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Preview – Transport – Dillon Defender

Photography by Henry Z. De Kuyper

This Land Rover Has Everything You Need for a Trip to the Mall. Assuming the Mall is in Mogadishu.

This is, without a doubt, the best tooled-up vehicle we’ve ever featured in these pages. Why? There are many reasons, but we’ll start with three. The kinder, gentler end of the force continuum is handled by a pair of 240 Bravos. But when things get a little hairy, the crew has the option to employ the persuasive power of 3,000 rounds of 7.62mm, courtesy of an M134D minigun.

Conceived as a complete bolt-on kit, the Dillon Defender package allows a standard Land Rover GS 110 to transform into a gun truck, requiring only basic handtools and an afternoon’s worth of spannering to complete the job. According to Mike Leavitt, a former Marine and Baja racer who is Dillon Aero’s brains behind the project, Special Forces teams had been using local talent and materials while downrange to fashion gun mounts on whatever vehicles they happened to be using.

Preview   Transport   Dillon Defender photoPreview   Transport   Dillon Defender photo

With the almost universal availability of the Land Rover, it was a natural choice as the basis for the Dillon Defender, creating a dedicated fire support vehicle that could overwhelm any enemy with a devastating volume of accurate fire. “Because of our relationship with a lot of those guys, they asked us for a palletized kit that would allow conversion without a whole lot of modifications to the vehicle,” Leavitt says. “We came up with a sectionalized system that breaks down into a 4×4-foot cube, and with it, there’s no drilling or welding needed, just basic handtools.”

The DD’s beefy bumpers bolt up to the stock frame mounts and, once in place, serve as the foundation for the rest of the system. Originally, the rollcage and ring mount were supported by a framework of one-piece vertical members, but that got refined further once word got around the SF community. According to Leavitt, “Some guys from Fort Bragg came forth with the requirement for a vehicle that would be ready to fight within 60 seconds of being deployed from a Chinook.”

As it stood, the original Dillon Defender was too tall to fit inside the cargo bay, so a system of locking hinges was incorporated into the rollcage to allow it to fold backward. Obviously, with 500 pounds of ammo in the ready-use racks plus the weight of the gun and batteries, standing the assembly back up is no easy task. “During demonstrations, we cheat a little by running the winch cable over the hood and attaching it to the rollcage,” Leavitt says. “As the driver backs out of the Chinook, he bumps the winch button and up she goes.” Spring-loaded locking pins within the hinges deploy automatically, ensuring a solid joint.

Preview   Transport   Dillon Defender photoPreview   Transport   Dillon Defender photo

Preview   Transport   Dillon Defender photoPreview   Transport   Dillon Defender photo For the rest of this article, subscribe here: RECOIL Issue 13