Military auto news

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US service members losing track of their cars during shipment

07/31/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Military

PORT SECURITY

The upheaval that comes with being reassigned across the globe is an issue that many military families are forced to face. We know it's tough on families, but did you know that it's increasingly difficult on the vehicles of service members and their spouses? A change in contractors for automotive shipments is making the process of relocating to a new base an even bigger challenge for soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines.

Military.com reports on the issues, which have arisen a few months after the Department of Defense brought in a new vehicle-shipping contractor, International Auto Logistics. Significant others and service members complain that IAL's online tracking system is often incorrect. That might be tolerable, were it possible to get a hold of an actual human being to locate a vehicle, but even that is being made difficult due to unanswered phone lines and full voicemails. That's left those waiting on their vehicles fed up.

A Facebook group has sprung up to catalog the complaints. "International Auto Logistics: Reviews, Complaints and Inconveniences" was just formed last week and it only has 275 members, but that hasn't stopped dozens of complaints from popping up on the group's wall, while others are looking for advice on navigating the IAL shipping minefield.

The company's president and CEO, meanwhile, blamed the issues on a "perfect storm," according to Military.com.

"It's not an excuse, but we started at the busiest time of the year," Doug Tipton told the website. IAL was originally supposed to start shipping vehicles during a slow season - late fall - so that any bugs in the system could be squashed before the busier summer months. Instead, the former contractor, American Auto Logistics, contested the $305-million contract, delaying the IAL's takeover from the end of last year to May 1.

On top of that, Tipton said the company was overwhelmed by the call volume from customers who wanted to know where their vehicles were at, an issue confounded by the hiring of new employees who lacked adequate training time.

"It has been a little rough around the edges starting up, but we're getting better every day," Tipton said.

While that should prove to be good news for servicemen and women who are yet to ship their vehicles, for those that haven't seen their rides since May (which is a fair few, considering the Facebook page), it's becoming increasingly difficult to be patient with IAL.

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US Marines testing GUSS automated vehicle that could save lives

07/22/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Government/Legal, Tech, Videos, Military, Special/Limited Editions, Off-Road

The machine you see in the video up above is the Ground Unmanned Support Surrogate. Called GUSS for short - because who doesn't like a handy-dandy nickname - this vehicle, as it's proper name suggests, is capable of operating without a driver.

It's possible to get in and drive, as you'll see in the video below, but the novel part of GUSS is that it uses a series of sensors and on-board computer programming to navigate itself over all kinds of terrain, day or night, no matter the weather. The machine above is undergoing testing by the Marine Corps Warfighting Lab during Rim of the Pacific 2014 at Kahuku Training Area on Oahu, Hawaii, according to the video's description.

Based on a military machine that's more like an armored ATV than a Jeep, GUSS is only capable of moving at speeds up to five miles per hour, which makes it a bit less useful than, say, an automated HMMWV, but it's still just a prototype, and we're sure the technology will spread.

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eBay Find Of The Day: Mercedes Unimog and Pinzgauer fleet is an army in a box

06/24/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Trucks/Pickups, Auctions, Mercedes Benz, Military

Mercedes Unimog and Pinzgauer auction

There's something paradoxically beautiful about the heavy-duty, over-engineered design of military equipment. It's not classically pretty, but army hardware just looks ready to take a beating and still be ready for more. From the Humvee to the Jeep, we have a long history of repurposing the armed forces' gear for civilian use in the US, and this eBay Motors auction in California is your chance to build a whole fleet of trucks in one fell swoop.

The auction includes six Mercedes-Benz Unimogs of three different types. Four of them are German military surplus, according to the seller, and one of them still wears its German Feuerwehr (fire department) designation. Also, if you are a bit envious of your neighbor's Mercedes G63 AMG 6X6, then you can keep up with the Jones' with a Steyr-Puch Pinzgauer 712 DK 6X6 truck of your own. Finally, there are two Stewart and Stevenson LMTVs - a winch truck and a flatbed. Among them, you should have plenty of hauling power to take whatever you want just about anywhere.

The seller is a company called Expedition Imports that specializes in providing parts for these military trucks and claims that all of the ones here are in good operating condition. The auction has a Buy It Now of $300,000 and ends on July 10. However, you don't have to drop all of that money at once. The listing includes individual prices for each vehicle with costs ranging between $18,000 and $65,000. Alternatively, you could gather eight friends, scrape together the money and have the best weekend ever of taking these trucks everywhere.

