD

    They will be shiny and new, and so will stick out like a sore thumb until they get mismatched tires, scratches, bumps and body damage similar to the native Toyotas. They will probably not sound the same, accelerate the same, bounce the same on bumps or lean the same on turns. The differences would be pretty clear to the native bad guys, if they are at all observant.

    • 0 avatar
      Kenmore

      A hollywood props person would think of that and do the cosmetics. I’m pretty sure the spec ops guys will, too.

    • 0 avatar
      econobiker

      “The armored vehicles will be outfitted to survive a firefight while remaining incognito in global hot spots.”

      But after a firefight- the up-armored vehicles will not be incognito at all …. because they will still be in existance versus the unarmored enemy pickups burning up…

  • avatar
    VoGo

    Why not use the F-150? Its aluminum is already ‘military grade.’

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al From 'Murica

      I had somewhere around 200 pounds go off underneath a vehicle that had a significant amount of aluminum in it and I walked away with only ringing ears to show for it.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    I’m surprised there wasn’t a constraint these be GM or Ford and come equipped with either graphics or external speakers which exclaim “America F*** Yeah!”

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    The F-150 is advertised as being made of military grade aluminum. Put a Joe the Plumber sticker on it with a fixed gun and rocket launcher. This would be good advertising for Ford.

  • avatar
    kit4

    This isn’t new. Special forces have used Toyota’s before, including US Tacomas in Iraq.

    • 0 avatar
      RobertRyan

      @kit4,
      Then they switched to the Hilux, could carry more load, I e. weapons and armour.. Should be interesting to see what SOE do with ” their” Hiluxes

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        From what I understand, part of the appeal of the Tacomas were the quieter 3.4L gas motors. Better for covert ops at night than a clattery diesel (in that application).

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    I wouldn’t mind having a Hilux. It would be nice to have the option of buying a Hilux even if it was made in Mexico. The Hilux appears to be a much more capable truck than the Tacoma which is a good truck but is very outdated.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      Jeff,

      In terms of strict offroading capabilities (ie clearance, articulation, locking diffs) the US Tacoma is every bit the Hilux’s match. It’s when it comes to durability, such as the ability to take a full load on board and THEN go offroad and do that for years, that’s where the Hilux shines. That same stiff suspension that accommodates these loads limits the Hilux’s articulation offroad.

  • avatar
    PunksloveTrumpys

    Interesting that they chose to use an NZ-registered Hilux for the photo, trudging through mounds of unique native plants on our forest floors… couldn’t imagine a place further away from conflict than here, where’s the relevance?

    • 0 avatar
      RobertRyan

      @PunksloveTrumpy
      Pretty spot on about as far away from conflict as you can get, especially the South Island or ” Mainland”

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      It’s a generic stock image among many that is provided by Toyota and that is not specific to this story.

      The media uses photos like these because they are free and can be used without violating copyright laws. The US news media isn’t going to pay to fly a guy overseas just to take a picture of a foreign pickup truck, when a photo can be downloaded from Toyota’s media website in a few seconds.

      It’s not a NZ number plate, it’s just a generic black and white thing that vaguely resembles a license plate that is used for the sake of the photograph. This is typical of stock automotive photography.


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