The Jeep J8, based on the Wrangler JL and a potential UK GSUP contender to replace the Land Rover Defender, appeared at DVD 2022, reports Bob Morrison.
First displayed for potential military sales in 2007 at DSEi in London, after a redesign of the then Chrysler-owned Jeep Wrangler which had been unveiled as the JK model in the United States the previous year, the militarised J8 has proved popular with Central and South American military markets as well as being in use in quantity with both Egyptian and Taiwanese armed forces.
More recently, in October 2020, the Italian Ministry of Defence ordered the Jeep J8 as the replacement for its 1997-vintage fleet of AR 90 (Autovettura da Ricognizione 90) Land Rover Defenders and first examples are believed to already be in service, though neither Carl nor myself have yet had the chance to photograph any in the field. In July AADS announced that five US-funded J8 Jeeps, two armoured variants and three command vehicles, have now been supplied to the Croatian MoD for use on peacekeeping operations so at least three European NATO nations are now users.
The current Jeep Wrangler JL model is produced in Toledo in the United States by what is now the Dutch-based Stellantis multinational corporation, formed by the merger of Fiat Chrysler and PSA (Peugeot) last year, but final assembly of J8 Jeeps on the European side of the Atlantic is undertaken by AADS (African Automotive Distribution Services) based in Gibraltar. The earlier Egyptian-assembled J8 Jeeps were produced as the TJL model by AAV or Arab American Vehicles, a joint venture with Chrysler, which commenced production in Cairo in November 2008.
At DVD 2022 both Babcock International (a contractor which publicly states it is currently annually delivering over 800,000 hours of vehicle maintenance, repair and overhaul to the British Army) and Supacat / SC Group (a specialist Devon-based company in the design and development of high mobility defence vehicles field) had J8 Jeeps on their stands. Babcock, which was also promoting versions of the Land Cruiser 70-Series as supplied through Toyota Gibraltar, had an interesting gloss green five-door soft top Utility variant on their stand on the Millbrook Steering Pan and Supacat had a sand coloured five-door LPV or Light Patrol Vehicle on their Off-Road Exhibition Area stand. The Utility and Command (i.e. Station Wagon) versions of the Jeep J8, plus the three-door Troop Ambulance version which were not present at DVD 2022, all look like they could potentially meet UK MoD GSUP (General Support Utility Platform) requirements. The J8 LPV, on the other hand, might well be a contender for a separate UK MoD requirement for a Land Rover Defender WMIK (Weapons Mount Installation Kit) replacement, and of course if J8 was also selected by MoD for the GSUP requirement this would bring the benefits of commonality of spares.
Note: Although I do have AADS spec sheets for different Jeep J8 versions I am not quoting these here, at least for for the moment, as there are a number of inconsistencies and they may not apply to actual models/s proposed for future UK tenders. However it is worth noting that the J8 is available with various body lengths and heights and in both three-door and five-door configurations to suit different roles.
[images © Bob Morrison unless noted]