With the heavy presence of military, government and civilian VIPs in hot spots like Afghanistan and the Middle East, the need for vehicles that can resist ambush attacks arguably has never been greater. To meet that need, the Streit Group has seen demand for its armored vehicles has increased accordingly.
At the Association for the United States Army Annual Meeting and Exposition, held in Washington Oct. 22-25, Streit USA displayed a Chevrolet Suburban sport utility vehicle that offered passengers military-grade protection from such attacks.
Built at the Streit USA facility in North Charleston, S.C., for tactical response and military escort, the Suburban features five-point seat belts and 110-volt power outlet strips at each passenger seat, special racking inside and on the roof for military gear, and an enhanced cargo area.
The military-grade tires and wheel assembly are capable of functioning after attacks by .50-caliber machine guns, AK-47 or M-16 assault rifles, or two DM51 hand grenades. Streit can outfit any manufacturers’ vehicles with similar packages. When the company buys Suburbans from General Motors, the manufacturer specifically supplies them with vehicles intended for sale in the countries they likely would see action. For example, Suburbans likely headed for Iraq will not have the U.S. emissions package, but will have the upgraded air-conditioning system intended for use in a climate much hotter than North America’s.
The windows are reinforced with 72-millimeter laminated glass. Critical items under the hood, such as the stock 12-volt battery, and another 12-volt battery positioned next to the electronic control module, all are shielded with ballistic protection. A heavy-duty full metal skid plate replaces the plastic undercarriage skid plate that comes on the Suburban’s consumer packages, and the blast protection on the undercarriage and throughout the frame is designed to resist small mines.
Streit USA has sold “a few hundred” such packages to U.S. and foreign customers, including the Army, the National Security Agency, and the FBI, “during the last couple of years,” said Don MacMillan, the company’s territory director for North and South America. Upgrade costs can vary according to mission requirements. The vehicle on display at the AUSA Meeting and Exposition cost about $200,000, MacMillan said.