The Polaris DAGOR (Deployable Advanced Ground Off-Road) Ultralight Tactical Vehicle is now in service with several NATO nations, writes Bob Morrison.
As the tenth birthday of the Polaris DAGOR Ultralight Tactical Vehicle approaches, and with a batch of this 3850kg GVW 4×4 recently being procured for Romanian Special Operations Forces, now seems like a good time to dust off some library images and create an album. However, first lets look at a couple extracts from the July 2023 press release issued by Polaris Government & Defence.
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Press Release, Minneapolis, 11 July 2023: Romania Orders Polaris DAGOR.
Polaris Government and Defense has been awarded a contract to provide its DAGOR ultralight tactical vehicle to Romania. More than 50 of the off-road and internally transportable vehicles will deliver enhanced tactical mobility to Romanian Armed Forces for current and emerging threats. Romania, a NATO member country, will receive the vehicles via the US government’s Foreign Military Sales (FMS) programme, which seeks to build up forces and allies around the world, most recently with an emphasis in the European Command (EUCOM). The contract also includes up-fit and spare parts for the vehicles as well as operator and maintenance training, which will be conducted in-country by Polaris field service representatives.
Interoperability is critical in today’s conflicts, and the Polaris DAGOR provides platform commonality to the special mission community, with customers around the world including US forces, Canadian Special Operations Forces Command (CANSOFCOM), multiple European militaries and additional global forces. Polaris military vehicles have become force multipliers for expeditionary forces by extending mission range while mitigating operator fatigue and increasing mission readiness and capability.
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As evidenced above, with the exception of the CANSOFCOM contract which was publicised at the time by the Canadian DND, Polaris is not particularly forthcoming about precisely which of its customers outside of North America use the DAGOR. Unfortunately, and to some extent understandably, manufacturers are often prevented from discussing their military sales by confidentiality clauses in the contract and no sales team with an eye to follow-on contracts is likely to jeopardise this prospect by blabbing to the media about their past sales. It has long been presumed that DAGOR is in British service, and indeed in the not too distant past UK MoD has rolled out two different DAGOR vehicles at high profile publicity events, but one should bear in mind that the existence of photos ‘promoting a message’ cannot be taken as confirmation that frontline (or, for that matter, behind enemy lines) user units actually hold these vehicles on their inventory. Remember that old maxim which states the best way to confuse your enemies is to first confuse your friends!
DAGOR made its international debut at IDEX 2015 in Abu Dhabi but my first opportunity to photograph a example in the field would not come until Exercise ANAKONDA 2016 in Poland, where a large number of US 82nd Airborne Division personnel, with British Army Paras attached, crossed the Atlantic and parachuted into a drop zone to the south of Torun. A number of Polaris MRZR Light Tactical All-Terrain Vehicles were also dropped from the C-17 transport aircraft, quite some distance away from our vantage point, and shortly after the drop three US Paras in a DAGOR appeared from behind us. With hindsight I now suspect that this near pristine DAGOR might have been a loaned company demonstrator because it carried no US Army or unit markings.
The next time I came across a DAGOR, at IDEX 2017 in Abu Dhabi, it was definitely a company demonstrator and I suspect this was probably the same vehicle which was exhibited by Polaris a few months later inside Copehill Down at an Army Warfighting Experiment industry and media day. Roll forward a couple of years and French Special Forces used both a DAGOR and an MRZR in their dynamic display during SOFINS 2019 at Camp de Souge; I suspect both were probably company demonstrators rather than in-service French military vehicles.
Last minute flight cancellations caused by a resurgence of that pesky pandemic prevented me covering SOFINS 2021, but at this year’s show the UK wing of Polaris Defense took a DAGOR demonstrator over to Camp de Souge for 2023. During a quiet spell their demo driver took me out onto the French Special Forces driver off-road training area so that I could snap some exclusive photos for JOINT-FORCES. Unfortunately it was not possible to crew the DAGOR, which was sporting a Dillon Aero 7.62mm Minigun, with SF personnel on this occasion but the official company photos should give an idea of how this interesting vehicle looks in nine-person and four / five-person configurations when fully crewed.
[images © Bob Morrison unless noted]