The Greek military could soon have some slightly used “Guardians” to help protect its rugged countryside. Over the summer the U.S. Congress approved the sale of 1,200 used 4×4 M1117 Guardian Armored Security Vehicles (ASV) at what can only be described as a truly discounted price, and those vehicles could soon be headed to Greece. The ASVs had been used by U.S. Army military police units, and were offered to Greece for around 70,000 euros ($83,700) each—which is a considerable savings for cash-strapped Athens, as the vehicles originally cost $800,000 a piece to produce.
However, the sale price to the Greek military didn’t include the platform’s armaments, so Athens will have to supply its own machine guns and grenade launchers. Yet, even in used condition and without armaments the M1117 could be just what the Greek military needs—an affordable platform with plenty of spare parts to ensure that the Guardians will remain operational for years, even decades, to come.
Light Rugged Vehicle
The 4×4 wheeled armored vehicle platform was developed by Textron Marine & Land Systems’ (TMYL) Cadillac Gage in the late 1990s for the United States Military Police Corps, and the first prototypes were delivered in 1997. The M1117 entered serial production in late 1999 and was ready for deployment just as the United States became involved in the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq. The Guardian was widely deployed in the early stages of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, where it was involved as mission essential equipment, and provided operational capability in both missions.
In fact, it was serendipitous that the M1117 was actually one of the first American military vehicles to be built with a specialized mine-resistant hull. It was produced with armor that can withstand a 5kg mine explosion and even stand up to 155mm artillery blasts that are as close as fifteen meters from the vehicle. The floor shield was also sloped to expel any explosive power generated by mines, while the sloping also helped the vehicle to traverse through water and mud.
The Guardian was developed with rugged terrain in mind and this included an 8.3-liter Cummins diesel engine that produces 260 hp, and offers top speed of around sixty mph off road, while it was also fitted with run-flat tires. The vehicle provides 360-degree vision for the crew, features an air-conditioning system to ensure comfort in extreme summer heat—all features that were welcome in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The vehicles provided protection to military police crews from small arms fire and mines but also offered quick insertion capability and maneuverability in urban areas. The M1117 was developed with worldwide deployment in mind, and was made to be compatible with the C-130 cargo plane. In fact, five of the vehicles could be accommodated in a single C-17 aircraft. Even today it has continued to be the only combat vehicle that can roll on and off while remaining combat loaded.
Textron has produced several variants of the M1117 Guardian including an infantry carrier, which has a crew of two and can carry eight passengers; a command and control vehicle, which is also able to carry a crew of two as well as four battle staff; a recovery vehicle; a Reconnaissance Surveillance & Target Acquisition (RSTA); and ambulance version.
Additionally, Textron developed the M1200 Armored Knight FiST-V (Fire Support Team Vehicle), which was designed using the Guardian ASV as a base. It featured a sensor package, which can locate and assign targets for indirect fire and laser-guided weapons. Most of the M1200 variants have been used in operations in Iraq.
It isn’t clear which of the M1117 Guardian ASVs could be heading to Greece, but it has been reported that those will be able to carry five soldiers. Regardless of which model(s) Athens receives, it is clearly getting a serious vehicle on the cheap.
Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress.