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Marine special operators are still using the militarized version of a lightweight off-roading vehicle that has reportedly caught fire more than 180 times, killing four people and injuring 30.

Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command has not received any manufacturing recalls on the more than 50 Polaris MRZR vehicles Marine Raiders began using in 2014, said Gunnery Sgt. Lynn Kinney, a command spokeswoman.

The New York Times reported last week on the 10 recalls Polaris Industries had issued for fire hazards on its RZR vehicles between 2013 and 2018. There are dozens of social media posts showing the vehicles burning, the paper reported, and the accidents have led to a host of lawsuits, including wrongful death and personal injury claims.

Kinney said MARSOC takes the safety and security of Raiders seriously at all times.

The command is still using its MRZRs for training and overseas missions, she said, along with some commercial Polaris vehicles MARSOC has in its inventory. They haven't had problems with any of the vehicles, she added.

Officials with Polaris Government and Defense, which designs the MRZR version of the vehicle Marines use, did not immediately respond to questions about whether that model has experienced any fire safety issues.

U.S. Marines from Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion 5th Marines prepare to begin a patrol in the Polaris MRZR all-terrain vehicle.
(U.S. Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Julien Rodarte)

Marine Corps photo

Company officials told The New York Times that the safety of its riders has “always been our top priority” and that allegations and claims against Polaris are “misleading, lack full context and, at times, are simply inaccurate.”

The gas- and diesel-powered vehicles come in four models that can carry between 1,000 and 1,500 pounds. The unarmored vehicles can fit either four or six people, depending on the model, and can fit into an MV-22B Osprey aircraft.

MARSOC had its first MRZR death earlier this year when Staff Sgt. Joshua Braica was killed in a rollover accident. Two others were injured in the crash, which remains under investigation.

There were no reports of fire being involved in that mishap.

Kinney said MARSOC has extensive training and licensing requirements to “ensure maintainers and operators follow the provided technical manual, which include manufacturer warnings regarding safe vehicle operation.”

“The operator's manual has fire safety warnings for exhaust systems and refueling operations, and each vehicle is equipped with a fire extinguisher,” she added.

Marines recently used a weapon system that includes an MRZR to take out an Iranian drone from aboard the amphibious assault ship Boxer, as first reported by Marines attach an anti-drone system called LMADIS — or the Light Marine Air Defense Integrated System — to tactical vehicles, including the MRZR, to scan the skies for enemy aircraft.

The system has been used on ships' flight decks and on land.

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