The Biggest, Baddest Military Vehicles In The American Arsenal

In 2019, the Department of Defense was given a budget of $686.1 billion for military spending. The number, which ballooned from $612 billion just four years before, was described as “$617 billion for the base budget and another $69 billion for war funding.” With all that money being pumped into our armed forces, it’s no surprise the United States military has some of the most intimidating armed vehicles in the world. Keep reading to learn about some of the biggest and most loaded vehicles in the American arsenal!

The M1117 Guardian Can Reach Freeway Speeds

m1117 military vehicle
Franz J. Marty/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images
Franz J. Marty/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

In the world of military vehicles, how fast you can go is not always the most important question to ask. The power provided by the engine is used for multiple purposes, oftentimes turning top speed into an afterthought.

The M1117 flips that narrative on its head and can reach speeds of up to 70 miles per hour. In comparison, most large military vehicles only reach top speeds between 25 and 45 miles per hour.

The M1 Shredder Helps Clear The Way

m1 assault breacher
Department of Defense
Department of Defense

The M1 Shredder Assault Breacher was brought into service by the Army and US Marine Corps to replace the M1 Grizzly. The massive tank that looks like it could be used as a devastating weapon is actually used by our forces to clear the way for other vehicles and units.

Essentially, the Shredder clears the path by ramming its way through other vehicles or debris that may lay in the roadway. If it does need to take the offensive, though, it is fully equipped with smoke grenades and high volume projectile shooters.

The M2 Bradley Has Room For 10

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CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images
CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images

The M2 Bradley is a combat vehicle through and through. The heavily armored tank can reach top speeds of 35 miles per hour, can hold 10 soldiers at a time, features a 600-horsepower engine, and is loaded with a 22 mm Bushmaster cannon and armor-piercing missiles.

To make sure no one is left stranded on the battlefield, the M2 also holds up to 155 gallons of fuel. It can go the distance, and then some!

The Buffalo Clearance Vehicle Helps Get Mines Out Of The Way

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DANIEL MIHAILESCU/AFP via Getty Images
DANIEL MIHAILESCU/AFP via Getty Images

A massive vehicle that weighs 76,000 pounds and measures 27 feet long, the Buffalo Clearance Vehicle is one of the most important in the military’s arsenal. Known as a mine-protected route clearance vehicle (MPCV), it can reach speeds of 55 miles per hour and has a 30-foot robotic arm with an attached camera and sensory devices to help clear dangerous routes for other vehicles.

The Buffalo was also designed with a V-shaped hull that keeps explosive impact from mines to the minimum.

The Global Hut Is A Tow Truck For Tanks

military het vehicle
Sean Chang/Wikimedia Commons
Sean Chang/Wikimedia Commons

Not every tank is built with a gas tank big enough for long-distance travel. When the military needs to move a short distance assault tank a long distance, they turn to the Oshkosh Global Heavy Equipment Transporter (HET).

The six-wheeled heavy-duty vehicle is capable of 700 horsepower and runs on a Caterpillar C18 engine. The overall payload capacity is 72 tons, making it t the perfect vehicle to transport large tanks to near their target destinations.

The Black Knight Transformer Owns The Land And Air

black knight transformer prototype
Advanced Tactics
Advanced Tactics

If burning down the desert at 70 miles per hour isn’t enough to get your motor running then the Black Knight Transformer is what you’re looking for. Once you’re bored of driving, take it airborne for a truly unique military experience.

Billed as a truck/helicopter hybrid, the Transformer was designed by Advanced Tactics and can reach heights of up to 10,000 feet. The company introduced the vehicle as a concept in 2012, and it has been in development ever since.

The MI1A2 Was A Long Time In The Making

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Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images
Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

Military tanks take a long time to build, test, and approve. The M1A1 was first deployed in 1980 and was one of the military’s top tanks until the M1A2 was brought into the fold. It took over a decade for the upgraded vehicle to be deployed, and it was worth the wait.

The MIA2 Abrams Main Battle Tank has the same frame as its predecessor but is built with depleted uranium armor for better overall protection. It has more tech capabilities and a more efficiently designed commander’s weapon station, as well.

