U.S. Special Forces Get Armor-Plated Toyotas From Batelle

HiLux Batelle 1 II

U.S. special operations forces are all over the world, and many of them drive pickup trucks — but not your run-of-the-mill pickup truck. These vehicles have been improved with as much as 3,000 pounds of add-ons.

According to Popular Mechanics, there are relatively few companies skilled enough to properly equip select civilian pickups with the necessary armored protection of our military teams. One such company is Battelle, which specializes in upgrading Toyota products (Land Cruiser SUVs, HiLux pickups and more) to make them much, much stronger and safer than their off-the-dealer-lot counterparts. In some cases, Battelle is replacing entire suspensions and frames, adding thickened steel to body panels and bulletproof glass, and installing satellite radios and tracking systems. And depending on how you calculate the cost, some of the modified vehicles are reported to be worth in excess of $300,000.

If you want to know more, we've included this promotional video from Battelle to explain more about its vehicle division. The company's headquarters are near downtown Columbus, Ohio.

Manufacturer image



Batelle Edited Vehicle[1] II

Batelle Group VEHICLES IMAGE-No logos[1] II



the notion is a bit silly. Consider for a second, all of the US troops who lost their lives or suffered horrible wounds in heavily fortified Hummers and personnel carriers during the last 20 years.

Putting some hardened plates in the doors and using tougher glass helps, but it's hardly what I'd call armor plate.

Oxi, you should get hired on as a consultant with Batelle. You can show them how you upgraded your Tacoma to handle 3000+ lbs of payload without even touch the frame/axles/brakes etc. These Batelle guys are wasting time and money needlessly upgrading frames and suspensions.

I would think Kevlar would be better then steel, lighter weight and yet stronger, but

Two things that stand out from the Video to me are:
They are not modifying US vehicles for the job. They are all current Toyota overseas models. I guess there is the stealth element, they look like normal vehicles.

The basic rebuilding of the entire vehicle is what Walkingshaw does when converting a RAM 2500-3500 to RHD
Watch the Video below.

the objective here is pretty hard to accomplish.

Even stopping 9mm pistol rounds with this sort of armor is about the limit.

Stopping .30 cal rifle rounds (or anything hotter) is not happening without very heavy plate. The improvised explosive devices (IED) that killed and wounded so many of our guys in Iraq can easily overcome the kind of defenses that any Toyota midsize can haul around.

Somebody correct me if I'm wrong.

It is giving some protection not total protection too US Special forces. Too do that Off Road, would require a MRAP(South African developed armoured Vehicles).Downside they lose the stealth aspect and are far from nimble Off Road. US Special Forces rely on surprise and quick reaction

Navistar defense builds a truck made to look like a Japanese truck, but it's about twice as heavy.

They should just use an old RamCharger like Chuck Norris did.... ;)

@Mr Knowitall
Most Insurgent groups would know what is available commercially
This would be more expensive and stand out like a sore thumb. Cannot see Navistar having a rush of orders.
Battelle’s approach is more more sensible

@ Brick,

They do the same things as we Expedition off-roaders do. WE increase payload just like they do.

My 2010 Tacoma is a 1 ton. I added heavier 200 lbs. coils up front and my custom 500 lbs. over stock 10-pack rear leafs.

I further have Camburg upper control arms and larger Moog ball joints with Fox 2.0 coilovers up front.

In the rear I have Fox 2.5 shocks with reservoirs at 14 inch travel both mounted in front of the axle on their custom welded hoops to prevent axle wrap. My rear axle with factory 4.10's have welded tubes to the axle housing for extra mass and strength, also to prevent axle flex.

I also have heavier 10-ply BFG A/T KO2's with skid plates under the first half of the truck between the frame rails and custom take down front bumper with skid plates and a heavier rear bumper that is also my full-size 285/75/16x8 tire carrier, swing door system where the tailgate is fully functional with the topper.

I can carry the additional weight of my add-ons and still maintain the factory 1,300 lbs. payload, and she runs fine just like the stock version, though better, more predictable handling with the better Fox shocks!

You nay-sayers just do not understand. This company takes a factory HiLux and makes it carry a few tons more weight out of the same package, called modding. The same thing we Expedition off-roaders do. So get real and leave us modders alone, and keep your stock trucks on the road!


We do understand.
Especially those of us with Enginerring degrees and backgrounds.

You modified your Toyota to carry additional weight, but you didn’t increase the functional capacity. You have not altered the section modulus if the main frame rails, nor have you increased the capacity of the axles, housing, the ring and pinion, or the front spindles.

