Military trucks come in different sizes and with diverse capabilities. They range from adapted commercial trucks to purpose-built heavy tactical vehicles tailored for a wide range of applications.

Rheinmetall HX range

German manufacturer Rheinmetall is a prominent provider of military truck systems. Recently, the company delivered three of its 44m 8×8 heavy recovery vehicles (HVR) from its HX pure military truck system range to the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF). The series is part of the Rheinmetall MAN military vehicles (RMMV) family and has won contracts across the world, including in Australia, Denmark, Norway and Sweden.

The contract comes in support of the 200 HX RMMV vehicles NZDF purchased in 2013 for NZ$113m ($76.3m). The new HX 44m trucks will not only complement the existing RMMV fleet but will also support other ground roles for the New Zealand Army.

The HX 44M is the second generation of the HX models, which is a significant technological leap from the first generation models delivered in 2013 and 2014. The first generation vehicles are used by the UK Armed Forces as well. The new HVR has enhanced recovery and mobility capabilities specifically developed to meet NZDF requirements.

Rheinmetall New Zealand manager Marty Roelofs says: “Key enhancements include a 1,500mm fording depth and a dedicated self-recovery winch/drive system, which enables both winching power and traction from the driving force to self-recover vehicle.”

The new HXs are also equipped with a central tyre inflation system, a main rope pay-out winch and a new winch rope tensioning system for the boom winches.

“Continuing development of these Rheinmetall MAN platforms, and the close working relationship between the NZDF and Rheinmetall allow for the HX44M HRV to maintain up to date technology required to suit the end user’s needs,” says Roelofs.

“Rheinmetall maintains embedded staff within NZDF to provide technical advice and support across all of its products. Our Military Vehicle Centre of Excellence in Brisbane also provides significant engineering and design support for Rheinmetall vehicles if required.”

The New Zealand HX 8X8 has a 440 hp D2066 Euro 5 engine and a ZF Ecolife seven-speed automatic transmission that allow the trucks to reach 90km/h. The 2.55m wide truck can climb slopes of up to 60% scale gradients and cross trenches of 1.4m in width and 1.5m in depth.  

The HRVs are the first trucks to use a so-called integrated armoured swap cabin that allows easy configuration of the vehicles to suit different operational needs.

Roelofs says: “This is a new capability which allows vehicles that have an unarmoured cab for training or low threat environment to be easily up-armoured with a fully-equipped and prepared armoured cab.”

According to a Rheinmetall video, the swap can be done in less than 10 hours by two people. The company will also provide a dedicated training team to conduct initial training on the vehicle with the NZDF.

Rheinmetall is planning to start producing the third generation of HX vehicles (HX3) next year. The new trucks will be equipped with assistance systems that are designed to increase the safety of both personnel and civilians. Future capabilities include improved situational awareness and an advanced driving assistance system that reduces driver fatigue and stress over the whole course of driving and intervene in a moment of inattention.

Both the interior and the exterior of the HX3 will be updated with improved protection and perimeter defence to enhance survivability.

The HX range third-generation (HX3) family will be equipped with assistance systems. Credit: Rheinmetall

Team 45⁰N: Canadian efforts

Earlier this year, Rheinmetall Canada announced a collaboration with Navistar Defence Canada, known as Team 45⁰ North (45⁰N), to bid for Canada’s Logistic Vehicle Modernization project. The programme is set to acquire new fleets of light and heavy logistic vehicles, trailers, vehicle modules and armour protection kits to support the Canadian Armed Forces both at home and abroad.

“In collaboration with its partners, Team 45⁰N will offer a comprehensive LVM solution that fulfils the Canadian Army’s logistics mission profile, specifically designed to meet military requirements – durability, protection, payload capacity, mobility, and all-terrain capability,” Rheinmetall said in a statement.

The team members have many decades of experience in producing land vehicles. The companies have not revealed what vehicles they are putting forward, but Rheinmetall’s HX series is upgradable and modifiable according to specific customer needs. Similarly, Navistar can provide versatile and flexible platforms that are easily tailored to meet mission and customer requirements.

HX3 Family. Credit: Rheinmetall

Military land vehicle market

According to a Global Data prediction, the global military land vehicle market is set to mark significant growth between 2021 and 2031. The current market value is at $21.9bn and will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.74% to reach a value of $31.6bn in a decade. The cumulative market for global military vehicles is anticipated to value $292.8bn over the forecast period.

According to the report: “The demand for military land vehicles is anticipated to be driven by the European region, especially in countries such as France, Russia, and the UK. The North American region will hold the second largest position globally, exhibiting a steady pace of growth over the forecast period with a CAGR of 2.34%.

“Major military forces around the globe are currently undertaking modernization efforts to replace their legacy platforms in the face of modern threats. Those efforts will support market growth over the next decade.”

In 2020, Rheinmetall’s Vehicle Systems division achieved an operating result of €150m ($169.4m), similar to the previous year. The operating margin was 8.2%, which was slightly lower than the previous year’s figure of 8.4% due to product mix effects.