Semper Fine! Marines Get the Ride of Their Life

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The Marines, always proud of their mud-and-blood traditions, will soon be tooling around in swank, new Mercedes-Benz sport-utes. The World War II-designed jeeps have finally worn out, and the Marines decided that the Mercedes Gelandewagen best meets its need for a rugged off-road vehicle small enough to fit into helicopters. Most of the 62 vehicles have been sent to bases in California and North Carolina, and the final dozen will be delivered to Marines in Okinawa in time for Christmas.

The four-wheel-drive, five-cylinder turbodiesel Benzes cost about $5 million, or $80,000 apiece. The new interim fast-attack vehicle (obviously a name chosen by the Corps, not the manufacturer) comes in military green, with a canvas top, and has six seats — two more than the jeep. While it may lack the fancy seats and stereos sold to civilians, the IFAV does sport mounts for assorted machine guns and grenade launchers, as well as a snorkel that will keep air flowing to the engine in 30-inch-deep water.