What UTVs Does The Military Use?

by Matt Powell | Last Updated:  October 13, 2019

When most people, including myself, think about UTVs they think about people going out with their families on the tail or out on the farm hauling things back and forth and having a good time on them in general. The U.S. military recently started using UTVs for their special operations and deployed units to perform expeditionary missions. Yes UTVs!! 

When I think of military vehicles I tend to think of M1 Abrams Tanks, Armored up Hummers, and LAV-25s. Vehicles that are well known and have outstanding capabilities are not what comes to mind when I think about UTVs.

The US Military and its allies employ different models of UTV but Polaris currently holds a military contract that allows them to produce military grade RZR variants for various military operations.

Once you dive into the facts about UTVs and their capabilities then it is easy to see why the military would want to use them for missions that require lighter vehicles. If you remember the Gulf War back in the 90s, then you probably remember the sand rails they tried out during that time period to traverse through the desert with a small team. They were great for traversing sand but UTVs are much more capable, although they do lack horsepower and speed.

Why Does The Military Use UTVS?

With the plethora of land vehicles the military possess, is there not something that can fill the gap instead of using UTVs? Well the answer to that is no. The desert patrol vehicles of the 90s era that I mentioned above were the closest thing to a Lightweight Tactical All Terrain Vehicle (LTATVs) that can seat multiple people and still be able carry gear or mount weapons.

LTATVs provides special operations teams with a highly maneuverable type of transportation that is low profile to avoid being seen.These military grade UTVs are deployed all over the world by U.S. Special Operations Forces on quick response missions that require a smaller footprint and doesn’t warrant the use of heavier equipment because it would just get in the way. These  tactical vehicles are much lighter and more agile than their larger counterparts and come in two and four seat versions. They are fast and agile which will allow them to move faster because they don’t have to worry about the weight of all that armor slowing them down. 

Even the military uses protective gear when they ride so if you want to see what I recommend for us everyday civilian riders then go to my recommended gear page and have a look.

Smaller Vehicles Are More Portable

It is not a foreign concept that a lighter weight and smaller footprint vehicle is easier to transport. Now the military has done some awesome things to help make some of their larger vehicles portable but they require much more undertaking and much larger planes to transport and even drop things like M1 Abrams tanks out of the sky into enemy territory.

Military grade UTVs have several benefits even in their much smaller packages and the features that militaries look for include:

Mobility

I touched on the mobility factor just a bit in the list above but in order for the military to use UTVs for operations they need to have great mobility. Well nothing says that like having a small vehicle with a great power to weight ratio that can traverse most terrain and go where the larger vehicles can’t. This is especially necessary when carrying out rapid deployment and combat control missions and evacuation missions as well.

Versatility

The fact that these vehicles can be configured for multiple different scenarios and situations, it allows them to boast the versatility that other land vehicles don’t have because they generally serve one purpose. 

UTVs can be configured to carry personnel and injured in the back on evacuation and relief missions. They can also be retrofitted with large caliber machine guns for their combat missions. This is one of the reasons the US military and over 20 of its allied nations have adopted the UTV platform to suit their needs.

Polaris Military Contracted UTVs

Polaris Industries was awarded a contract by the US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) to deliver MRZR light, tactical, all-terrain vehicles (LTATVs) in October 2013. The contract allows SOCOM to manage their ultra-light tactical mobility needs to address mission requirements and rising threats. The contractual scope also includes supplying accessories and spare parts, and providing mechanical and operator training.

In July 2015, the USSOCOM placed an $83m five-year, indefinite delivery and indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contract with Polaris for MRZR 2 and MRZR 4 vehicles, along with contractor logistics support (CLS) for spares, training and support under the LTATV program. The first batch of vehicles was delivered in August 2015.

Design and features of MRZR

The Polaris MRZR 4 has a tubular frame and a conventional layout with engine in the front just like your standard passenger vehicle. There are crew seats in the middle and a cargo compartment at the rear. The roll cage can be collapsed without tools to reduce the vehicles overall height to help prevent rollovers.

The MRZR offers seating for 4 soldiers and can even fit 2 additional passengers if it is equipped with the rear facing seat option that attaches to the cargo bed. The rear cargo section can support the installation of up to 2 seats or 2 litters or a single seat and a litter. The seats come equipped with 4 point harnesses with quick release latches. 

Engine And Transmission

The power-plant integrates a Polaris Prostar 900 4 stroke dual overhead camshaft (DOHC) twin-cylinder engine rated at 875cc. The continuous variable transmission (CVT) and engine together are capable of producing a power output of 88hp. The vehicle has a fuel capacity of 7.2 gallons and fuel is supplied through an electronic fuel injection system. The engine enables the vehicle to attain a top speed of approximately 60 mph.

These are just a few of the features that the Polaris MRZR line of UTVs offers to our military members. If you want to check out all the specifications then I have created a handy little set of tables for easy access to all the information you need. If you went to the Polaris military site you would have to search around for all this information but I went ahead and put it all in one place for you.

