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Armored Cars: Navistar Defense MaxxPro

March 16, 2015

US Navistar MaxxPro

It’s the ugly poster child of today’s mine-resistant vehicles. Serving with distinction in Iraq, Afghanistan, and multiple police departments across the US, the MaxxPro is emblematic of all other MRAPs that have emerged since.

The MaxxPro arrived at a delicate time for the US military and competed with a similar 4×4, the GDLS Cougar. During the occupation of Iraq, the AM General Humvee was being roadside bombed to the scrap yard. Its armor was no match for rockets and IEDs.

A larger, tougher vehicle was needed. Something akin to the mine resistant trucks used by the South African Defense Force (SADF) during the restive Apartheid era.

Navistar Defence, a little-known defense contractor, launched a joint venture with Israel’s Plasan to produce the MaxxPro, a brand name for “maximum protection.” Navistar Defence’s advantage over its competition was its closed loop supply chain. Navistar Defence assembled each vehicle in its Massachusetts plant and sourced parts from its own vast product range.

The 7000-MV truck cab on a 6x6 chassis.

The 7000-MV truck cab on a 6×6 chassis.

The resulting MaxxPro featured a 7000-MV truck cab manufactured by Navistar Defence–recognizable for the diamond crest above the grille–mounted on an independent suspension system with an underlying V-hull. This guaranteed the MaxxPro’s survivability from mine blasts. A combat-ready MaxxPro carries two crew, a turret gunner, and five passengers who enter from behind via a short staircase.

The encumbrance of its height, reinforced windshield, and air-sealed doors doesn’t mean it sacrifices visibility either. It has at least two pairs of rear-view mirrors, a 360-degree turret, and six windows, albeit covered in slat armor. Over the years multiple upgrades have been added like so-called “RPG nets” for foiling the ubiquitous rockets.

From 2007 to 2011, the US Marine Corps were the biggest customers for the MaxxPro, pouring billions for nine different contracts. Although the MaxxPro isn’t amphibious, it can ford through three feet of water. Weighing between 20 and 25 tons, a MaxxPro’s armor is at STANAG IV, able to resist incoming 7.62mm and 12.7mm rounds.

Officially, there are seven variants of the MaxxPro but at least 16 different trucks are sold by Navistar Defence that use the same cab. The heart of the MaxxPro is its 330 horsepower MaxxForce turbo diesel engine, the specific type of which is tailored for each variant, be it troop transport, ambulance, cargo, or recovery.

The US military is in the process of decommissioning its vast fleet of MaxxPro’s. Too heavy and expensive for air transport, 1,000 were scrapped in Afghanistan last year.  In late 2014 the DSCA announced the acquisition of 4,569 MaxxPro’s by the UAE and a smaller sale to Pakistan worth $198 million for 160 MaxxPro’s.

Navistar International is a automotive company that replaced the troubled International Harvester in 1986. With a storied heritage of making trucks and agricultural machinery, Navistar Defence was created in 2003 to service contracts with the Pentagon.

Navistar Defence’s big break came in 2007 when it was awarded a $623 million to build mine-resistant trucks for the USMC. Navistar’s solution was using the 7000-MV cab on a new chassis and suspension system. This became the MaxxPro. Navistar Defence claims it has built 9,000 MaxxPro’s by 2012. These have been sold in limited numbers to 14 other countries.