The U.S. Army is equipping all its existing M1151 hummers (about 5,000 of
them) with Vehicle Emergency Escape (VEE) Windows, at a cost of about $3,700
per vehicle. The new window takes about an hour to install, and replaces the
existing bulletproof window with one that has a latch system. It takes about
five seconds to turn the latches and push the window forward. This enables
troops to get out of vehicles that have rolled over, or gone into the water,
and jammed the doors. If the vehicle catches fire, either from an accident or
roadside bomb, the VEE has already proved to be a lifesaver since it was
introduced last year.
Army is in the process of replacing about 40 percent of its 115,000 hummers
with a new model, the M1151, that is built to handle the additional weight of
armor protection. The key changes in the M1151 are a stronger suspension and a
larger engine (a 6.5 liter turbo-diesel). This allows the vehicle to easily
handle an additional 1,500 pounds of armor. More importantly, the armor is
easily installed, or taken off. This allows the hummers to operate more
efficiently, most of the time, without the armor.
For the last
three years, the army has been buying
14,000 M1151s, and another 8,000 M1114s (with permanent armor installed). One
major problem with the armored hummers is that they have more difficulty
operating in mountainous areas like Afghanistan and Korea. Iraq is largely
flat, at least the areas where armored hummers are needed.
has removable armor. The M1151 will also have some armor underneath, but will
otherwise look exactly like the M1114. The armor in the M1114 is added at the
end of the production process, and requires special skills and tools to remove.
Currently, the U.S. Army has over 10,000 M1114s. But the M1151 began replacing the M1114 last year.
has been around since the 1990s. Originally designed for peacekeeping
operations, it was meant for dangerous places like the Balkans. In 1998, only
about 200 M1114s a year were being produced. The M1114 was based on a earlier
armored hummer, that had served in the 1991 campaign in Kuwait.
The M1114 is
basically an armored car, with a crew of four and a payload of one ton (plus
two tons that can be towed.) A 190 horsepower engine gives it a top speed of 80
kilometers an hour and a max range (on one tank, on roads) of 480 kilometers.
All the armored protection (against 7.62mm machine-guns and rifles, bombs,
landmines and nearby bursting shells of up to 155mm) has more than doubled the
cost of the M1114 ($165,000 compared to $65,000 for an unarmored model.)
with putting two tons of armor on a hummer is that is causes more wear and tear
to the vehicle, and they burn more fuel as well. This is especially true for a
vehicle that is used day after day, in hot and dusty conditions. The extra
weight is also in places that the vehicle designers did not plan on having
additional weight. So the vehicles ride differently when armored. Drivers have
to get used to it. The army would like to get rid of the armored hummers, and
is working a new vehicle design to replace the hummer.