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By: Robert Janis

Polaris Homepage 

The U.S. Military’s New Secret Weapon -- ATVs!

 



It almost seems a given. All-terrain vehicles (ATVs) are perfect vehicles for military use. The four-wheeler machines could be used to haul things within military camps and could be used to overcome tough terrain our troops encounter.

However, according to Justin Burke, marketing communications specialist for Polaris Defense, the division of Polaris Industries that sells ATVs to the military, after some starts and stops, the U.S. military didn’t really begin to use ATVs until the early 2000s.

The industry started selling ATVs or side-by-sides directly to the military sometime after the terrorist attacks on the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. and the World Trade Center in New York on September 11, 2001.  Sales steadily increased during the U.S. involvement in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. “Polaris first started selling ATVs to the U.S. military in 2004,” said Burke.

The reason the military has begun using ATVs is still a little unclear. The military finding themselves in desert terrain, we assume they realized that they needed something to fill the gap between the foot soldier and the Humvee. A natural fit for that was the ATV,” said Burke.

Polaris now sells a variety of ATV models to the U.S. military. They include standard consumer products like the Sportsman XP and models that are modified specifically for military use. Polaris calls these ATVs Military Commercial Off-The-Shelf Machines. These include the MV 700 4x4, a Ranger version dubbed the MVRS700, and the RZR SW a newer model, which is based off the Polaris RZR S. Polaris modifies these models in-house to Department of Defense requirements.

“The Defense Department approached Polaris in 2002 to build a military specific ATV, and that became the MV700 4x4,” explained Burke. “The base, chassis, and engine package are what you would have found on the Polaris 700cc Twin Sportsman. We added front and rear winches, dual gas tank for extended range, run-flat tires, heavy-duty front and rear racks, a joint receiver hitch and some more military specific stuff like infrared lighting, black-out lighting, a weapon mount, the ability to haul a NATO stretcher, saddle bags, and more; and we reinforced the frame, racks, and floor board.”
Burke noted that Polaris sells other ATVs to the military which are then modified by a third party vendor. These ATVs have multiple configurations such as Fire units and Search and Rescue. The third party vendors who do the modifications specialize in each of these disciplines.

Burke said that there are about 1,000 MV700 ATVs active in Afghanistan which are being used for logistical support as well as tactical operations. This includes combat.

Burke concluded that the market is growing and currently the industry sells from 2,000 to 3,000 machines to the U.S. military a year.

Polaris Defense Web Site:
www.polarisdefense.com


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