The Jeep May Return to Active Duty

Almost 70 years after the Willys MB rolled onto the battlefield, the Jeep’s iconic grille and headlights may return to active duty.

Hendrick-Commando-Gear-Patrol-Lead-Full

Jeep’s iconic squared jaw and round headlights could yet make a return to active duty. But it’s not the Jeep brand or parent company FCA that’s working on a contract with the US Army, it’s Hendrick Dynamics, a branch of NASCAR racing team Hendrick Motorsports. Negotiations are ongoing, but the contract itself calls for a lightweight, inexpensive unarmored vehicle, one that is more easily airlifted into remote areas than, say, a three-ton Humvee and cheaper than the nearly $500,000 Oshkosh JLTV.

Hendrick Dynamics has already reportedly built 14 prototypes of the modified Jeep Wrangler, renamed the Hendrick Commando, including two- and four-door versions, as well as a pickup model. Out on the battlefield, the Commando’s basic architecture means it can be easily modified depending on its given task — machine gun mounts, anti-mine rakes, forward communications and radar systems could all be military-grade optional extras. And though the stock Pentastar V6 is replaced by a VM Motori 2.8-liter diesel, the Commando can still reap the benefits of its civilian roots with a pre-existing parts-and-service network as well as the crash testing advancements Jeep brings to the table.

Should Hendrick Dynamics be awarded the contract, the Jeep name and iconic scruffy looks would return to the battlefield and continue the legacy of its iconic forefather, the Willys MB. Though no other US military service vehicle may be as iconic the original Willys, there has been a long line of four-wheeled war heroes charged with hauling US soldiers around combat zones. Some of our favorites are below.

Willys MB

willys mb gear patrol
Jeep

First Year Active: 1941
Deployment: World War II

Willys M38

Willys-M38-Gear-Patrol

First Year Active: 1949
Deployment: Korean War

M151

M151-Gear-Patrol

First Year Active: 1959
Deployment: Vietnam War, Operation Urgent Fury

Gamma Goat (M561)

DA-ST-85-12937

First Year Active: 1962
Deployment: Vietnam War

Desert Patrol Vehicle

Desert-Patrol-Vehicle-Gear-Patrol

First Year Active: 1991
Deployment: Gulf War

Humvee (HMMWV)

HMMV-Gear-Patrol
Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Mark Fayloga

First Year Active: 1984
Deployment: Operation Just Cause, Gulf War, Iraq War

OshKosh JLTV

Oshkosh-JLTV-Gear-Patrol

First Year Active: 2005
Deployment: Currently in Service

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