The LVSR Wrecker Is A Favorite Of The Marines

lvsr mkr15 wrecker
Oshkosh Defense
Oshkosh Defense

A huge 10×10 support vehicle that is a top choice of the marines is the LVSR MKR15 Wrecker. By the name you probably can’t guess what the vehicle’s intended purpose is — it’s a rescuer.

When other vehicles become stuck in the mud, snow, sand, or any other kind of questionable terrain, the Wrecker is brought in to pull them out. Towing from the front, it can pull anything up to 96,000 pounds. Towing from behind, it can reach weights of 78,000 pounds.

The Cougar 6×6 MRAP Is The Highest Of The High End

cougar mine resistant vehicle
United States Navy
United States Navy

The Cougar is a mine-resistant, ambush-protected (MRAP) family of military vehicles, and the 6×6 is the highest end of the entire lot. It comes standard with an automatic grenade launcher and can withstand rocket-propelled grenade fire, too.

The 6×6 has a huge Caterpillar C-7 diesel engine capable of 350 horsepower and 860 pound-feet of torque. The vehicle’s incredible fuel capacity also gives it an overall range of 600 miles, which can be vitally important depending on the mission.

The M88A2 Hercules Has Unmatched Strength

m88a2 hercules recovery vehicle
Department of Defense
Department of Defense

The M88A2 Hercules Recovery Vehicle has played a part in several high profile military campaigns, and with good reason. The strength of the M88 is unmatched. It was designed to weigh a whopping 35 tons with 70-ton constant pull abilities.

The Hercules’ engine reaches capacity at 1,050 horsepower, making the vehicle capable of reaching 30 miles per hour. Perhaps most famously, the M88A2 was used in one mission to pull down a long-standing statue of a foreign dictator.

The CAMEL MRAP Is Modern Day IED Protection

camel mrap vehicle
Department of Defense
Department of Defense

The “concept for advanced military explosion-mitigating land vehicle,” or CAMEL for short, is an 8×8 concept created by Detroit Arsenal to show the future of military vehicles. The company used the opportunity to highlight new technology after analyzing weaknesses from recent campaigns.

The result was a vehicle with a V-shaped bottom that delivers a new, safer way for soldiers to be able to defend against unavoidable IEDs. Only the best intentions went into building the new military beast.

The M142 HIMARS Is Like A Rocket Launcher On Wheels

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Dondi Tawatao/Getty Images
Dondi Tawatao/Getty Images

With enough room for three people, the lightweight M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) is a weapon on wheels. The mobile rocket launcher is capable of launching one MGM-140 ATACMS missile or six M270 rockets up to 186 miles away.

Even more incredible, the HIMARS can reach top speeds of more than 50 miles per hour and has an overall travel range of 300 miles. It was developed by Lockheed Martin and can be transported by the Lockheed C-130 Hercules when needed.

The M9 Armored Combat Earthmover Can Knock Down Almost Anything

combat vehicle
Department of Defense
Department of Defense

The “ACE,” or Armored Combat Earthmover, is best described as an unstoppable force once it really gets moving. Thanks to this reputation, it has been a staple in the military since it was first introduced, and likely won’t lose favor anytime soon.

The M9 is still one of the most destructive vehicles in the American arsenal. It can clear river banks, smash almost any obstacle, provide cover for allied forces, knock down walls, and provide protection while setting up an area. Most importantly, it only needs one soldier to operate it.

The QinetiQ Raider 1 Engineer Can Be Operated From 1,000 Yards Away

qinetiq military vehicle
QinetiQ North America
QinetiQ North America

On the surface, this vehicle might not look like much, but its versatility cannot be understated. The QinetiQ Raider 1 can be remote-controlled from over 1,000 yards away. This helps keep soldiers safe as the vehicle is used to identify and take out IEDs.

The design of the Raider 1 is fairly simple as well. It’s based on the Polaris MVRS700, is equipped with clearance tools, and also has engineer support for evacuations and command operations.

The Autonomous Terramax Could Revolutionize Future Military Operations

TerraMax self driving vehicle
Oshkosh
Oshkosh

The Autonomous Terramax from Oshkosh flew under the radar when it was first introduced. While Google was busy wowing the world with its own self-driving concept car, the defense manufacturer created what will hopefully keep soldiers safer overseas.

The idea behind the autonomous Terramax is clear — create a way to keep as many brave men and women out of harm’s way as possible. If the car can be programmed and controlled from a remote location, the American military can do just that.

