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Jeep re-enlists in the army

Tough: Jeep says the J8 can operate in a sandstorm for up to five hours.

Iconic US off-road brand goes back to the military with the Jeep Wrangler J8

21 Sep 2007

JEEP is going back to its roots with a Wrangler model designed specifically for military use – more than 60 years after making its name in World War II.

While the rest of the automotive world was focussed on presenting their latest vehicles in the glitzy environment of the Frankfurt motor show, Jeep appropriately unveiled its new vehicle at the 2007 Defence Systems & Equipment International military trade show in London.

Having seen its army image usurped by the HumVee (or Hummer), Jeep is hoping to get back into the military market with the J8 ‘multipurpose vehicle’.

Interestingly, it is to be built in the Middle East – at a Chrysler joint-venture facility in Cairo, Egypt to be precise – and will be available in the first half of 2008.

9 center imageThe Jeep J8 is based on a regular Wrangler Unlimited and has been developed primarily for military use, with an eye to civilian government applications.

In June 1941, the US Army received its first shipments of the Willys MA, the rugged 4x4 vehicle that came to be called the Jeep.

This predecessor to today’s Jeep Wrangler proved so vital to the Allies’ WW2 effort that legendary General Dwight Eisenhower declared that the war could not have been won without it.

Jeep says the J8 has not been designed for front-line combat operations but that it is fully armour capable and has tow eyes and heavy-duty bumpers that allow it to be easily transported by plane or helicopter.

Chrysler vice-president of international sales, Thomas Hausch, said that it can be used for a variety of duties ranging from command vehicle to troop/cargo carrier, ambulance, communications vehicle and other duties.

“Jeep vehicles have built their reputation with more than 65 years as the world’s benchmark for off-road capability and versatility (and) the new Jeep J8 marks the brand’s return to vehicle production for military and civilian government use,” said Mr Hausch.

“It also marks the start of Jeep’s renewed commitment to supply the defence community with the highest-quality 4x4 vehicles available anywhere in the world.” For use in the Jeep J8, the Wrangler’s frame is reinforced for increased strength and to allow greater payloads (up to a maximum of 1339 kg). The J8 has a towing capacity of 3500kg.

Axles, brakes and suspension components are engineered for more demanding military and government use, including the adoption of a leaf-spring suspension system in the rear.

The standard Wrangler four-wheel drive system is employed, along with the 118kW/400Nm 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine and five-speed automatic transmission.

However, Jeep developed a unique air intake system with special filtration and an agricultural-looking hood-mounted snorkel that enables the J8 to ford water up to 750cm deep and operate in sandstorm conditions for up to five hours.

The Jeep J8 is available as a four-door or as a two-door with an extended pick-up bed for personnel or equipment transport. It can also be produced with numerous vehicle-body and seating configurations.

Jeep has engineered the J8 for right-hand drive as well as left-hand-drive.

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