According to LCDR Tim Hawkins, a spokesman for U.S. Special Operations Command:
“Since 2018, U.S. Special Operations Command has fielded a modular armor kit designed to provide ballistic threat protection for personnel inside the [M1288] Ground Mobility Vehicle (GMV) 1.1. The armor kit can be installed or uninstalled at the field maintenance level, allowing personnel to base the amount of armor used on the mission and threat environment. Additionally, SOCOM has also fielded a new Gunner’s Protection Kit for the GMV 1.1, which provides increased ballistic protection for the gunner with improved 360-degree mobility of the system.”
The USSOCOM GMV 1.1 Background
USSOCOM awarded GDLS Flyer® Defense a contract worth $562 million USD to purchase up to 1,300 M1288 GMV 1.1s from 2014 to 2020 to complement the USSOCOM-modified M1165 High Mobility Multipurpose Vehicles (HMMWVs) Ground Mobility Vehicles in SOCOM inventory.
The GDLS Flyers come in two variants, the Flyer® 60 and Flyer® 72. Both are air-transportable with the Flyer 60 version being sixty inches wide to fit inside the confines of the United States Air Force’s Special Operations Command’s (AFSOC) CV-22 “Osprey” tiltrotor special operations craft. The Flyer 72 is seventy-two inches wide and could be internally transported inside the U.S. Army’s CH-47 or Special Operations Command’s MH-47G “Chinook” helicopters flown by the U.S. Army’s elite Task Force 160th “Night Stalkers”Aviation Regiment, or internally transported aboard U.S. Air Force or AFSOC C-130 “Hercules.”
The USSOCOM M1288 GMV 1.1 is 72 inches wide and thus only fits inside the C/MH-47 and C-130, but not inside the CV-22. The M1288 GMV 1.1 can also be sling-loaded from the U/MH-60. GMV 1.1 Operators range from the U.S. Army special forces (Green Berets) to Marine Special Warfare Command (MARSOC’s “Force Recon Marines”) to Naval Special Warfare Command (NAVSPECWARCOM’s Navy SEALs).
Able to seat two special forces Operators in front and having two seats in the back, the M1288 GMV 1.1 has a semi-open cargo bed in the rear and an open circular hatch and turret ring for a pintle-mounted primary weapon. Tie-down hooks and attachment points along the vehicle allow for the mounting of add-on armor, cargo, and stowage.
The M1288 is powered by a 2.0L GM DOHC 195 Horsepower Bioturbocharged intercooled engine feeding off JP8 Diesel fuel from a 26-gallon fuel tank. It uses a Tiptonic six-speed automatic transmission for two high 4×2 forward speeds and a full time low-speed for 4X4 driving. The M1288 GMV 1.1 has power assist four-wheel disc brakes with Automatic Braking System (ABS) as standard. 4-wheel coil over shocks offer adjustable independent suspension for a variable air ride. The vehicle can haul 5,700 pounds, has a top speed of 95 MPH, a range of 500 miles at 40 MPH (or 300 miles with Mission Package) and is able to traverse inclines of 60% and side slopes up to 40%. Ground clearance is 19 inches. Fording depth without preparations is 30-inches (76 cm). The unarmored GMV 1.1 has a curb weight of 5,200 pounds and a gross vehicle weight of 11,200 pounds.
The unarmored M1288 GMV 1.1 has a length of 182” (462 cm) and 193” with forward winch and pushbar. Height is 72.25” which is adjustable for internal transport. The tiresize is rated at 12.5 x 37 R17 with bead lock or VFI run flat.GDLS Flyer® Defense offers Central Tire Inflation System (CTIS) as optional.
SOCOM or special forces’ branch communications equipment could run a gamut of customized choices. Some Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4SIR) equipment could include:
- Secure/encrypted Force XXI Battle Command Brigade and Below (FBCB2) for enemy and friendly force identification and tracking (Blue Force Tracker)
- Secure/encrypted Satellite Communications (SATCOM)
- Secure/encrypted Very High Frequency (VHF) and Ultra-High Frequency (UHF) Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio System (SINCGARS) and MBITR radios
- Secure/encrypted military Global Positioning System (GPS) navigation
- Secure Electronic Warfare (EW) and Electronic Countermeasures (ECM) for computer and radio jamming, eavesdropping, anti-IED protection, and combat SIR made possible by a power-elevated/lowered mast over the rear bumper of the armored M1288.
Primary Ground Mobility Vehicle 1.1 armament usually consists of one of the following:
- 12.7mm M2HB heavy machine gun, or
- 7.62mm M134D Dillon Aero™ gatling gun, or
- 12.7mm gatling gun such as the Dillion Aero™ 503D, or
- 40mm MK-19 or MK-47 automatic grenade launcher, or
- 30mm Bushmaster II cannon, or
- TOW anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) launcher.
