A first at Eglin Air Force Base, the 728th Air Control Squadron is currently installing armored survivability kits on their Humvees, aftermarket modifications to toughen up the Air Force workhorses.
MSgt. Thomas Batton says, “The kit consists of a front plate right and left side, the lower plate right and left side, the door, these are all armored steel AK-47 resistant.”
A steel plate also lines the back of the driver's cab and a six-inch-think window gives further protection. A two-door Humvee kit costs about $6,000.
A four-door kit is a bit more at $9,000.
The squadron has also purchased several Kevlar blankets that can be placed on the floorboards and truck bed. The $3,800 blankets can give some protection from hand grenades and pipe bombs.
The prices can add up, but airmen say you can't put a price on saving lives.
“Lives are important. You can replace this Humvee. You're looking at 60 to $70,000. A Humvee is easy to replace, but a human life is not easy to replace.”
The kits do add a significant amount of weight to the vehicles, which can take away from their performance, but these airmen say it’s a tradeoff they'll gladly take.
The 728th has so far ordered nine of the armor kits.