CRESTVIEW — Williams Communications is installing flood lights, emergency lights and sirens on a massive retired military armored mine resistant vehicle.
Employees are tight-lipped on the vehicle's destination, but the company outfits vehicles for a wide range of regional civilian and military law enforcement and emergency response agencies.
Technician Mark Williams, who drove the multi-ton BAE Systems Caiman into position Friday morning, said it is surprisingly agile and "it'll turn on a dime. You have to be careful going around corners."
The Caiman's armor has "worn out several drill bits" as the company's technicians mount external lights and equipment, Williams said.
The class of truck — designated an MRAP, or mine-resistant ambush protected vehicle — was developed in 2007 to combat U.S. soldiers' deaths from mines and improvised explosive devices in Iraq. New vehicles cost more than $400,000 each.
The Caiman's armored body is more than 3 inches thick, and the vehicle sports an armored gun turret. BAE produced 2,800 Caimans, according to U.S. Marine Corps figures quoted in Wikipedia.
The vehicle is marked "PDTE" for "pre-deployment training equipment," indicating an Army origin, said former Williams technician Chayne Sparagowski, now an emergency services official in Corpus Christi, Texas.
Though some municipal law enforcement agencies have acquired retired MRAPs through the Defense Logistics Agency, Crestview Police Department and Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office officials said the vehicle is not theirs.
"It's not ours," Crestview Police Chief Tony Taylor said. "But I'd sure like to get a look at it."