LAV-25 Light Armored Vehicle
U.S. Marine Corps

19 Awe-Inspiring U.S. Military Vehicles

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LAV-25 Light Armored Vehicle
U.S. Marine Corps

Mighty Machines

The tried and true Willys MB emerged from World War II as the most famous military vehicle on the planet, but the trusty Jeep might as well have been a Hot Wheels toy car compared with what was to come. From clearing mines and moving earth to mobile weapons units and cross-country fighting machines, these are the biggest, baddest, and most impressive vehicles in use in the U.S. military.

M60A1 Armored Vehicle Launched Bridge
U.S. Marine Corps

M60A1 Armored Vehicle Launched Bridge

From time immemorial, armies have enlisted engineers to build bridges over rivers and other impassable barriers. In 1967, the bridges started building themselves. Built on the vaunted M60 Patton Main Battle Tank platform, the M60 AVLB is a tank with a very special mounting on the turret: a 60- by 13-foot hinged bridge. The bridge unfolds to allow even the heaviest tanks and armored vehicles to cross trenches and water obstacles and detaches so the main vehicle can get out of the way for traffic. Serving the Armed Forces for more than a half-century, it was upgraded for modern warfare to the M60A1 AVLB in 1987.

M1 Abrams Tank
U.S. Army

M1 Abrams Tank

The M1 Abrams main battle tank is the heart of America's armored ground warfare capabilities. It's heavily armed, heavily armored, and, well, heavy — at more than 68 tons, it's among the most massive tanks in service. Its armor is highly sophisticated and its armaments include a 120 mm XM25 smooth-bore cannon and a .50-caliber M2 machine gun.

Bradley Fighting Vehicle
U.S. Air Force

Bradley Fighting Vehicle

Fully tracked and lightly but sufficiently armored, the Bradley Fighting Vehicle was designed to bring the battle to the enemy over long distances. It's reputation as a relic didn't stop it from becoming famous for storming across Iraq during two wars — the Bradley was built for cross-country war fighting and, as a staple of mechanized infantry and armored cavalry operations, could still keep pace with the M1 Abrams across vast distances while using medium- and long-range firepower. It defends itself and attacks with mounted arms such as 25 mm cannons, which can tear through most armored targets.

Stryker Armored Fighting Vehicles
U.S. Army

Stryker Armored Fighting Vehicles

The Stryker is actually a family of vehicles — and it's not a family most other families want to mess with. The eight-wheeled armored fighting vehicles have been in production since 2002 in a joint Canadian-American design and manufacturing venture. They're available in specialties such as anti-tank guided missile vehicle, mortar carrier, and mobile gun system. They're built for travel in the workhorse C-130 aircraft and represent the heart of the Army's rapid deployment and tactical mobility operations.

Amphibious Assault Vehicle
U.S. Marine Corps

Amphibious Assault Vehicle

It's hard to imagine that any vehicle represents the expeditionary heritage of the U.S. Marine Corps more perfectly than the AAV fleet. Fully tracked and highly mobile, the ship-to-shore Amphibious Assault Vehicle gives the Marines Corps its legendary capacity to launch rapid and ruthless assaults on any shore in the world. The AAV line, however, might be ending its run after nearly a half-century of service: In 2018, the Corps abandoned a plan for massive upgrades to the AAV fleet after deciding it didn't fit into America's new National Defense Strategy.

M88 Hercules Recovery Vehicle
BAE Systems

M88 Hercules Recovery Vehicle

Among the biggest armored recovery vehicles in use, the M88 was built to handle the hard work of repairing and replacing damaged fighting vehicles while under fire in combat conditions. It can also free trapped vehicles, serve as an anchor, and pull earth-moving duty. (Oh, and it's been known to pull down the occasional statue of Saddam Hussein.) The massive M88's towering boom can lift 35 tons off the ground when its spade is down.

LAV-25 Light Armored Vehicle
U.S. Marine Corps

LAV-25 Light Armored Vehicle

The Marine Corps, U.S. Army, and Canadian Army all rely on the speed, versatility, and brawn of the LAV-25. LAV stands for light armored vehicle, and this eight-wheeled reconnaissance and assault machine trades weight for incredible speed and mobility. The all-terrain, all-weather, amphibious LAV-25 can do 62 mph — 6 mph in the water — and bristles with firepower that includes a 25 mm chain gun and a 7.62 mm machine gun.

Assault Breacher Vehicle
U.S. Army

Assault Breacher Vehicle

The mighty ABV is an armored, tracked engineering vehicle based on the M1A1 Abrams tank chassis. Designed to clear paths by breaching minefields and wrecking complex obstacles, its toolbox includes line charges, full-width mine plows, remote control capabilities, lane-marking systems, and a comprehensive protective weapons system.

M9 Armored Combat Earth Mover
U.S. Army

M9 Armored Combat Earth Mover

The M9 Armored Combat Earth Mover is no ordinary bulldozer. Air-transportable and fully tracked, the combat engineer's workhorse is a critical part of offensive and defensive operations. It's instrumental in preparing survivability positions and defilade, clearing obstacles, and fortifying positions. Among its long list of capabilities are winching, towing, grading, scraping, and, of course, dozing.

