Armor: June 30, 2004

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Mechanized warfare still makes use of a lot of specialized unarmored vehicles. One of the most enduring of these vehicles is the ROKON all-terrain motorcycle. Developed in the late 1950s, these lightweight motorcycles use a two wheel drive system, making it possible to easily move over rough terrain. The original market was hunters and outdoor types. It still is. But the U.S. Army Special Forces began using these motorcycles during the Vietnam war, and used them again during the 1991 Gulf War, and still use them today. Brazilian and Jordanian Special Forces also use them. The basic model weighs 185 pounds and can float (to get it across deep rivers or streams.) The basic fuel load is about five gallons, enough for 6-9 hours of operation (or traveling about 500 kilometers) with its ten horsepower engine. Top speed is about 72 kilometers an hour. But mainly the bikes are built to gear down and get their passenger (often carrying several hundred pounds of weapons and gear) up steep slopes. The bikes can nearly triple their range by using extra fuel tanks (holding up to nine additional gallons) in the wheel hubs. A common .accessory allows the bikes to drive electric generators or pumps. 

The Jordanian Special Forces have ordered a new model, which is heavier (at 210 pounds), and often carries water in the wheel hub tanks. The Jordanian model (the Desert Ranger) is quieter than the standard Trail Blazer. This is expected to make it an easier sale to Middle East and North African governments, who are looking for something to replace horses in terrain that four wheel vehicles cannot handle, but smugglers and bandits can. Jordan is jointly producing the Desert Ranger model with American manufacturer ROKON. The Jordanian connection makes it easier to sell to other Arab nations in the region. The ROKON bikes cost about $5,000 each, or more depending on how many accessories you add. 

 


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