Polaris MRZR Becoming Light Force Tactical Vehicle of Choice

Ultra-Light Tactical Vehicle (ULTV).
Ultra-Light Tactical Vehicle (ULTV).

The United States Marine Corps’ Systems Command (MCSC) announced on 7 June 2023 that it will begin fielding the Ultra-Light Tactical Vehicle (ULTV) to fill the Corps requirements for highly deployable ground mobility for its future Force Design 2030.

With this acquisition the US Marines join a growing list of US and international militaries not only adopting lightweight vehicles but specifically selecting the Polaris line. The selected Polaris vehicle is the MRZR Alpha model.

The MRZR will replace the currently fielded UTV (Utility Task Vehicle) which first entered service in 2017. The UTV is a commercial off-the-shelf vehicle also developed and offered by Polaris. The Marines introduced a number of enhancements to the commercial design based on user feedback. Their requirement in the ULTV further reflects experience with these earlier vehicles, as well as, taking advantage of expanded capabilities being made available by manufacturers, including Polaris, in its most recent models.

Jennifer Moore, MCSC’s Program Manager for Light Tactical Vehicles explained “The ULTV is more than just a tactical vehicle…The ability to rapidly configure the ULTV to suit diverse mission needs enhancing our capabilities in previously unimagined ways.” The ULTV will provide Marine infantry needs ranging from logistical support, casualty evacuation to command and control and electronic warfare missions.

Ultra-Light Tactical Vehicle (ULTV).
Ultra-Light Tactical Vehicle (ULTV).

The initial ULTV deliveries have already been made to the 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment with the I Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF). Deliveries will continue to I MEF through August while additional requirements are being considered.

The US Marine introduction of the ULTV follows the application of similar vehicles by other military organizations. The United Kingdom’s Royal Marines have been evaluating the Polaris MRZR-D4 since 2021. This included their use in joint training with US Marines. The Canadian Special Operations have been using the Polaris DAGOR since 2016 while various US Special Operations Command units have been long term users.

The MZRZ Alpha is the most recent evolution of the MZRZ by Polaris. It is offered in two and four passenger versions both equipped with a common rail turbo diesel engine. The MZRZ Alpha 4 has up to 2000 lb payload capacity with selectable 2-wheel and 4-wheel drive with an eight-speed automatic transmission. The MRZR Alpha retains its capability to be internally transported in the MV-22 Osprey and the CH-53 while also adding the ability to be externally sling lifted.

The adaptability of the MRZR Alpha has been enhanced by the addition of exportable power capability. The vehicle has been configured to a wide range of mission tasks. These have included its being outfitted with counter unmanned aerial systems, direct-fire weapons, high-energy lasers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems, tactical aviation ground refuelling system, expeditionary command and control systems, autonomy packages, litters for casualty evacuation and communication equipment.

by Stephen W. Miller