Mark McCormick, the senior director at Polaris Government and Defense, took time from his busy conference floor schedule to provide MONCh with a wide-ranging overview of his portfolio.
The company’s DAGOR product line continues to expand. While this product has evolved to include the A1 and Ultra-Light Combat Vehicle (ULCV) configurations, baseline enhancements are also underway. As the original DAGOR launched in 2015 incorporated changes from the typically long-gestating Pentagon acquisition process, the A1and ULCV include the latest features and accessories gained from customer interaction, the optimization of commercial off-the-shelf content when feasible, and the company’s R&D efforts. “We also try to leverage the construct of DAGOR we began with – something that had commercial off-the-shelf subsystems – so it continues to be a vehicle that is easy to maintain and is an easy way to get parts and make repairs because of that,” Mr. McCormick noted. In one instance, the DAGOR’s power train evolved from an international, commercial available engine and transmission, that happened to have the ability to operate with heavy fuel (JP8). “And so again, it is something that makes a real common-sense approach, for us to offer a system with ease to get parts, and not having a unique power train system,” he added.
As 2018 SOFIC convened, the US Army announced the acquisition of 20 MRZR X multi-mode vehicle platform vehicles to be one of the robotic systems used by infantry brigade combat teams for the next year of the service’s Phase II trials supporting the Squad Multipurpose Equipment Transport (SMET) programme. “The MRZR is now in all of the US armed services and about 34 international countries,” the corporate executive pointed out and added, “With MRZR X, we’re leveraging that platform to have a vehicle go forward in the SMET competition that offers both the utility of a drivable MRZR product, with a ‘switch on the fly’ between a robotic capability or a drivable MRZR X.” MRZR X continues to be collaborative effort of Team Polaris – consisting of Polaris Government and Defense and its partners, Applied Research Associates, Inc. and its subsidiary Neya Systems LLC.
Polaris also remains focused on providing other aspects of life cycle support, from assembly line to the final disposition of the customer’s vehicle, in order to maintain required mission readiness. While the company’s overseas military customers may rely on parts and repair support from the company’s global distributors and partners, deploying customers may also receive an “austere parts package”, when a Polaris-equipped unit needs to be in remote locations for extended periods of time.
Mr. McCormick equates the space in which Polaris has excelled as a “rubik’s cube” of the customer’s needs – on one hand, providing a vehicle with proper footprint (size and weight) that can be readily transported by CH-47s and -53s, as well as V-22s and even UH-60s, and concurrently, being able to carry the maximum weight required by the customer. “That overall weight is a real constraint and we feel we have the right size vehicle to fit the construct of: how much can it carry; where can it go; and how much does it weigh when it is not loaded.”
Looking out between 6-12 months on the company’s business horizon, the Polaris executive observed, “it’s all going to be about execution. We’re right in the middle of having a very successful programme of record with the US Marine Corps on their utility task vehicle (UTV). We’re perhaps a little past the middle of executing ULCV (Ultra-Light Combat Vehicle) DAGOR. We have another international customer, that I can’t reveal, that we are producing for. We have a lot of SOF activity and of course, there’s the Army Phase II SMET, just starting an 18-month programme, with about three quarters of the 20 vehicles ending up in the 18th Airborne Corps. All of these lead to how we can execute.”