Force Protection unveils new model

Ladson-based Force Protection has unveiled a new lightweight, highly maneuverable vehicle for use in urban areas and off-road.

Known for its iron-clad fleet of lumbering, battle-scarred behemoths, Force Protection Inc. is gauging demand for a smaller, nimbler, lighter and speedier version of its armored vehicles.

The Ladson-based company on Wednesday unveiled its new Joint All-Terrain Modular Mobility Asset, or JAMMA, at a military trade show in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

The four-passenger truck is armor-ready and can be transported inside a V-22 Osprey aircraft, Force Protection said. It also noted that the estimated 4,000-pound vehicle can travel at high speeds both off-road and in urban areas. One version measures just 5 feet wide.

Michael Moody, the company's chief executive officer, said in a statement that Force Protection sees "an ongoing need for our U.S. troops and allied forces to have access to lighter, highly mobile vehicles."

"The JAMMA ... has been designed from the ground up to be the new standard in light-tactical vehicles, and its lightweight, high-strength structure provides a wealth of multi-role mission configurations for its end-users," he said. "The JAMMA represents a different type of survivability solution focused on speed, mobility and concealment."

The new offering is another step in Force Protection's efforts to diversify its business, which has relied almost solely on sales of big, slow-footed troop carriers that can withstand blasts from land mines and other explosives. Sales of those vehicles to the military have fallen dramatically for the company.

The JAMMA, which is made partly from lightweight but high-strength composite materials, opens a potential new market, said Tommy Pruitt, senior director of communications for Force Protection.

"It all fits into that special-operations segment of military vehicles that we haven't been able to compete in because of the size of our existing vehicles, which are too big, too heavy," Pruitt said. "It really fits a niche."

Force Protection acquired the rights to produce the JAMMA from Tac-V, a North Hollywood, Calif.-based company that developed it.

Pruitt was staffing a booth at the Florida military show Wednesday to help promote the new vehicle and to solicit reaction from potential customers, which could include police forces and private security companies.

"We're going to be actively and aggressively exploring those opportunities right away," he said.

Pruitt said it has not been decided whether the JAMMA, if it goes into production at all, would be made at the company's 1,300-worker Ladson plant. The sale price for the vehicle also has not been established.

Shares of Force Protection closed up 2 cents at $5.29.

Reach John McDermott at 937-5572 or jmcdermott@postandcourier.com.