(MILITARY TIMES) The first of thousands of mine-resistant all-terrain vehicles are ready for combat and will be deployed to Afghanistan next month, Pentagon officials said.
The first of thousands of mine-resistant all-terrain vehicles are ready for combat and will be deployed to Afghanistan in October, Pentagon officials said.
The Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected All-Terrain Vehicle, or M-ATV, will be fielded to all services and U.S. Special Operations Command, with the first seven vehicles delivered to an Army unit, said Cheryl Irwin, a spokeswoman for the MRAP Joint Program Office at the Pentagon. Operational commanders will determine when and where the first units will receive the vehicle.
“We have pulled out all the stops to collapse the schedule and get these vehicles into theater,” Marine Brig. Gen. Michael Brogan, the joint program executive officer for the MRAP program, said in a news release. “We are doing everything that’s required to ensure that they are safe, that the risk assessments are complete, that they’re fully integrated and flown into Afghanistan.”
The vehicles have a blast-resistant V-shaped hull and are designed to provide MRAP-level protection for troops while offering more mobility than existing MRAPs, which can weigh between 32,000 and 45,000 pounds when empty. The new vehicles are smaller and weigh less than 25,000 pounds, making them more useful in Afghanistan’s uneven, rural terrain.
The initial MRAP deliveries will be made about three months after Army Tank-Automotive and Armament Command signed a $1.05 billion contract with Wisconsin-based Oshkosh Defense to supply 2,244 vehicles. Since then, the requirement for M-ATVs has tripled to 6,644 vehicles, and contracts have been awarded for 4,321, with additional buys expected soon, Irwin said.
Pentagon officials have not yet decided how all 6,644 vehicles will be distributed to the services, Irwin said.
On June 2, the Joint Requirements Oversight Council — an advisory board to the Joint Chiefs headed by Marine Gen. James Cartwright — approved a plan that called for the Army to receive 2,598 vehicles, with the Marine Corps getting 1,565, SOCom receiving 643, the Air Force getting 280 and the Navy receiving 65. An additional 93 vehicles would be set aside for testing.
That plan has not yet been updated to reflect the Pentagon’s new requirement for 6,644 M-ATVs.