Military vehicles have been an integral and important part of the way armed forces around the world operate for decades, whether in peacetime or during conflicts.

The very first vehicle designed and built specifically for the military was the Motor Scout, an armored quadricycle with a Maxim machine gun and an iron shield to protect the driver, invented by British engineer F.R. Simms in 1898.

21st century technology has moved on significantly since the early days of military vehicles, but the jeep has barely changed in 70 years. This trusty old workhorse was developed for World War II and was even the inspiration behind modern SUVs.

Check out the list below to discover some surprising facts about the way that the modern military builds their 21st century cars and trucks.

20 The Military Doesn’t Make Their Own Vehicles

armored vehicles factory in Kiev, Ukraine,

Many people will be surprised to learn that the military doesn’t make their own vehicles, given the importance of ensuring that their capabilities remain secret from the enemy! In fact, the contracts that the military signs with vehicle manufacturers often mean that the armed forces are even forbidden from making repairs on their own trucks.

19 Private Companies Bid For The Opportunity To Make New Vehicles

bae systems

For decades, military vehicles have been built by private companies, who bid on contracts for tanks and trucks. Some of these companies are now worth billions of dollars thanks to their lucrative contracts with the armed forces, such as Oshkosh Defense, General Dynamics Corporation and BAE Systems, which is based in the UK.

18 Companies Also Sell Military Vehicles To Foreign Countries

saudi arabia army vehicles

It isn’t just British companies that make vehicles for the United States military; American businesses have also made military vehicles for the armed forces in foreign countries. Trucks made by defense companies in the States have been sold to countries as far afield as Mexico, Iraq, and Afghanistan in recent years.

17 The Industry Is Worth $26 Billion Per Year

us army m939

Trucks and tanks may not be the most complex machines, but the industry is still worth billions of dollars worldwide. In 2018, the global military vehicle market was estimated to be worth $26 billion, with experts predicting that this is only going to increase over the next five years as the demand for complex military vehicles increases.

16 Modern Military Vehicles Focus On Protecting Personnel

king's own calgary regiment

One of the biggest developments in military vehicle technology over the years has been in the protective armor used on personnel carriers, thanks to the increased focus on keeping soldiers safe in war zones. Defense contractors have spent millions developing bomb-resistant vehicles that can even withstand some of the most powerful improvised explosive devices.

15 Private Customers Can Benefit From This Protective Tech

presidential limo the beast

Private customers have even benefitted from this military tech, with limousines and vehicles used by heads of state, celebrities and leading figures in the business world using protective armor and bullet-proof windows in their vehicles. President Trump’s armored Cadillac, known as The Beast, is totally sealed off from the outside world to prevent chemical attacks.

14 Some Military Vehicles Have Even Been Sold Commercially

hummer h1 2019 price

Sometimes military defense contractors have even gone beyond selling technology and have instead sold the trucks they developed for the army to ordinary drivers. Perhaps the best-known example is the Hummer, which started life as the Humvee military truck, before being sold commercially by AM General as a tough, off-roading SUV in 1992.

13 Military Vehicles Often Feature Automatic Fire Extinguishing Systems

car seat cover

Hi-tech features on military vehicles aren’t just about protecting trucks and their passengers from any damage, but also about restricting that damage if a vehicle is struck by a missile. Many even include automatic fire extinguisher systems which react at high temperatures to put out the flames as quickly as possible.

12 ADAPTIV Technology Camouflages Vehicles No Matter Their Surroundings

cv90120 t ghost tank

For decades military vehicles such as trucks and tanks have employed camouflage to try and hide their position from the enemy. In the 20th century, this camouflage was low-tech, but there have been some significant developments in hi-tech solutions in recent years. Developed by BAE, ADAPTIV technology aims to create real-life invisibility cloak around its vehicles.

11 Newer Tanks Are Powered By Quiet Turbine Engines


It isn’t just the sight of a military vehicle that can give away the location of military personnel; older trucks and tanks weren’t exactly quiet, and their hefty engines could create a lot of noise. The companies who make vehicles for the armed forces have started to address this problem by fitting their tanks with gas turbine engines, which quieter and smaller than older models.

10 Unmanned Vehicles Are Becoming Increasingly Common In The Military

future military robots

Autonomous vehicles are set to be the next big thing in motoring, and the same goes for new military trucks and cars. While robotic devices on wheels have been in use for some time in dealing with explosive devices, companies are also starting to develop combat vehicles that can operate without drivers on board.

9 Armored Doors Can Weigh Several Hundred Pounds

humvee armoured door hinge

The armor plating which is used on military vehicles can add a huge amount of weight to trucks and tanks – another good reason why defense contractors are using turbine engines to power their larger vehicles to make them lighter. The toughest bullet-proof panels can weigh several hundred pounds, protecting the vehicle’s passengers at the expense of speed and maneuverability.

8 US Military Is Developing Trucks Which Can Be Parachuted To The Ground

Alaska Air Guardsmen support hurricane relief efforts

Paratroopers have been an important tool in the military arsenal for as long as there have been planes. Soldiers parachuted into France helped end World War II, but once they landed they had to make their way around on foot. However, new vehicles are being developed which can be safely and effectively parachuted to the ground to help troops get around.

7 New Mounted Weapons Include Lasers To Shoot Down Drones


Military vehicles are not just designed to get troops around a combat zone but are also mobile weapons themselves. Even the Motor Scout, the first military vehicle from 1898, was fitted with a machine gun. Modern tanks are increasingly being kitted out with hi-tech weapons, such as targeted lasers which can be used to shoot down drones.

6 Amphibious Vehicles Can Cope With Waves As High As Ten Feet

amphibious assault vehicle in water

Amphibious vehicles have also been an integral part of the military for decades and were key in getting troops onshore during the D-Day landings. As time has gone on, these personnel carriers have improved their performance both on land and on water, and many modern amphibious trucks can operate in rough seas with waves up to ten feet in height. #

5 But Can Still Travel At Speeds Of Up To 100mph

new us marine amphibious vehicle

These amphibious military vehicles need to be able to operate effectively in the water, but they also have to be able to perform once they get onto dry land. As technology has improved in this field, amphibious vehicles that can deal with rougher seas can still achieve impressive speeds of around 100mph on land or around 45mph on water.

4 21st Century Tanks Are Invisible To Both Infrared And Radar

PL-01 Polish light tank

Camouflage in the 21st century isn’t just about making sure your vehicle is invisible to the naked eye; there are many more advanced technologies used to try and detect where vehicles and soldiers are located, and so hi-tech solutions are needed to stay hidden. Countries are developing stealth tanks that are also invisible to radar and infrared sensors.

3 GPS Started As A Military Technology

military tracking devices

Many of the most recent military vehicle technologies are currently only available to the armed forces, though we might all be able to use them in 20 or 30 years. Some of the most common gadgets that we use today started life in the military, including the GPS systems that we all use in our cars to make sure we don’t get lost.

2 The Military Is Developing Vehicles Which Use Heat Rays

chinas long range heat ray gun

Defense contractors can make big money by developing hi-tech mobile weapons, many of which look like they would be more at home in a sci-fi movie. One of the newest military weapons is a heat ray, which can be transported on the back of a military truck and used to disperse crowds using non-lethal means.

1 And Trucks Which Deploy Sound As A Weapon

russian missile

Heat isn’t the only non-lethal weapon that military contractors are developing for use on their trucks and tanks. Sonic weapons can also be used to disperse crowds, by sending messages over a large area or even by using targeted sound waves which can cause severe discomfort in anyone who gets in the way.

Sources: The Vintage News, Market Research Reports, Freep, Army Technology, Breaking Defense,