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US Army Humvee driver [w/video]

05/23/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: SUVs, Etc., Government/Legal, Military, Diesel, Off-Road

Humvee

Driven To Work is a new Autoblog series exploring the vehicles that do the work of the world and telling the stories of the people who operate them.

For the first time in two hours, it was quiet. SPC Brian Stehlin turned the HMMWV ignition switch from Run to Engine Stop, killing the agricultural clatter of the AM General diesel. The four of us, three soldiers in the US Army Reserve and me, pulled up on the combat lock handles inside of each door, freeing us from the thickly lined metal box that passes for an automotive interior. We stepped out, and for just a few seconds the late-morning symphony of insects and birds was the loudest ambient sound. We'd gotten stuck.

Before this, I didn't know that Humvees (the pronounceable common name for High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle, or HMMWV) got stuck. Raised on images, television clips and movies of Humvees racing across deserts and scaling seemingly insurmountable objects, I'd have sooner assumed that the Army's workhorse would charge through a hillside in a torquey blast than bog down before it in the slick Joliet mud.

Of course, neither the quiet nor the mud-entrenchment lasted very long. If I learned one thing during my day of HMMWV driver training with the Reserves' 416th Theater Engineer Command, it's that the Army doesn't lack for ways to get you moving again. Small arms fire from the range down the street crackled, silencing the local fauna just before orders were shouted, chains were pulled from truck beds and the pastoral air was filled once more with grumbling of turbodiesel V8s. Getting stuck turned out to be a lesson in getting free - one of just a few I'd soak up while hanging with the Army.

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Black Knight autonomous flying transport truck must be seen to be believed

05/21/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Etc., Videos, Military

Black Knight Drone

The debate over how drones should be used by the military has been a hot topic in the news for the last few years. However, a company called Advanced Tactics Incorporated has one that is harder to argue against. The Black Knight Transformer has a name from a Michael Bay movie, and the looks of a transport container with wheels and rotors, but how it actually functions is pretty cool. It's designed to autonomously evacuate casualties from the battlefield or deliver supplies.

Development is still quite early for the autonomous flying truck, and the company says this video shows its first driving and flying in public. Even at this raw stage, the drone can perform computer-controlled hover flight. The video shows that it can also be piloted remotely or from inside. If the Black Knight can live up to its promises, then it might be able to save lives. Scroll down to watch the possible future of military drones.

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British military developing GPS navigation that works without satellites

05/18/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Tech, Military

HMS Astute

Did you know that GPS doesn't work underwater? Neither did we. But apparently it's a big enough problem that the United Kingdom's Ministry of Defense is working on a futuristic solution that will allow more precise navigation by the Royal Navy's submarines and surface ships, while eventually trickling down to consumer-grade mobile devices. That all sounds great, but its abilities aren't anywhere near as cool as its name - the quantum compass.

Using subatomic particles that interact with the Earth's magnetic field (which is a phrase I never though I'd write while working at Autoblog), the accuracy of submersible navigation could be drastically improved. When a boat surfaces, pinpointing its exact location can be off by as much as half a mile. With a quantum compass, its location would be accurate to just three feet.

Not only is the quantum compass highly accurate, but it's also virtually impossible to tamper with, unlike the overworked system of GPS satellites. Because quantum mechanics. Not surprisingly, the applications for the civilian world could be immense. Cars and phones would be able to deliver pinpoint-accurate navigation information in a form that is totally constant. Hop over to GPSDaily for the details.

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Norwegian Army using Oculus Rift for tank training [w/video]

05/07/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Euro, Tech, Military

Oculus Rift Norwegian Military

Driving an armored personnel carrier in the Norwegian military might become a lot more like playing a video game in the near future. The army there has developed a way for APC drivers to use Oculus Rift virtual reality goggles to make piloting the heavy vehicles significantly easier.

If you aren't familiar with the tech, the Oculus Rift fulfills many of the promises of virtual reality from 20 years ago. It consists of a set of goggles that are connected to a regular computer, and the user's head movements are reflected in the software. It was initially pitched as a device to bring a new interactivity to video games, but it found non-gaming uses elsewhere.