Put your 1-ton next to MY 1-ton and we have a simple naming contest.
I have a payload of over 3,000 lbs.
my rear axle had a 11.5” Ring gear, massive pinion and 1.5” diameter axle shafts. The housing itself carries all the weight and is well beyond 2x the strength of your hi-lux.
My front axle is equally massive, as are the brakes, wheel bearings, and the wheels. I run 315/70R17s, but I have re-geared to correct for the taller, heavier tire, which you have not.

These trucks are fast,light, semi-armored vehicles that blend in.

As far as armor...
The baseline is 7.62 x39.
More powerful than our 5.56.
The 7.62x51R isn’t common and neither is .308 NATO in enemy hands. A combo plate is likely employed that uses a laminated series of panels with high-strength plate, Kevlar, and a boron-steel alloy second sheet. These effectively arrest the momentum and deform the projectile, decreasing the odds of serious injury.

Most people have no clue what our special operations do and where they are. It rarely gets reported in the news. Sometimes they use whatever is common in the area and beef it up however they can without drawing too much attention. My brother in law is part of this group and has told me he basically has to behave and dress like a spy at times. They do many upgrades to vehicles and equipment by themselves in the field.

@ James,

You do realize I have desert racing experience down in Baja using stock class trucks?

I ran 35 inch tires down in Baja with my 86 Toyota 4x4 in STOCK class. Do not lecture me on how to make a truck survive off-road. I also served in the U.S. Marine Corps and drove tactical trucks off-road.

My experience alone trumps your engineering background!

My 2010 Tacoma is a 1 ton, and she handles that capacity quite well. Expedition off-roaders carry all of our gear with us when we travel, and my truck handles it fine.

If I was to add armor plates for rifle or RPG protection, I would go with an external frame system and mod and gusset each mount to strengthen the frame overall for that additional weight. Then I would install my plates and deflectors, etc... externally without having to waste time re-doing a fine truck from the factory.

Then I could remove the plates and still use it as a normal truck. Trust me Toyota rear 8.4 inch axle is plenty strong. My 1986 Toyota desert truck had an 8 inch with 4.10's and she pulled 35 inch tires fine off-road in low-4 with the front gutted and removed. That is the gear in the T-case did all of the work. Topped out at 85mph on graded roads during races.

Toyota trucks are plenty strong!

I have beefed up my front and rear suspensions, added mass to my rear axle and shocks mounts in the rear have been strengthened. I only increased my payload by 700 lbs. to cover add-ons to keep factory payload rating. I do not need to mod the shyt out of my truck for that extra 700 lbs., I just did what was needed.

My 2010 Tacoma is plenty strong and capable. And if I want to go with that external frame system for plate attachment, I will strengthen the truck as needed depending on its desired capabilities and mission profile.

@Robert Ryan

Paper mache and Elmer's Glue would offer limited protection too. What is your point?

So much for dumb dumb oxi saying the US forces drive jap scrap Toyota over sea! That junk is all reengineered! Only thing really Toyota left over is body panels LMBO!

"Toyota trucks are plenty strong!

I have beefed up my front and rear suspensions, added mass to my rear axle and shocks mounts in the rear have been strengthened"

LMBO!! oxi say Toyota are plenty strong then very next line tells us he had to beef it up! HAHAHA! God damn this guy is stupid!

@papa jim--I had read something about this earlier in the year. I believe the main reason to modify Hiluxes and Land Cruisers is to blend into the environment. These are for the Special Forces and they need to use something that blends in. If you were talking about regular US forces then yes you would use a more armored vehicle.

@oxi--Here is a link to an 83 Toyota 4x4 for sale. Nice truck!


@Jeff S

Please re-read the content.

I don't say they should not do it, but they are beefing up the vehicle to resist impacts, presumably from bomb fragments and bullets.

Three hundred thousand bucks?

Now that’s military grade...

They are building light attack vehicles for Special Forces, which require fast nnimble vehicles with adequate protection not MBt’s

@Robert Ryan- further reading shows that the Navistar.offering can be skinned to look like any midsize crew in the theater.

@ Mr Knowitall
I know ,but I think that would be an expensive way too do it Batelle approach is better

Some interesting comments, especially from those with limited military, economic/financial and even pickup truck knowledge.

Challenged they are, am I correct papajim?

I'll agree with Robert Ryan on this one across the board.

1. No US pickup give you universal discretion outside of the US. The Hilux is widely available in most every global hotspot.

