Tampa, Florida — The Special Operations Forces Industry Conference (SOFIC) is a veritable candy-land of todays latest in warfighter technology in which industry leaders of military hardware showcase their wares to the Special Operations community. The plethora of gadgets and whiz-bangs can be overwhelming at times yet there are some products that just catch the eye and fascinate. Sure there are weapons systems and even the occasional micro-drone swarm-bots that fill a niche. However, in regards to mobility on four wheels, General Dynamics and their Advanced Light Strike Vehicle (ALSV) Special Operations Vehicle (SOV) known as the Flyer-72 ALSV may have broken the mould.
The United States Special Operations Command put out a call to the military supplier industry in 2012 looking for a new lightweight, highly transportable, highly mobile vehicle system with a 7,000 lb weight restriction to replace the sluggish heavy HUMVEE from AM General. The Flyer 72 ALSV SOV beat out the competition hands down and was declared the winner by SOCOM in 2013 and awarded General Dynamics the contract to begin the research, development, then fielding of the Flyer ALSV series with 1,300 planned for procurement.
First impression of the Flyer 72 was that this truck is a battle wagon, purpose-built with Special Operations in mind. SOFREP spoke with the General Dynamics team on site at the SOFIC and they said just that. The Flyer SOV series was built with direct feedback from operators themselves, and not only that, these same operators were also its test-bed. One quick look and you can see the influence the commandos had on its design.
In my time down-range in Iraq, HUMVEEs were not suited for fully loaded operators. With all my armor on, kit, ammunition, and mission essential equipment required for direct action you literally were plastered against the dash of the Hummer and getting out of the vehicle was more like falling out and hoping for the best. The word “cramped” is a giant understatement. Not so with the Flyer 72 SOV. The floorboards were flush with the door frame along with spacious seating that accommodated fully kitted out operators. Something General Dynamics indicated was the biggest request from the commandos.
The multiple variants from up-armored plating, light weight reconnaissance equipment levels, to a search and rescue platform which can be attached or removed within minutes quite literally gives the soldiers of SOCOM a “choose your own adventure” selection of how to conduct various missions that SOCOM is tasked. The Flyer SOV series can be deployed in various ways, from C-130s to Opsrey V-22s and all that can be done with a very slick air-ride suspension system that can lower or raise the vehicle as needed. The next amazing innovation is the center-drive configuration cobbled with a mid-engine design. Meaning that the engine sits within the center point of the vehicle chassis and the driver sits in the center of the vehicle. In the Flyer 72 SOV version there was left and right passenger seats flanking the driver, so the driver gets the passengers to the fight from telescoping weapons system mounts if needed. Another piece of feedback from operators that was immediately adopted by the General Dynamics team.
The Flyer 72 ASLV SOV is by far the best bit of kit on four wheels out there for Special Operations I fully endorse this as an essential piece of equipment that today’s SOF desperately needs and let’s be honest here, it looks like one hell of a fun truck to drive.
General Dynamics Flyer 72 ALSV SOV spec-sheet:
The Flyer-72 vehicle is a non-developmental item, purpose-built, lightweight vehicle designed to meet complex mission sets. The Flyer-72 was selected by the U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) as the vehicle of choice for their fleet of Ground Mobility Vehicles 1.1 (GMV 1.1). At 72” wide the Flyer-72 is capable of internal transport in the CH-47 and C-130 aircraft.
The Flyer-72 is a mature, highly mobile platform, with a payload capacity over 5,000 pounds and can be configured to multiple crew sizes (up to nine). It is capable of being guns up in under a minute after exiting the aircraft, and can carry variety of armaments. Its adaptable communications suite provides increased operating range and the provides the operator realtime access to critical information.
As a reliable and high performance vehicle, the Flyer-72 offers safe and fast operating speeds with superior levels of mobility and maneuverability. It’s highly adaptable to severe, rugged and restrictive terrains while providing off-road, cross-country mobility in all types of weather conditions.