Is There Anything More Classic Than A Humvee?

military vehicle
Bettmann/Getty Images
Bettmann/Getty Images

You didn’t think we would write a list about the best military vehicles and not include the Humvee, did you? One of the longest-standing vehicles in the American brigade, the Humvee was so popular at one point that it was manufactured and sold by GMC as a consumer vehicle.

The consumer Humvee, of course, was largely different than the military vehicle, which comes with protective armor, plenty of weaponry, and a 6.5-liter diesel engine with four-wheel-drive.

The P-19R Aircraft Firefighter Is Exactly What It Sounds Like

P-19R aircraft firefighter
Oshkosh
Oshkosh

When an aircraft goes down in enemy territory, there is only one vehicle the military trusts for the rescue mission — the P-19R Aircraft Firefighter (ARFF). The super-powered vehicle can get to the downed craft quickly and can carry 130 gallons of foam agent along with 1,000 gallons of water.

Never a company to settle, Oshkosh Defense began developing the next-generation version of this life saving and vital military resource in 2016.

The Stryker Combat Vehicle Provides The Perfect Cover

stryker combat vehicle
Scott Olson/Getty Images
Scott Olson/Getty Images

As troops are transported to locations or to new battle areas, they need cover. The Stryker Combat Vehicle was designed and is used to provide that hugely important necessity.

The Stryker has eight wheels and is ammunition resistant for several kinds of weapons fire. In 2016, the military even began arming the vehicle with anti-tank guided missiles as another way to further ensure the safety of soldiers.

The AAV7 Amphibious Assault Vehicle Owns The Land And Sea

aav7 land and sea vehicle
KIM JAE-HWAN/AFP via Getty Images
KIM JAE-HWAN/AFP via Getty Images

Used for marine operations, the AAV7 is capable of being used on both the land and in the water. It takes a crew of three to operate and can handle an additional 25 soldiers.

On land, the AAV7 has an impressive range of 300 miles. While in the sea it is much more limited, maxing out at 20 miles. To help defend the troops inside, the vehicle has a 25 mm Bushmaster cannon and a 40 mm grenade launcher.

The M109A7 Tank Was A Big Upgrade In 2014

m109A7
BAE Systems
BAE Systems

For decades, the U.S. Army Armored Brigade Combat Team (ABCT) relied heavily on the M109A6 Paladin. Eventually, the Paladin needed to be upgraded, so BAE systems started the process to modernize the old tank in 2014.

The upgrades turned into the M109A7, which made the tank more combat capable, catching up to the technological advances it was not yet up to date with. The upgrade also included a brand new digital suite for a tank and as well as a redesigned chassis.

Lockheed C-5 Galaxy

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Michal Fludra/NurPhoto via Getty Images
Michal Fludra/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The C-5 Galaxy is an absolutely incredible plane that provides the U.S. Air Force with a heavy intercontinental airlift capable of carrying oversized loads with ease.

It’s one of the largest military aircraft in the world and is extremely expensive to build. The cheapest model of the C-5 goes for around $100.37 million and can range up to about $224.29 million. It still remains active today but was originally introduced in 1970.

Convair XC-99

convair-38673
Twitter / @historylvrsclub
Twitter / @historylvrsclub

It’s interesting to note that one of the biggest planes in the world is also one of the oldest. The Convair XC-99 had a design capacity of 100,000 lbs for 400 fully equipped soldiers on its double cargo decks. The XC-99 first took flight all the way back in 1947 and was retired in 1957.

The U.S. Air Force used it as a heavy cargo plane and it was the biggest piston-engined, land-based transport plane ever constructed.

Antonov An-124

An-124-100-68928
Wikimedia / Bushman787
Wikimedia / Bushman787

The 226-foot aircraft was built by the Antonov Design Bureau in the 1980s and has since become synonymous in both military and commercial aviation. There was more than 50 of them produced and used around the world.

It was a strategic airlift quad-jet that was the heaviest cargo airplane for thirty years and the second-heaviest cargo aircraft in the world. It was surpassed by the Antonov AN-225 which you’ll be able to read about very shortly.

