U.S. commandos may have found a solution, however. Undisclosed elements of U.S. Special Operations Command recently entered into a contract with vehicle maker Polaris for new, larger, “ultra-light” combat vehicles that can carry up to nine infantryman, but are still small enough to fit inside a CH-47 helicopter and handle rocky, mountainside terrain.
The vehicle is on display this week for the first time at the Association for the United States Army’s annual conference in Washington, company officials said. The DAGOR (pronounced “dagger”) is about 4,500 pounds empty, and can carry about 3,250 pounds of equipment, weapons and people. It can be dropped by parachute from aircraft onto the battlefield.
It represents an expansion for Polaris, of Minneapolis, Minn., which sells snowmobiles, motorcycles and off-road vehicles to civilians. The company has sold smaller ATVs to Special Operations units for years, but decided to experiment building larger vehicles about two years ago, and pitched the idea to Special Operations troops, said Rich Haddad, Polaris general manager.
U.S. and allied commandos have been testing the DAGOR for more than a year, but the first production-quality vehicle will be shipped to Special Operations troops in November, Haddad said. They cost about $150,000 each.
The vehicle isn’t for heavy firefights. Although Polaris is examining adding armor kits for it, it is designed to move light infantrymen around the battlefield quickly in places they otherwise would have to walk.