Armor: Normal 4x4 Is No Longer Enough


October 10, 2017: In early September Poland ordered 118 locally made LPU-4 long range reconnaissance vehicles for $212,000 each (including maintenance and training support). The LPU-4 light tactical vehicle was introduced in 2012 as the LPU-1 and described as easily adapted to different uses. Thus the LPU-4 recon version which was modified to meet Polish forces requirement for very light and fast high mobility 4x4 vehicle. The LPU-4 weighs 2.6 tons (loaded with up to 900 kg of cargo and weapons and three troops). Such a configuration was thought to provide its crew autonomous operation capability for seven days. The LSU-4 is air transportable by C-130 or by slung under a helicopter and capable of withstanding parachute drop.

The LSU-4 has an open design with a roll cage and flexible floor ballistic material that will protect passengers against landmines (NATO level one STANAG 4569). To ensure sufficient off-road capability the LPU-4 has a 190 hp engine and run-flat tires. Moreover LPU-4 characteristics are more like an ATV (all-terrain vehicle) than your typical hummer type 4x4 military vehicle. Its turning radius is very low, ditches or bushes are not a serious obstacle. The cabin is open, but there is an option to enclose it. The original LPU-1 was based on Toyota Hilux chassis but LPU-4 uses modified Mitsubishi L200 chassis. LSU-4 has a range of 400 kilometers cross country (at a top speed of 100 kilometers an hour) and 800 kilometers on roads (at top speed of 140 kilometers an hour).

LSU-4, as many have already noted, is sort of a cross between the ATVs popular with Western special operations forces and the hummer vehicle. For example one of the more popular special operations ATVs is the MRZR4. This vehicle weighs 1.5 tons (loaded with nearly 700 kg of fuel, passengers, and cargo) and is also a 4x4 vehicle. It is 3.6 meters (11.8 feet) long and has no doors, four seats, and a steel framework on top which is usually left open for maximum visibility. The vehicle is optimized for cross country operations and also has an 88 horsepower engine. Fuel capacity is 7.25 gallons (27.4 liters) and range depends on what sort of terrain is being crossed. MRZR4 can tow a load of up to 680 kg.

LPU-4 is only one of many vehicle procurement programs because underway in Poland. One of the largest is the purchase of at least 913 high-mobility transport vehicles (with an option for nearly 2800 more) to replace Cold War era HONKER and UAZ Russian designs. Poland is currently undergoing the very costly process of phasing out Soviet type Cold War era equipment from its armed forces and replacing it with more modern designs similar to what other NATO members use. -- Przemysław Juraszek