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CAMP PENDLETON — A menacing vehicle with a cobra-like front and a lightweight camouflage frame — equipped to seize an airfield and do reconnaissance missions — made its debut Wednesday, Feb. 7 during a military expo showcasing new warfighting technology on the base.
The concept Nikola Reckless UTV (Utility Task Vehicle), which can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in three seconds on tires enhanced with Kevlar, has a lot to live up to. It was named after Staff Sgt. Reckless, a small mare that during one day in the Korean War Battle for Outpost Vegas in March 1953 made 51 trips carrying ammunition to the front lines and transporting wounded Marines back.
The fully electric vehicle was produced by Nikola Motor Company in Salt Lake City. The company has invested $500,000 to produce four prototypes. Each vehicle would cost $85,000.
“It is a workhorse with a never-quit attitude,” said Andy Christian, Nikola’s director of defense. “Its unique massive battery allows you to take energy from it and power anything, even a command center. It has an infra-red beam that can be used with night vision and a remote weapons system machine gun that can be controlled by a joystick anywhere in the vehicle. It’s light enough to go on a MV-22 osprey.”
The Reckless, along with a new Joint Light Tactical Vehicle produced by Wisconsin-based Oshkosh Defense and an amphibious combat vehicle made by BAE Systems in Arlington Va., were highlights during the first day of the 27th annual two-day expo, organized by the Marine Corps League and Marine Corps Installations West.
The event brings together Marines and defense personnel with military equipment manufacturers. This year it also includes a field fitness competition.
“It’s an opportunity to interact with the industry that makes the products to protect us and offer insight based on our experiences to make sure they apply to what we do,” said Lt. Gen. Lewis Craparotta, commanding general of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force.
The Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, with a cab area that withstands explosions, has been purchased for use in the Marine Corps. It will replace the Humvee and is expected to go into service at Camp Lejeune, N.C., in 2019, military officials said.
Sixteen amphibious combat vehicles are being tested at Camp Pendleton and at Marine Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms. BAE Systems is one of two manufacturers vying for a contract with the Department of Defense. Whichever vehicle is selected in June, it would replace the Marine Corps’ 40-year-old assault amphibious vehicles, many of which require 12 to 15 hours of service for every hour of use.
The BAE vehicle holds 16 Marines, swims at 6 knotts and can get up to 70 mph on land. It has 360-degree sensors and remote weapons stations.
“We moved the technology forward 40 years, so Marines can survive in combat,” said Ray Coia, director for BAE Systems and a veteran Marine who served 30 years.
Nikola’s Christian, of Temecula, served in the Marine Corps for 28 years and was the commanding officer of the 1st Marine Raider Battalion and the Special Operations Task Force North Command at Mosul, Iraq. He said having the right equipment is critical to the mission.
“We think military vehicles will be electric in the next 10 years,” he said. ___
This article is written by Erika I. Ritchie from Orange County Register and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to email@example.com.