Optional secondary pintle-mounted armament usually consists of 7.62mm M240 machine guns, or 5.56mm M249 Squad Automatic Weapons mounted on the doors for the unarmored GMV 1.1s. SOCOM is beginning to field a Remote Weapon Station as the primary armament.
With these above capabilities, GDLS Flyer® Defense promotes three mission configuration variants for the GMV 1.1 vehicle:
- The three-man unarmored Long-Range Surveillance (LRS) for target acquisition, weather, chemical, or radiation monitoring, and damage assessment, carrying a 10-day supply endurance that includes C4SIR equipment, sensors, cameras, and a 30mm Bushmaster II cannon.
- The unarmored Special Forces Mobility Vehicle with four men (driver, commander, gunner, and one passenger), supplies for five days, and conducts daily combat operations, K-9 transport, Search and Rescue, or Mountain Warfare and is armed with two pintle weapons.
- The armored six-man Light Reconnaissance Vehicle with integrated C4SIR sensors, armor kit installed, 30mm Bushmaster II, and side-door supply bins.
GDLS Flyer® Defense also makes a Flyer® 72 Tactical Utility Vehicle (TUV) version with an armored two door cab and an elongated open cargo bed that is rated to carry 6,000lbs of payload.
The TUV’s cargo bed can carry a nine-man assault team on bench seats with four pintle-mounted 7.62mm M240 machine guns, or a four dog K-9 shelter, or four litter racks for the ambulance variant, or an enclosed C4 or ambulance shelter carrier kit, or a 120mm mortar with 80 rounds of ammunition. The TUV could act also as the logistics resupply and configurablemultirole vehicle while the M1288 GMV 1.1s surge ahead to reconnoiter or attack.
According to LCDR Hawkins, “The [TUV PAX 3] variants [in the August 2018 Flyer® Defense PDF sheets] shown in the brochure are not in SOCOM’s inventory.” USSOCOM declined to specifically comment on if the Flyer® 72 TUV PAX 3 would be a future acquisition possibility although SOCOM did mention that in special situations, a “soft purchase” could be made for special forces to use such a vehicle type for a particular mission instead of entering full production.
The M1288 GMV 1.1 Up-Armor Package, Turret Armor, and Remote Weapon Station
An armor kit contract, worth $30 million, was awarded on 14 April, 2014 with production scheduled to start in the second half of 2014 and deliveries beginning in 2017 to 2018. The TenCate™ add-on armor kit consists of armor ballistic plates and transparent armor windows over the basic structure and crew cabin of the unarmored GMV 1.1, giving it 360-degree 4-door protection for the cab, windows, windshield, roof, all four-wheel wells, rear cargo area, and the underbody.
According to open web sources, ballistic armor protection from the TenCate™ kit is rated at VPAM Level B6, or protection against 7.62X51mm NATO small arms fired at a distance of 30 meters at 833 meters per second. In addition, the armored GMV 1.1 offers hand grenade protection, unexploded artillery sub-munition protection, and protection against small anti-personnel explosives thrown under the vehicle. The four armored doors have sliding gunports to allow Operators to fire their weapons from within the protection of the vehicle.
“SOCOM has fielded a new Gunner’s Protection Kit for the GMV 1.1, and the Common Remotely Operated Weapon Station is slated for installation this year. CROWS will allow personnel to operate the primary weapon systems from inside the GMV using a handheld engagement system. The installation of both CROWS and the armor kit will provide personnel encapsulated protection against ballistic threats. U.S. Special Operations Command currently uses the M153 CROWS variant, which is the same variant used by conventional forces. There is no model number for the new GPK used on Special Operations Forces platforms.”
The Gunner’s Protection Kit (GPK) is essentially an open armored tub over the M1288’s turret ring that uses ballistic bolt-on armor plates and a frontal gun shield. A rear turret bustle bin and two side racks allow for the storage of ammunition or jerry cans. The GPK protects the standing gunner’s torso when firing the primary weapon. In theory, the M1288’s GPK could be modified to accept armored walls and a gun shield incorporating armored transparent ballistic windows as used by the conventional U.S. land forces.