Polaris MRZR Variants And Specifications

Polaris MRZR2

Gas powered mobility in the nimble 2 seat variant.

Signature MRZR transportability, modularity, and mobility:

  • Gas powered
  • 2-4 person capacity
  • 1 litter capacity
  • 1,000 lb payload
Power
Engine Type Polaris ProStar 900 4-Stroke DOHC Twin Cylinder
Cylinders Displacement 875cc
Transmission/Final DriveContinuous Variable Transmission (CVT)
Horsepower88 HP
Suspension
Rear Shocks Fox Podium X 2.5 (Comp Adjustable)
Front Suspension Dual A-arm With 12.5 Inches of Travel
Front ShocksFox Podium X 2.5 (Comp Adjustable)
Rear Suspension Trailing Arm With 12.5 Inches of Travel
Drivetrain And Tires
Drive System Type On-demand True All Wheel Drive (AWD)
Front TiresMOAPA AT/26 X 9-14 DWT
Rear TiresMOAPA AT/26 X 9-14 DWT

Polaris MRZR D2

Turbo diesel powered mobility in the nimble 2 seat variant. Turbo diesel models feature longer range, more auxiliary power and improved ergonomics.

Signature MRZR capabilities with turbo diesel power and additional improvements:

  • Turbo diesel powered
  • 2-4 person capacity
  • 1 litter capacity
  • 1,000 lb payload
  • 80% more range than gas models
  • More auxiliary power than gas models
  • Improved sight lines
  • Standard spare tire holder and IR light
Power
Engine Type Polaris ProStar 900 4-Stroke DOHC Twin Cylinder
Cylinders Displacement 875cc
Transmission/Final DriveContinuous Variable Transmission (CVT)
Horsepower88 HP
Suspension
Rear Shocks Fox Podium X 2.5 (Comp Adjustable)
Front Suspension Dual A-arm With 12.5 Inches of Travel
Front ShocksFox Podium X 2.5 (Comp Adjustable)
Rear Suspension Trailing Arm With 12.5 Inches of Travel
Drivetrain And Tires
Drive System Type On-demand True All Wheel Drive (AWD)
Front TiresMOAPA AT/26 X 9-14 DWT
Rear TiresMOAPA AT/26 X 9-14 DWT

Polaris MRZR 4

Gas powered mobility in the 4 seat variant with a longer wheelbase and more payload capacity.

Signature MRZR transportability, modularity, and mobility:

  • Gas powered
  • 4-6 person capacity
  • 1-2 litter capacity
  • 1,500 lb payload
Power
Engine Type Polaris ProStar 900 4-Stroke DOHC Twin Cylinder
Cylinders Displacement 875cc
Transmission/Final DriveContinuous Variable Transmission (CVT)
Horsepower88 HP
Suspension
Rear Shocks Fox Podium X 2.5 (Comp Adjustable)
Front Suspension Dual A-arm With 12.5 Inches of Travel
Front ShocksFox Podium X 2.5 (Comp Adjustable)
Rear Suspension Trailing Arm With 12.5 Inches of Travel
Drivetrain And Tires
Drive System Type On-demand True All Wheel Drive (AWD)
Front TiresMOAPA AT/26 X 9-14 DWT
Rear TiresMOAPA AT/26 X 9-14 DWT

Polaris MRZR D4

Turbo diesel powered mobility in the 4 seat variant with a longer wheelbase and more payload capacity. Turbo diesel models feature longer range, more auxiliary power and improved ergonomics.

Signature MRZR capabilities with turbo diesel power and additional improvements:

  • Turbo diesel powered
  • 4-6 person capacity
  • 1-2 litter capacity
  • 1,500 lb payload
  • 80% more range than gas models
  • More auxiliary power than gas models
  • Improved sight lines
  • Standard spare tire holder and IR light
Power
Engine Type Polaris ProStar 900 4-Stroke DOHC Twin Cylinder
Cylinders Displacement 875cc
Transmission/Final DriveContinuous Variable Transmission (CVT)
Horsepower88 HP
Suspension
Rear Shocks Fox Podium X 2.5 (Comp Adjustable)
Front Suspension Dual A-arm With 12.5 Inches of Travel
Front ShocksFox Podium X 2.5 (Comp Adjustable)
Rear Suspension Trailing Arm With 12.5 Inches of Travel
Drivetrain And Tires
Drive System Type On-demand True All Wheel Drive (AWD)
Front TiresMOAPA AT/26 X 9-14 DWT
Rear TiresMOAPA AT/26 X 9-14 DWT

Are There Any Other Manufacturers That Have Contracts?

Polaris holds the contract for UTV supplies to the US military, but there are still other manufacturers that have been used to supply UTVs in the past. It is not unlikely to see some John Deere or Yamaha Rhinos floating around some military bases in the world but they haven’t had the contract like Polaris does now. Polaris designs UTVs specifically for the military as well as commercial use ones that we are used to seeing.

My name is Matt and I am the owner of DirtWheelRider.com. I want to do my best to give you all the information needed in your offroading endeavors.