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1987 Land Rover – Dillon Defender

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

Photography by: Henry Z. De Kuyper

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.


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.


Because of the minigun's appetite for delicious, wholesome, and linked 4B1T (pronounced “four-bit” and meaning “four ball rounds and one tracer”), the Defender is strewn with quick-detach mounting points for ammo cans and cargo bins. These were adapted from aircraft seat tracks, allowing for secure, yet quickly released containers to be snapped into place. Think Picatinny rails, but for trucks.

IR floodlights provide illumination for driving under goggles, while a winch bumper offers plenty of tie-down and recovery points. In order to handle the extra weight, ASFIR springs and shocks can be incorporated into the kit, depending on the wishes of the user. One item that is very rarely touched, however, is the engine. Although the 2.5L naturally aspirated diesel lump produces barely enough horsepower to get out of its own way, it's bulletproof and will run on marginal fuel in any environment. “I don't need it to sound cool. I don't need it to go fast. I just need it to get from point A to point B every single time I turn the key,” says Leavitt. And really, who's going to have the balls to challenge you at a stoplight when you're rocking a minigun up top?

Although the Land Rover was the first and obvious choice as a base vehicle, others are undergoing fitment, including Mercedes G wagons, Toyota HiLux trucks, and several UTVs. So, next time you see a Polaris RZR at your local big-box sporting goods store, think how cool it would look with an M134 on the roof.


1987 Land Rover Defender
2.5L I4
4WD/Five-speed Manual

1 Lights
Infra red driving lights provide illumination for driver and commander while running in darkness under NODs. Bull bar has plenty of tie-down points for camo nets and personal kit.
2 Optics
Mounted to the rear bumper is a telescopic mast holding a FLIR TacFLIR 230 RSTA system with both visible and IR stabilized cameras. Vehicle commander can control the ball from his station and has a color monitor which can provide 360 degree views while the Defender is hull down behind cover. Exoskeleton folds down to the rear and provides rollover protection to crew. FLIR system cost: $165,000.
1 Winch
Substantial winch bumper has aircraft seat track at strategic points for QD storage containers.
2 Tail Gun
Tail gunner provides rear protection with M240B while M134D can rotate 360 degrees. Ring mount has its own power supply, so there's nothing to restrict its swing.
3 Air Tank
Air tank provides power for telescopic mast, tools and tires.
4 Motor
The inline-four stock Land Rover engine is utterly reliable and long lived, even in extremely dusty desert conditions.

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