The Kongsberg Defense™ M153 PROTECTOR CROWS II Remote Weapons Station (RWS) usually accepts either a M2HB, MK-19, MK-47, or M240 that is fed from an enlarged ammo box on the left side. Sighting, aiming, and fire control is through daytime TV and nighttime thermal imaging cameras on the RWS. The stabilized M153 CROWS II allows the crew to safely fire the primary weapon from inside the armored GMV via a monitor and joystick for better first-round hit, thus negating the need for the gunner to expose himself to hostile fire when standing in the open hatch to fire the non-stabilized primary weapon via iron sights. In theory, the GMV 1.1 could also accept the upgraded CROWS-J RWS with coaxial-attached Javelin anti-tank missile (ATGM) on the side, giving the GMV 1.1 a ready-to-fire, fire-and-forget guided missile out to 2.5 miles. The Javelin launcher would be reloadable from spare missile rounds carried aboard the vehicle. Another CROWS-J offers the option of three weapons in one RWS, usually a 30mm cannon coaxial with a 7.62mm M240 medium machine gun in lieu of the Javelin launcher, thus giving the armored M1288 very potent medium to long-range firepower for such a small and nimble special forces vehicle.
M153 CROWS II, in theory, could also be replaced with the Low-Profile CROWS II as mounted on the U.S. Army’s M1A2 Abrams Main Battle Tank System Enhancement Package Version 3 (M1A2 SEP V3) to reduce the height profile on such a small tactical wheeled vehicle. With CROWS installed, the M1288 does not require the Gunner’s Protection Kit.
The M1288’s TenCate armor and GPK turret armor increase the vehicles weight, which might affect the performance and stability of the vehicle. LCDR Hawkins comments on any stability issues, “We do not have vehicle stability concerns at this time; however, efforts are underway to improve the vehicle’s suspension. New suspension is scheduled to be integrated by the end of the year on new vehicles during production and on existing vehicles during scheduled maintenance.”
To add, at the “2017 Special Operations Forces Warrior Industry Collaboration & JSOC Capabilities and Technology Expo Solutions Event,” a presentation detailed the upgrades and improvements slated for the GMV 1.1:
- “Drivetrain and locking differentials Ground Mobility Vehicle (GMV 1.1) – Technology that will allow for transaxle replacement to increase reliability.
- Suspension technology (GMV 1.1) – Suspension upgrades/replacement to increase performance, durability, and reliability. Semi-active seating that ties into the upgraded suspension working together to isolate occupants from terrain induced shock loading.
- Cost reduction solutions for brakes, suspensions, C4ISR, etc. for Light Tactical All-Terrain Vehicle (LTATV), Non-Standard Commercial Vehicle (NSCV), GMV 1.0 and GMV 1.1 – Novel approaches to reduce the lifecycle costs (namely production and sustainment) associated with braking, suspension, and other vehicular systems. Current C4ISR components (antennas, mounts, cables, etc.) are expensive and long lead in nature. We are targeting reduced costs, improved lead times, and equivalent capability to our current SOF suite of C4ISR (LoS, SATCOM, ECMS).
- Low Cost, lightweight, rapidly attached/utilized tow bars (10k-20k lbs.) (GMV 1.1, GMV 1.0) – Quality built, sustainable tow bars that are lightweight, low cost, and rapidly attached for use on the medium family of vehicles (10k-20k lbs.)
- Shock Mitigating seating (LTATV, GMV 1.1) – Novel approaches for LTATV seating and/or seating material(s) that will mitigate the shocks associated with off road vehicle driving.
- Brake technology (GMV 1.1) – Brake upgrades/replacement to increase performance, durability, and reliability.
- Visual, Audible, and Thermal Signature Reduction (LTATV, GMV 1.1) – Novel reduction approaches in addressing visual (camouflage), audible (mufflers, sound suppression), and thermal (heat dissipation/reduction) signatures.
- Low profile Common Remotely Operated Weapon System (GMV 1.1) – Looking for small and light solutions that can utilize a wide range of weapons for a smaller tactical vehicle.
- Mature 12 Volt battery technology for cold temp start and/or reduced size without degrading Cold Cranking Amperage or AMP hours (NSCV, GMV 1.1) – Mature battery technologies that can withstand cold start scenarios down to -50 F and also extend the timeline for silent watch. Reducing size but not performance is ideal as well.
- Tire technology and non-pneumatic efforts (GMV 1.1, LTATV) – Novel approaches addressing wheel/tire assemblies to allow for better suitability in soft soils and terrains. Tire technologies to allow for a broader range of environmental terrains (sand, mud, and rock), to include non-pneumatic types.
- Lightweight Transparent Armor (NSCV, GMV 1.1) – Novel lightweight and cost- effective technologies that can replace current heavy transparent armor solutions on vehicle platforms.
Another possible upgrade could be the addition of airless tires that use a hollow polymer mesh construction over a treaded traction tire. Currently, no formal solicitation for airless tires has been made for the M1288 GMV 1.1s.