The new kit comes after the SAS Afghanistan commander Major Sebastian Morley resigned over inadequate vehicles for troops. The ultra-tough Buffalo was the model for the evil Transformers toy Bonecrusher, a fierce fighter that “hates this planet and all its inhabitants,” according to toy firm Hasbro.
In the hit Holly wood spin-off movie, Bonecrusher is one of a string of evil alien robots that invade Earth and turn into well-known military weapons and vehicles. Bonecrusher changes from the Buffalo into a raging hunch-backed robot as it clashes with Optimus Prime and the US military.
Now defence chiefs want the real Bonecrusher to change sides and take on the Taliban by smashing its way through the booby-trapped roads of Afghanistan. The 20-tonne, six-wheeled monster has a long hydraulic arm with a rake attachment to scoop up and smash suspected roadside bombs.
The vehicle also has a V-shaped chassis that directs the force of any blast away from the occupants and special cage armour to deflect anti-tank rockets. US military bosses gave DreamWorks movie studio permission to turn the vehicle into an evil Decepticon Transformer for last year’s hit movie which starred Shia LaBeouf and Megan Fox.
Pentagon officials approved the script because they liked the portrayal of US armed services valiantly battling
invading robots. Other hi-tech US weapons used in the film included an F-22 Raptor fighter jet and the Pave Low
helicopter. Manufacturers Force Protection even sent one of the hulking vehicles to the Hollywood studio so computer artists could accurately reproduce it on screen.
“It’s pretty cool to have a character in a movie based upon one of our company’s designs,” said Derek Parker, engineering manager at Force Protection. “But as menacing as the Transformer looks on film, the Buffalo’s real-life mission means it must be even more rugged.”
The Buffalo is definitely not a toy – and has been a huge success in Iraq, where it has been used by US troops since 2003.
“I want to send a letter of thanks to all the personnel who work day after day building the Buffalos which have saved my life and my Marines’ lives on many occasions out here in Iraq,” wrote Gabriel Wilson, a Marine, in a note posted at the Force Protection website.
The trucks, known as MPVs – or mine protected vehicles in military jargon – are just part of a fleet of 700 new vehicles that will be sent out to Afghanistan within the next couple of years. Also on order are 100 Jackal fast patrol vehicles, 100 heavily-armed Warthogs and 400 armoured support trucks of different sizes known as Wolfhound, Husky and Coyote.
“The threat against our troops on the ground in Afghanistan has evolved significantly,” said the Defence Secretary John Hutton.“It is vital that we respond to these new threats to ensure the best possible protection for our people.”