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Rival to the Ballistic Bronco? Navistar SOTV-B

Even before Top Gear tried (and failed) to kill a Toyota Hilux I’ve been somewhat enamored with the popular pickup breed. No doubt it’s a combination of its fabled reliability and seeing them all over the world–at least everywhere but here in the United States. Whatever the reason, it’s arguably the most pervasive truck in developing nations around the world, including those where our special operators have been known to tread.

Several months back someone sent me this brief video showing the Navistar SOTV-B

To the uninitiated, it’s a cool looking truck. If you knew it was armored up and modular, it becomes far more impressive. Here’s the concept:
A bunch of guys, no doubt bearded and well armed, as less likely to be attacked when rolling in a native vehicle. However, if they are attacked, survivability is greatly reduced. Regular car doors don’t soak up rounds very well. On the opposite end of the spectrum, you have rolling overt in a convoy. You’re more likely to be attacked, as you’re just a beacon of a target. If you are attacked though, survivability is greatly increased because you have more ass and armor.
Navistar_Hilux_SOTV001
In many situations, it’s that middle ground you crave. One of the ways to do it is to add armor to a conventional vehicle. Throwing thousands of pounds onto a vehicle that isn’t built for it significantly reduces speed, climbing and breaking ability, and overall life of the vehicle, as many early OIF and OEF vets can attest. Further still, you could put in custom suspensions etc. Now, those vehicles in the latter category definitely exist, but Navistar decided to take a different approach to the center.

They built an armored vehicle that can play dress up as something more conventional, and they brought it to SOFIC.

The SOTV series (Special Operations Tactical Vehicle) consists of two main variants:
The SOTV-A, which by all appearances is a handy vehicle to have, is obviously an armored military vehicle.
The SOTV-B, the subject of this piece, has similar capabilities but is far more covert in nature.

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SOTV-B on left, SOTV-A on right

In the literature that Navistar provided, they say, “While it may look like a typical small truck seen throughout the Middle East and around the world….”

Maybe they can’t say it for legal reasons, so I will: It looks like a Hilux. Just as importantly, it rides much like a Hilux, despite the heavy armor on board. Without the governor installed it can push over 100mph.

Now, it’s not a perfect clone–there wouldn’t be any space inside if it were. Though there are some differences between a Hilux and the SOTV-B, it’s entirely passable at any sort of range. If you’re close enough to tell that it isn’t a Hilux, no doubt you’ll be close enough to tell it’s full of bearded dudes armed to the teeth.

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The body of the SOTV-B is just a skin. It’s a skin that can readily be removed and replaced in just a couple hours. Scummed up rusty bodied vehicle? Sure. Swap to out to red and shiny if required? It can do that too. Inside is an array of electronics similar to an MRAP and the SOTV can be configured for command, intelligence, surveillance, and more. Before I stepped inside the SOTV-B I had to move the incredibly dense door. You don’t want an arm or a leg to get stuck in there, trust me. The backseat is entirely comfortable with no gear on, and while I didn’t don a plate carrier and rifle to try it that way, it appeared to have about as much room as an HMMWV. Okay, so that isn’t fantastic but remember this is supposed to look like a normal pickup. The doors are lined with MOLLE webbing so you can add whatever you need, and with an American flair, there are Nalgene bottle sized cup holders as well.

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The armored glass was the most impressive part to me. The cheapest armored glass is flat. If you’re unfamiliar, think of the armored cars that do cash pickups for stores at the mall. Functional, sure. But also ugly and obvious. The glass on the SOTV-B is curved. This is important because a flat glass will also reflect light differently than its more domestic brethren. More impressive was that I couldn’t detect visual distortion where the glass curved. Some of the less expensive curved armored glass will wildly distort what you see because it acts like a lens on eyeglasses or a magnifying glass. This forces the occupants to only look straight ahead to see clearly, significantly reducing usable FOV.

Yes, it can also ride on the inside of the CH-47. Hell yeah.

While certainly there are some downsides (they are always present), the SOTV-B looks pretty awesome. Regarding price, this definitely falls under the, “if you have to ask” rule.

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Contender to beat the Ballistic Bronco? Well…
Dirt Every Day - RECOIL's 70 Ford Bronco American Technical - 4

You can read more about the SOTV-B here or visit Navistar’s homepage here.


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