2. For the protection provided. The highest risk assessed is most likely small arms fire, not IEDs, etc. If any of you guys had any sort of knowledge you will know these types of devices (IEDs) are used on well defined and travelled routes by Coalition and Allied/Friendly comrades.

The risk of mortar type fire or shoulder launched rockets is marginal. Mortar is good for stationary targets only and the enemy would only use shoulder launched for high value targets.

3. The nonsense from the "supposed" engineer regarding diff sizes, frame construction etc is half correct. Most of what he described is not for direct vehicle load, but rather excessive towing weights. A global one tonner is more than capable of carrying 2/3s its rated load capacity off road, no different than a US HD with the same load capacity.

The so called engineer didn't mention the 70 Series Toyota which will outperform any US HD offroad and moving payload.

These modified Hiluxes will most likely have modified suspensions, and I'd bet from ARB or another Australian or even Sth African company.

These are built with reliability, spares availability, speed, payload, endurance (diesel), etc in mind.

@Mr Knowitall
Battelle approach uses easy to get OEM parts including the engine. Navistar approach is best suited to a Large Combat Vehicle. That needs specialist parts

Do you realise there are different types of Special Forces operations that require different vehicles?

You read too many Marvel comics, Karl Marx book of economics and Sudanese Pickup Life.

Do you realise there are different types of Special Forces operations that require different vehicles?

You read too many Marvel comics, Karl Marx book of economics and Sudanese Pickup Life.

@ johnny doe,

How old are you? You are such a whiny little feminist boy that lacks any knowledge of a truck period!

I do not see any Colorado's or Rangers deployed much by U.S. forces. They choose Toyota trucks because they have a solid base to work with unlike the gurl domestic trucks.

So you can rip on Toyota's all you want and be a racist bytch about it, but your tax dollars are buying Toyota trucks, not GM or Fords!

Folks, johnny doe is what's wrong with this nation!

These whiny tide pod eating, lack of proper discipline, racist and ignorant fools give truck owners a bad name in this world. And you know what I am talking about!

As a Marine Veteran, I have seen many vehicles off-road, and I have seen some crazy Toyota's do incredible things out there. johnny doe lacks real world experience, period!

Thank God for Big Al. The rest of us would be lost without his brilliance.

@papa jim--I don't have the knowledge or expertise to know how much it costs to modify these Toyotas. I do believe that there are abuses in Government contracts with unnecessary cost overruns. I don't know if this is the case with this contract but I do believe that these are good vehicles from the standpoint of blending in and they have a proven record of reliability and are easier to get parts for on a Global basis which is one major reason they are popular Globally. Modifying a full size American truck or something like a Colorado for Special Forces would make them standout and would make it harder for Special Forces to do their missions.

HAHAHA! Look at oxi go! Boy do I sure have her mad!

This johnny doe has proven her age and ignorance!

I say 16 to maybe 18 with daddy's truck?

Has Johnny Dough.Head ever posted something constructive or not a personal attack?

And Dough.Head is a fitting description. Considering he copy/paste the same comment a while back, yet did so under an old alias and also “ johnny doe “, it’s more of a compliment than anything.

Thank God for Big Al. The rest of us would be lost without his brilliance.

Posted by: papajim | Apr 8, 2018 8:48:53 AM

Considering up until recently you would incorrectly state that “ Ford adds van sales to F Series totals “ on their monthly sales reports ( and have since changed your assertion to say “ truck sales “ ), brilliance is something that eludes you.

I came, I saw, I conquered.---Caesar

Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead.---Adm. Farragut

The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.---FDR

Ask what you can do for your country.---JFK

Do you realise there are different types of Special Forces operations that require different vehicles? ---Big Al



Since Ford does not share the details of their monthly totals, we are pretty much in the dark.

They could be counting old dixie cups for all we know. Fear not, soon they'll have the Ranger sales data to mix in. Presuming they actually have a Ranger in the works.

03 in Iraq Tacoma TRD crew cabs (usually in black) were common with SF.

They also had highly specialized/customized HMMWVs.

Their Taco TRDs were usually pretty stock. Just a gun mount or 2 and maybe radios.

Their Taco TRDs were usually pretty stock. Just a gun mount or 2 and maybe radios.
Posted by: Clint | Apr 9, 2018

My point exactly

It's according to what kind of ops they are performing dictates the vehicle type. You will find the Special Forces guys will have dozens of differently configured vehicles.

The USAF has lots of aircraft, but a AAR can't be used for ground support or air superiority.

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