ABOUT HENDRICK COMMANDO®

Enabling the warfighter through versatility is the foundation on which Hendrick Commando is built. To provide a tool in ultra light mobility that can perform across the widest range of missions. A low cost vehicle that is safe and capable on multiple terrains and environments, adaptable to application by those out front, and efficient in operation and sustainment.

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Hendrick Commando went from start of production to the first vehicles fielded OCONUS in nine months. Along the way Hendrick Commandos were mobility validated, received man-optional robotic capability, had various mission systems integrated by Government labs, completed safety evaluation, and earned their wings with CH-47 flight certification. Initial units saw first combat within weeks, and operators reported the vehicles made a difference for them.

Hendrick Commando is manufactured in the United States. Jeep Wrangler® - built by workers in the same Ohio factory since 1941 - becomes a Commando at Hendrick Dynamics in North Carolina. Hendrick Commandos are available only to government agencies and commercial clients.

Hendrick Commando delivers Agile Strength™ to demanding operators.


Like its forefather more than 70 years ago, Commando Jeep was born for a mission. This mission supports small units operating in austere locations. Dominance for them requires the right blend of agility and strength.

These operators face a demanding spectrum of activities – so versatility is paramount. There are heavy vehicles that provide protection at the expense of mobility. And there are recreational side-by-sides that are nimble, but lack in payload, range of use, and typically require gasoline.

NOT A NEW SCENARIO

The Army faced very similar circumstances in the lead up to World War II. The Allies’ truck of the prior war – an innovative 4WD called the Jeffrey Quad – could handle terrain, but was overtly conspicuous and slow.

The lighter end of the stable was the modified motorcycle with sidecar. The setup was created during the First World War for use behind the lines and in reconnaissance. The carts with motorcycle engines and seating positions were inexpensive and could carry a light machine gun and litter. But the payload capacity and versatility were not sufficient.

CALL TO ACTION

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After evaluating available light vehicles, in 1940 the Quartermaster Corps put out a call to automakers to fill the gap. While the US observed the global conflict escalating, they sought a light, all-terrain vehicle that was compact and cost-effective, agile but strong enough to get the job done. More than a hundred manufacturers were provided the specifications, but given only seven weeks to complete the task, and just one team answered the call.

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Bantam – a small shop in Pennsylvania led by engineer Karl Probst – applied ingenuity and speed to win the project. Probst, an American patriot working without pay, rallied the team and created a design adapted from commercial components configured in a new way. They submitted their Bantam Reconnaissance Car (BRC) prototype. Even though it was unconventional by prevailing military standards, the vehicle proved itself during intensive testing.

Major Herbert Lawes, head of the evaluation team said, "I have driven every unit the services have purchased for the last twenty years. This vehicle is going to be absolutely outstanding. I believe this unit will make history."

It came just in time, and as they say; the rest is history. The design evolved, manufacturers began construction, and more than 600,000 Jeeps – as they became known – served in US and Allied defense during World War II alone. They were built by Bantam, Ford, and Willys, and excelled in every environment in which conflict arose, due primarily to their versatility.

Official war correspondent Ernie Pyle, who embedded with US troops on all fronts, wrote of the Jeep, “It does everything. It goes everywhere. It's as faithful as a dog, strong as a mule, and as agile as a goat. It constantly carries twice what it was designed for, and keeps on going."

VALUABLE CAPABILITY

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During the war, Bantam’s early models were copied by both the Japanese and the Russians. The Imperial Army had the Toyota AK produced by duplicating a BRC they recovered in the Philippines. After the war, this became the Toyota BJ and later the Land Cruiser.

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The Russians gave engineers at GAZ just 50 days to produce a light scout vehicle based on the BRC. Copying images and using common parts, this became their R-1 model, Razvedchik-1, for Recon-1. It was later adapted to the GAZ-64, and successor designs include the UAZ-469.

The Jeep provided a new capability, and it’s no surprise there were significant efforts to replicate the platform. After the war, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, Supreme Commander of Allied Forces, said, “The Jeep, the Dakota, and the Landing Craft were the three tools that won the war.”

TRANSITION

Post-war military adaptations originating from the Jeep, and still built today, include Britain’s Land Rover, built first on a Jeep chassis, Brazil’s Marruá and Troller, China’s Beijing Jeep BJ-2022 (from BJ-211) and their modern XLW-HT1, France’s VPS, Germany’s G-Wagen Wolf, India’s Axe, Iran’s Safir and Sepehr, Italy’s LMV SF, Japan’s Type 73 Shin, Jordan’s Desert Iris, South Korea’s KM420, and Venezuela’s Tiuna. All are built to deliver light all-terrain tactical versatility.

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The jeep served US forces in every conflict through the Invasion of Panama in 1989. Until the latest model – the M151 Military Utility Tactical Truck (MUTT) – was replaced by the HMMWV for the US ground arsenal. The HMMWV used a commercial engine and was based on commercial components. With a wide stance, the HMMWV was designed to operate behind armor like the Abrams main battle tank and the Bradley fighting vehicle. The battlefield had changed, heavy movements drove planning, and light mobility had to adapt.

The HMMWV shined during Operation Desert Storm in 1991. It was light, able, and sufficiently powered for the relatively flat desert terrain. But a decade later, insurgents using guerrilla tactics like improvised explosives and urban ambush presented the greatest challenge. HMMWV was adapted to meet the threat, but in doing so became bigger, heavier, and less mobile. The threat escalated, and even larger platforms – the MRAPs – were developed and fielded through significant efforts to protect American forces.

TODAY

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Afghanistan presented some of the most harsh and varied terrain on the planet. And with HMMWV's changes over twenty years, like with the Quad entering WWII, its agility paid a toll and mobility suffered. Again, defense looked to the commercial market for quick options, and found recreational side-by-sides.

Initially fielded in Airborne units, the vehicles were nimble and inexpensive. These small carts, born in the consumer sector, opened up areas to personnel mobility. But, like the sidecar motorcycle decades before, they exhibited limited payload capacity, durability, and range of use. And therein the gap emerges; the strong but heavy HMMWV on one side, the agile but less capable side-by-side on the other.

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One writer described recently “The Pickup Truck Era of Warfare”. It’s not a new phenomenon, but certainly appears to be more prevalent. Smaller, more localized conflicts, compressed deployment and positioning time, the rise of non-state adversaries, and the closer fusion of direct and indirect actions have driven the services to evaluate their ability to apply power across an ever widening spectrum of operations.

Units today find themselves closely assisting the civil population one moment, and conducting offensive or defensive action the next. In many cases doing so in areas with terrain that will not support heavy vehicles and utilizing routes of access that require enhanced mobility. Scenarios change, tactics adapt, and tools emerge to fulfill a purpose.

AGILE STRENGTH

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Commandos are defined as small, highly mobile military units or teams, versatile in nature; they are trained to operate quickly and aggressively in especially urgent, threatening situations.

Allied commando forces, dating back to America’s First Special Service Force and the British Special Air Service, have performed consistently at the tip of the spear. And like all in the US military, the core to capability lies with the warfighter. Their hardware is only an enabler; their brain is the real weapon.

Enabling the warfighter through versatility is the foundation on which Hendrick Commando is built. To provide a tool in ultra light mobility that can perform across the widest range of missions. A low cost vehicle that is safe and capable on multiple terrains and environments, adaptable to application by those out front, and efficient in operation and sustainment.

Hendrick Commando delivers Agile Strength™ to demanding operators.

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