December 22, 2009:
The U.S. Army has ordered another 27 M1200 Armored Knight vehicles, at a cost of about $370,000 each. These are wheeled armored vehicles, similar to the Stryker, that carry the equipment needed to quickly bring in guided bombs, missiles and shells. The M1200 contains a laser designator, a laser range finder and GPS, plus radios and computers that take target position data and transmit it to distant artillery units, or bombers overhead, and get the firepower on the target within minutes. Previously, all this gear was mounted on an unarmored hummer. But the M1200 enables the vehicle to operate in an area where bullets and shells are flying about, and still get the job done.
The armored vehicle the M1200 is built on the 4x4 LAV-150 Commando. This 11 ton vehicle mounts a machine-gun on the turret, but the real "weapons" in the turret are the laser designator and rangefinder. The laser designator enables the most precise smart bombs (that can be sent through small openings, like a window) to be used.
The first 19 M1200s were delivered two years ago, with another 40 last year and, eventually, 107. The M1200 carries a crew of three or four and, because most have seen duty in Iraq or Afghanistan, an IED jammer come as standard equipment.