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11 Jun, 2013 20:31

US Special Forces testing stealth motorcycle

US Special Forces testing stealth motorcycle

The US Special Operations Forces may soon become equipped with stealth motorcycles that can silently go off-road, operate while submerged a meter underwater, and turn on infrared lighting systems at night.

With a keyless ignition, blackout capabilities, no intake or exhaust, and replaceable battery packs, the MMX motorcycle can travel quickly, efficiently, and nearly soundlessly – even on rough terrain. Zero Motorcycles developed the vehicle under US military contract. The vehicle is painted a matte black, which allows the machine to appear inconspicuous and disappear in the dark.

Its modular power pack system allows the driver to change the battery in less than a minute. Each rechargeable battery pack allows the motorcycle to run for about two hours before needing a replacement or a recharge.

A fleet of the motorbikes is currently undergoing full operational testing for the US Special Operations Forces.

"It was a very rewarding experience for the Zero team to go through such an exacting development process. The military needed a very specific set of core features on the MMX, and we were incredibly thankful to work side-by-side with them to deliver such a unique product,” Abe Askenazi, chief technology officer for Zero Motorcycles, said in a press release.

The 2013 Zero MMX military motorcycle was specially designed for use in U.S. Special Operation Forces. (Photo courtesy of Zero)

The MMX is not for sale to the general public, but the company says it is using the knowledge it gained in creating it to construct more powerful motorcycles for consumers.

“The great news for our civilian customers is that we made the decision to incorporate into our 2013 MX, FX, and XU retail motorcycles virtually all of the powertrain enhancements associated with satisfying this project’s stringent military requirements. Our 2013 product is truly ‘military grade’!” Askenazi added.

The MX, which is available to civilians, starts at $9,495.00.

Zero Motorcyles has created bikes for security and law enforcement agencies since it launched the DS Police motorcycle in 2012. The latest innovation will allow Special Operations Forces to carry out its missions in a more low-profile, clandestine manner.

It remains unclear how many of the new motorcycles are being tested or for what the Special Ops plans to use the silent bikes, but the agents will gain the capability to cover more ground in a more efficient way. The agency already employs motorcycles in its missions across Afghanistan.

“The use of off-road motorcycles greatly increased mobility when operating in rugged terrain,” an unnamed American soldier told The Examiner in 2009. “The motorcycles gave us the ability to conduct long-range reconnaissance or position personnel in terrain that was inaccessible to Ground Military Vehicles. We found that the motorcycles could even navigate terrain that was inaccessible to four-wheel drive ATV’s…They could dart up onto surrounding hilltops or run ahead of or back to the rear of the formation.”

The maneuverability of motorcycles also allows agents to more easily avoid Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). 

No information has been released about the US Special Operations Forces' potential plans for the contracted motorbikes.