The M1117 Guardian Armored Security Vehicle, or ASV, is an internal security vehicle. Its armament consists of an Mk 19 grenade launcher and M2 Browning Machine Gun, mounted in a turret similar to that used on the US Marine Corps’ Amphibious Assault Vehicle; and a M240H Medium Machine Gun mounted outside the gunner’s hatch. The vehicle has become very popular with U.S. Military Police Units and Convoy Security Units in Iraq. It is a more heavily protected and heavily armed alternative to the armored Humvee which was not originally designed to be a protected fighting vehicle.
By the 1980s, American military doctrine emphasized two distinct types of equipment. Tanks and infantry fighting vehicles were for frontline combat, and unarmored utility vehicles for transport behind the lines. In 1993, the military had to fight through Mogadishu in unarmored Humvees, leading to the development of uparmored models. Many generals doubted the benefits, but the Military Police Corps, tasked with patrolling the “safe” rear area behind the battle line insisted that the Army fund a slow but steady production of the bullet resistant M1114.
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In 1999, the United States Army began buying a limited number of M1117s (originally the ASV-150) for the Military Police Corps. This purpose-built ASV was derived from Cadillac Gage’s previous Commando family of AFV which was used in Vietnam for base security. The ASV 150 is a much improved version the earlier Cadillac Gage 100/150, with improved armor protection and better maneuverability due to the use of Timoney’s independent suspension system.
The ASV uses an advanced modular expandable armor package from IBD, consisting of ceramic composite applique on the exterior and spall liner on the interior. At $800,000 each, the M1117 was significantly more expensive than the $140,000 price for an M1114. They were field tested by MP units in Kosovo mostly by members of the 709th MP Battalion. The program was canceled in 2002 because of budget priorities. The United States Army believed that existing vehicles could be used without an “unacceptable level of risk.” When the Iraq War began in 2003, there were 49 ASVs in service, with almost all of them being assigned to MP Units. The first MP unit to officially use them in a combat zone was the 527th MP Company and other elements of the 720th MP Battalion. However, the onset of events in Iraq has given new life to the ASV program as HMMWVs have proven vulnerable to attacks and a large source of casualties. Uparmored HMMWVs were not designed to be armored cars like the M1117, which are designed to withstand hits from small arms, mines and rockets in frontline combat units. Some members of Congress visiting Iraq have favored them over other mine protected vehicles. As of mid-2007, 1,729 vehicles were delivered or under contract with many being dispersed not just to MP’s but numerous other military units to include the Iraqi National Police.
In response to urgent United States Army requirements in the mid-2000s, production has increased from one ASV every three weeks to the complete 56 vehicles per month. The plant that produces the vehicles is located in New Orleans and was heavily damaged by Hurricane Katrina. The manufacturing facilities have since been rebuilt and expanded to five buildings and personnel have more than doubled. The vehicle is a 21st century version of the V-100 Cadillac Gage Commando which was used by the US Army Military Police during the Vietnam War, whose duties often consisted of providing armed escort for wheeled convoys. The USAF in South Vietnam utilized an open hatched (turret-less) Commando for base security missions.
A variant was to be evaluated by the US Marine Corps as part of the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle program. As of May 18, 2007, After their vehicle submission failed ballistics testing at Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Textron received word that they would not receive further orders as part of the MRAP program. However in early 2008, Textron was awarded a contract to build 329 ASVs worth $228 million. They will be delivered with the latest fragmentation protection kits. The total number of ASVs produced or remaining to be delivered to the U.S. Army is at 2,058 vehicles at that time.