HK-1

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Frederic Lewis/Getty Images
Frederic Lewis/Getty Images

The HK 1, or the “Spruce Goose” as it was more widely known because it was made almost entirely out of birch, was originally meant to be a transatlantic transport aircraft during the Second World War. The only problem was that it wasn’t finished in time to actually be put into service.

The U.S. military ended up only flying it once in 1947 and only one prototype was ever built. It’s now on display at the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum.

Blohm & Voss BV 238

blohm-and-voss-21088
Twitter / @lasungundaguerra
Twitter / @lasungundaguerra

The Blohm and Voss BV 238 was a German flying boat built during World War II. At the time, it was the heaviest aircraft ever when it first flew in 1944. The BV 238 had an empty weight of 120,769 pounds, but only one was ever built because of the resources it took to put it together.

It holds the title of being the largest aircraft produced by any of the Axis powers during the war as well.

Antonov AN-225 Mriya

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Paul Kane/Getty Images
Paul Kane/Getty Images

This strategic airlift cargo aircraft is powered by six turbofan engines and is the longest and heaviest plane ever built.

It was originally developed to transport the Buran spaceplane for the USSR in the 80s. It can take off with a maximum weight of 640 tons and has the longest wingspan of any aircraft at the time it was built, and out of any current operational aircraft in the world.

Ilyushin Il-76

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Marina LystsevaTASS via Getty Images
Marina LystsevaTASS via Getty Images

This aircraft was built during the tensest moments of the Cold War and still remains active to this day. In fact, there are 1,000 of them in operation around the world.

Originally developed for the USSR, the Ilyushin II-76 was a multi-purpose, four-engine turbofan airlifter that was supposed to be a commercial freighter but ended up being adopted by the Russian military. It’s capable of delivering some of the heaviest machinery and military vehicles in the world.

Convair B-36 Peacemaker

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Universal History Archive/ UIG via Getty Images
Universal History Archive/ UIG via Getty Images

The Convair B-36 Peacemaker was operated by the United States Air Force from 1949 until 1959. It had a fairly short lifespan, but still remains the largest mass-produced piston-engined aircraft ever built.

It had the longest wingspan of any combat aircraft ever built at 230 ft. The B-36 was special in that it was capable of delivering any nuclear weapons in the U.S. arsenals at the time without any modifications. It ended up being replaced by the Boeing B-52 Stratofortress near the end of the 50s.

Boeing C-17 Globemaster III

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Marina LystsevaTASS via Getty Images
Marina LystsevaTASS via Getty Images

The C-17 Globemaster III is one of the biggest military planes to hit the skies. The Globemaster III was first delivered in 1991 and was produced up until 2015 before it was discontinued. The per-unit cost was about $218 million and was created by McDonnell Douglas.

It was used for strategic and tactical airlift missions that would often include airdrops of heavy machinery or people and immediate medical evacuations. This thing is an absolute beast.

Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules

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RAVEENDRAN/AFP/Getty Images
RAVEENDRAN/AFP/Getty Images

Any aircraft that has the word “Hercules” in the title, nevermind “Super Hercules,” is going to be a force to be reckoned with. The C-130J first took flight in 1996 for the U.S. Air Force and has since been delivered to 15 other nations who have placed orders.

It’s a four-engine turboprop transport plane that has been in continuous production longer than any other military aircraft in history. While this exact model is roughly two decades old, the Hercules family has been around for nearly six.

Martin JRM Mars

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Education Images/UIG via Getty Images
Education Images/UIG via Getty Images

The Martin JRM Mars is a four-engine seaplane that was popularized during World War II. It was the largest seaplane that was used by the Americans and other Allied forces during the War.

There were only seven of them built despite how impressive and effective they were. Four of the remaining flying boats transitioned into civilian use after the war was over. They turned into firefighting water bombers which made them even more useful. Those models have since been retired.

Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker

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aviation-images.com/UIG via Getty Images
aviation-images.com/UIG via Getty Images

There’s no easy way to refuel strategic bombers, but that’s exactly what the KC-135 Stratotanker’s task is. It was used a lot during the Vietnam War for the Americans and would become a huge strategic benefit in Operation Desert Storm.

It’s interesting to note that the KC-135 and the Boeing 707 were both developed from the same aircraft (the Boeing 367-80). The 136 ft aircraft became revolutionary in that it was the United States Air Force’s first ever jet-powered refueling tanker.