Husky Vehicle Mounted Mine Detection System
U.S. Department of Defense

Husky Vehicle Mounted Mine Detection System

The Husky Vehicle Mounted Mine Detection System looks sort of like an Incredible Hulk version of the lunar module, but does its dangerous and important work right here on Earth. The unarmed, single-occupant Army vehicle plays a critical role in life-saving route-clearance work crucial to modern warfare. The blast-survivable Husky is equipped to detect explosives such as IEDs.

The Flyer Advanced Light Strike Vehicle
Flyer Defense

The Flyer Advanced Light Strike Vehicle

Special operations forces prefer the Flyer platform for its speed, maneuverability, and long list of customization options. It can travel 300 miles or more between refuelings and has specialized ground clearance and departure angles that allow it to tackle even the most unforgiving terrain. It can be fitted with armor, chain guns, automatic grenade launchers, and even anti-tank missiles.

iRobot R-Gator
Z22

iRobot R-Gator

Everyone has heard of drones, but the image that comes to mind when discussing unmanned vehicles is usually a futuristic remote-control plane in the sky. Some driverless vehicles have wheels, though. Among the most impressive is the R-Gator, the result of a marriage between the John Deere and iRobot companies. The intelligent unmanned ground vehicle, which can operate autonomously, can pull perimeter guard duty, serve as a scout, and ferry supplies and personnel, all without a driver.

M3 Half-Track
U.S. Army

M3 Half-Track

Truck up front, tank in the back — it's none other than the M3 Half-Track. Just as its name implies, half of the M3 is propelled by caterpillar tracks and half by a traditional wheeled axle. Based on an artillery tractor called the M2, the M3 debuted in 1940 as an armored personnel carrier big enough to deliver an entire platoon of 13 riflemen into combat.

Desert Patrol Vehicle
U.S. Navy SEALs

Desert Patrol Vehicle

When the Desert Patrol Vehicle got its first taste of combat in Operation Desert Storm, it was called the Fast Attack Vehicle. No matter the name, the juiced-up dune buggy is a favorite of Special Operations forces, who use it for deep-strike missions and long-range recon. Fast and highly maneuverable, special forces use it to race ahead of other vehicles across vast stretches of desert, avoiding obstacles and engaging any enemy forces it encounters along the way.

Heavy Equipment Transporter
U.S. Air Force

Heavy Equipment Transporter

The Oshkosh Defense HET relies on a 700-horsepower Caterpillar C18 engine to operate as the ultimate combat flatbed truck. With enough horsepower to carry tanks, it hauls combat vehicles to prevent wear and tear, reduce team member fatigue, and cut transportation costs associated with the massive machines. Thanks to a single-speed transfer case, its operators don't need to stop and shift, even on steep grades.

LVT-4 Water Buffalo
U.S. Department of Defense

LVT-4 Water Buffalo

If you were an Axis soldier defending a coastal position during World War II, the last thing you wanted to see was a fleet of LVT-4 Water Buffalos approaching from the water. The fourth incarnation of the military's Landing Vehicle, Tracked line of amphibious carrier vehicles, the Water Buffalo was designed in 1943 with major upgrades and improvements to its landing ramp. Armored and well-armed, it could fight its way to shore carrying as many as 30 Marines.

Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected Vehicle
U.S. Army

Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected Vehicle

The Oshkosh Defense MRAP is used in combat, in reconnaissance missions, and in security operations — built for versatility starting in 2007 to fulfill needs in Iraq, where guerilla explosive devices remained a problem in the Iraq War. An MRAP All Terrain Vehicle was produced from 2012 to 2015, after which Oshkosh began building a lighter vehicle. (MRAPs weighed up to 18 tons, with a 9-foot roof.) The all-weather, all-terrain MRAP could be adapted for border security, fire support, command and control operations, forward support, peacekeeping, explosive ordnance support, special forces operations, and direct enemy engagement.

Cougar 6x6 MRAP
U.S. Army

Cougar 6x6 MRAP

The Cougar 6x6 can carry as many as 10 fully equipped passengers through even the most hostile combat environments. That's because it was designed for survivability with advanced ballistic and blast protection in mind. Boasting a stellar record of occupant survival rates during attacks, the Cougar is known for sustaining significant hits and returning to the battlefield within hours. Born in 2004 from the needs of Iraq and Afghanistan combatants, the Cougar was designed to withstand direct impact from IEDs.

M109A7 Howitzer
BAE Systems

M109A7 Howitzer

Entering service just last year, the M109A7 Howitzer is the latest and most advanced model in the BAE Systems M109 family of vehicles. Compatible with Bradley Fighting Vehicle chassis parts, it holds a four-person crew and can fire up to four 155-mm shells a minute. As it delivers death from a distance, the self-propelled vehicle can stick and move quickly, avoiding retaliatory strikes and incoming attacks as it fires.