In this case, four cameras each with 185 degrees of view have been installed on the exterior of the APC. Software stitches the cameras together into a single image, and it routes to the Oculus Rift goggles that the driver wears. The system provides an unobstructed view all the way around the vehicle, even with the hatch down. The track is even projected forward to know which way the the APC is moving. One of the engineers compares it to driving a tank in the video game series Battlefield, where players can get a bird's eye view while blowing things up.

The technology isn't perfect yet, and this is still a test for now. According to one of the majors running the assessment, the goggles are strenuous on the eyes. However, the evaluation cost only a few thousand dollars to setup with off-the-shelf components, rather than hundreds of thousands with conventional, military-quality hardware. The Norwegian military's goal is to eventually run the Oculus Rift goggles as an operational concept for further examination. Scroll down to see a video of the Rift in action.

Continue reading Norwegian Army using Oculus Rift for tank training [w/video]

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Start your private army with 43 Land Rover Defenders

04/21/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: SUVs, Auctions, Etc., Land Rover, Military, UK, Off-Road

Land Rover Defender 110s for sale

Living in the United States, Land Rover Defenders aren't exactly thick on the ground. Even if you are lucky enough to stumble on one that's worth buying, though, the price can easily exceed the cost of a new Land Rover LR4 or Range Rover Evoque, with the finest, low-mileage examples going nearly as much as a new, fullsize Range Rover.

The obvious solution, then, is to just buy your Defenders in bulk. Ex Army UK somehow acquired 43 Defender 110 Puma models from military surplus. And get this - they're new. Yes, the diesel-powered beasts of burden were bought by some government agency and put in storage. They were bought between 2008 and 2009 and look pretty much pristine. The downside, at least for our friends in the UK, where the Landies are located, is that the vehicles can't be operated within the UK or European Union. We promise, if they're sent to the US, we'll take very good care of them.

We won't even attempt to hazard a guess at how much it'll cost to acquire this small army of SUVs, but it probably won't be cheap. Still, if you're contemplating starting your very own militia, 43 rough-and-tumble (and new) military vehicles would be a solid start.

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GM AGL-4 takes Chevy Corvair drivetrain to new levels

03/18/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Concept Cars, Trucks/Pickups, Videos, GM, Military, Off-Road

The GM AGL-4 undergoing testing in the sixties

Suspended in dark, grainy newsreel footage like the Florida Skunk Ape or a Kraken, we know this creature actually existed even if no one seems to know where it is now. Developed by the General Motors Defense Research Laboratory in Santa Barbara, California as a Chevrolet Corvair-powered proof-of-concept for a military or agricultural implement, this is the Articulated General Purpose Logistical Truck, otherwise known as the AGL-4 or "Agile."

Stressing utility, economy and mobility, under its cab is a Corvair engine sending power to a PowerGlide transmission and on to all four wheels via a driveshaft that can be decoupled. The ability to split things up means that the nine-foot cargo bed can be swapped out for another load unit or implement, the two-wheeled cab moving from one to the other with the help of a pair of fore and aft training wheels. Speaking of wheels, the front set don't turn on a steering rack, they are locked in position with the cab and rotate independently to change direction.

The 15-foot pickup on 44-inch tires was a serious piece of kit, rated for a 1.25-ton payload, rocking 20 degrees of roll angle between cab and bed and able to sashay up a 60-percent grade. It lived and died as a concept, though, GM opting against production. We'd like to know where it is or what happened to it, so if you know, give us a clue in Comments. You can watch it jiggle and strut in the video below.

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Schwarzenegger buys a tank, wants you to crush things with him for charity

03/14/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Videos, Military, Celebrities, Humor, TV/Movies

Arnold Schwarzenegger and a tank for charity

Arnold Schwarzenegger is one of the most charismatic guys around. He could take a ridiculous movie like Commando and turn it into an action classic with his sheer force of will. Despite being in semi-retirement, Schwarzenegger appears to be having more fun than ever. His latest stunt is raffling off a chance to hang out with him for a day for charity and crush stuff in his tank. To make things even cooler, the star is proving what the heavy vehicle can do by running a variety of objects over in his latest video.

If you want to hang out with the Terminator, time is running out. There is a little over a day left to enter as of this writing. A single entry costs $10, but multiple entries get you stuff like shirts and autographed items. The money goes to After-School All-Stars, a charity that provides after-school programs. The winner gets two tickets to Los Angeles and a day with the former Governator.

Scroll down for the videos that combine a M47 Patton tank, Schwarzenegger, destruction and some awesome '80s jams. What more could you possibly want?

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