NASA Super Guppy

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Jeff Gritchen/Digital First Media/Orange County Register via Getty Images
Jeff Gritchen/Digital First Media/Orange County Register via Getty Images

This was the very first aircraft to be made by Aero Spacelines. The plane was designed for cargo, which should be pretty obvious just by having a quick glance. It was the successor to the Pregnant Guppy, and all Super Guppys currently remain in service.

There have been five planes built in two different variants of the Guppy aircraft which have been referred to as “Super Guppy.” It’s pretty obvious how it got its name, so we won’t even go there.

Xian H-6 Bomber

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Marina LystsevaTASS via Getty Images
Marina LystsevaTASS via Getty Images

The H-6 Bomber was first delivered to the Chinese military in 1958 and has enjoyed quite an impressive and successful career. While the Chinese didn’t end up getting too much use out of it, the Iraqi and Egyptian Air Forces certainly did. In fact, the Iraqi Air Force retired the plane in 1991, while the Egyptian Air Force would retire the plane in 2000.

It’s a variation of the Tupolev Tu-16 twin-engine bomber that was originally built for the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force.

Boeing E-3 Sentry

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Diane S. Robinson/U.S. Air Force/Getty Images
Diane S. Robinson/U.S. Air Force/Getty Images

The Boeing E-3 Sentry is an American airborne early warning and control aircraft. It’s used by the U.S. Air Force to provide all-weather surveillance, command, control, communications and constant updates.

The E-3 is distinguished by distinctive rotating radar domes above the fuselage. There was 68 of these built before they stopped production in 1992. The radars used pulse-Doppler technology which played a crucial role in directing coalition aircraft against the enemy in Operation Desert Storm.

Boeing B-52 Stratofortress

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aviation-images.com/UIG via Getty Images
aviation-images.com/UIG via Getty Images

The Boeing B-52 Stratofortress is an American, long-range, jet-powered, strategic bomber. It has been in use by the United States Air Force since the 1950s and has the capability to carry up to 70,000 pounds of weapons. Without the need to refuel, the bomber can travel up to 8,800 miles.

Originally built to carry nuclear warheads during the Cold War, it replaced the Convair B-36. The plane has remained active in service since 1955 and as of 2015, 58 were still in active service with 18 in reserve.

Airbus Beluga

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aviation-images.com/UIG via Getty Images
aviation-images.com/UIG via Getty Images

The Airbus A300-600ST or “Beluga,” is a wide-body airliner that has been modified to carry aircraft parts and oversized cargo that most other planes wouldn’t have been able to fit. While it was officially named the Super Transporter, its nickname the “Beluga” stuck, as is resembles a beluga whale.

It entered service in 1995 and largely replaced the Super Guppy, serving numerous different countries in Europe. It has a payload bay that is 124-feet long that allows it to carry almost 52 tons.

Antonov An-22

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Vladimir Shtanko/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
Vladimir Shtanko/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

The Antonov An-22 was a plane that was produced for only a ten-year period between 1966 and 1976. However, the model that was introduced at the 1965 Paris Air Show was different from the rest that were produced which ended up having a nose-mounted radar.

Designed in the USSR by the Antonov Design Bureau, it has four turboprop engines which power contra-rotating propellers. It was also the first wide-body transport aircraft in the world.

Boeing B-29 Superfortress

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aviation-images.com/UIG via Getty Images
aviation-images.com/UIG via Getty Images

Manufactured between the years 1943 and 1946, the B-29 Superfortress were designed for battle in World War II and were the single most expensive weapons project undertaken by the United States during World War II. The planes had a four-engine prop and were so effective in World War II, that they were even used in the Korean War as well.

When first being produced, it was one of the most highly technological planes in the sky with the design process being more expensive than the Manhattan Project.

Tupolev Tu-160

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TASS via Getty Images
TASS via Getty Images

The Tupolev Tu-160 is currently the largest and heaviest combat aircraft in use. It belongs to the Russian Air Force and first began being used in 1987, making it one of the last strategic bombers designed for the Soviet Union before its dissolution.

It is a supersonic plane that is mostly used as a strategic bomber. Currently, it is the heaviest and largest military-type aircraft that has the ability to surpass the speed of Mach 2.