Six by six of the best
The ADF is revelling in its new Mercs
Rover 110s they are replacing,
V6 turbo diesel Mercs have double the power, standard airconditioning and three differential locks to help traverse the worst tracks they’ll encounter in the bush.
The fleet has four-wheeled cab-chassis and wagons, along with two- and four-door sixwheelers. All use a reinforced chassis made of heavier gauge steel for airdrops and improved reliability, along with beefed-up front coil and rear leaf suspension to cope with the demands of military life.
The workhorse 6x6 variants were built specifically for the ADF’s requirement for a vehicle capable of carrying two tonnes while still towing another 1.5 tonnes. Australian engineering company G. H. Varley builds modules ranging from an ambulance that carries two stretcher patients and a medic to a canine transport and a longrange surveillance and reconnaissance platform.
Before the ADF requested them, the last six-wheeled G-wagons were built in 1941 and are still occasionally seen on repeats of Hogan’s Heroes.
Mercedes spokesman David McCarthy says strong interest has come from other countries for the variant, with the Swedes already putting in an order.
More than 60 countries rely on the G-wagon to transport troops and equipment.
Major Tim Keeffe has the task of rolling out the fleet and retraining the troops to use the vehicles. Based at RAAF Amberley in Queensland, he oversees the training of 24 staff each week and the deployment of 60 vehicles a month.
‘‘ It’s a big transition from the 110s,’’ Major Keeffe says.
‘‘ Everyone had a soft spot for the Land Rovers, but the platform was 30-odd years old and technology has moved on.
‘‘ Even the way we train the drivers is different because of the diff locks and extra torque the G-wagons have. It’s a step up in capability and comfort for the ADF.’’
Keeffe says comfort is a key consideration and not just from a health and safety position.
‘‘ These vehicles don’t put as much stress on the people in them, so they should be fresher and more alert when they reach their destination.