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AUSA 2021: Mack Defense seeks to expand military activities

14th October 2021 - 09:00 GMT | by Scott Gourley in Washington DC

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Mack Defense M917A3 Heavy Dump Truck, pictured in August 2021 before a US Army test. (Photo: US Army/Sgt 1st Class Matthew Keeler))

US manufacturer seeks more uses for its M917A3 Heavy Dump Truck chassis.

Mack Defense intends to expand its presence in the US tactical wheeled vehicle sector, company executives revealed in a private media briefing during the AUSA annual exhibition on 11-13 October in Washington DC.

The company aims to leverage its M917A3 Heavy Dump Truck chassis for an emerging US Army requirement to procure a 40t vehicle in the Family of All Terrain Cranes.

Mack Defense aims to sell a modified M917A3 chassis to Manitowoc Crane, which will them mount a crane that it has developed and also serve as prime contractor if successful in the tender.

The source selection process is currently underway for the programme, which includes a total requirement for 262 units.

The M917A3 heavy dump truck is already a cornerstone vehicle for Mack Defense, after the US Army awarded an IDIQ contract in May 2018 worth up to $296 million for 683 trucks in armour-capable and armoured configurations.

Approximately 30% of the trucks will be used by active army units while the remainder will be employed by the National Guard and Army Reserve.

Following a series of tests, the company received its first production order in November 2020 for 99 trucks: nine for active units and 90 for the Army Reserve. A second order in March 2021 added an additional 56 units.

The first production vehicle was handed over on 23 September.

The M917A3 is based on the commercial Granite chassis, of which Mack Defense manufactures approximately 15,000 units every year. The M917A3 design utilises 80% of the standard commercial chassis design with 20% being unique elements, ranging from tow pintles to CARC paint.

Mack Defense president and CEO David Hartzell noted that the M917A3 includes a purpose-built armoured cab.

‘The interfaces are all the same between the steering and brake lines,’ he added. ‘So it's very easy to switch over to make a truck from armour-ready to armoured.’

With a total Army Acquisition Objective of 1,246 units, Hartzell said that the FY2022 budget includes funding of $9.9 million, with potentially more to come following congressional amendments.

Efforts are also underway to maintain the same level of funding for FY2023-FY2025 and Mack Defense is pursuing orders from National Guard and Army Reserve to maintain the production line.

Mack Defense is also engaged in the Canadian Department of National Defence 9.5t Medium Support Vehicle System – Standard Military Pattern programme, which encompasses five vehicle variants on a single commercial truck platform in addition to an armoured protection system.

Looking into the future, Hartzell said the company is interested in further modifications to the M917A3 in order to meet emerging US Army requirements in the Common Tactical Truck programme. This seeks to replace multiple heavy vehicle classes with a baseline design that exploits the latest commercial technologies.

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