Armored Vehicle Supply Better After Early Delays

January 20th, 2008  
Team Infidel

Topic: Armored Vehicle Supply Better After Early Delays

New York Times
January 19, 2008
Pg. 8
By Thom Shanker
CHARLESTON, S.C. — The Defense Department has now delivered more than 1,500 heavily armored ground transport vehicles to Iraq and Afghanistan in an accelerated program to protect American troops from improvised explosives, senior Pentagon officials said Friday.
Production problems initially plagued the effort to speed the mine-resistant vehicles to Iraq and Afghanistan under a program begun last May. Pentagon officials and members of Congress have complained about the delay and about the time it has taken to equip the vehicles with specialized radios and advanced jamming transmitters, ship them to combat zones and train soldiers on how to operate them.
But Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, who flew here on Friday to inspect the factory that completes the armored troop transports, said he had been told that early glitches in acquiring enough of the vehicles had been resolved.
As workers at the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center in Charleston installed sensitive tracking systems, satellite communications equipment and bomb-jamming antennas into the armored vehicles, Mr. Gates described them as “a proven lifesaver on the battlefield.”
The effort to buy what are officially known as Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected vehicles is the largest current one-year acquisition program in the Department of Defense, with $22.4 billion set aside for a fleet of more than 15,000 vehicles.
While it initially took 30 days to outfit each vehicle with specialized equipment once it had been manufactured, Mr. Gates was told, that time has been reduced to 7 days in most cases. About 50 vehicles per day now leave the factory here with all of their required equipment.
Mr. Gates cited Army reports that there had been 12 attacks on the heavily armored vehicles with improvised bombs since the new push began to send more of them into combat zones, mostly to Iraq. Mr. Gates said all of the soldiers in the vehicles during those attacks walked away afterward.
“The need for these vehicles will not soon go away,” he said.
John J. Young Jr., the under secretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, said that civilian contractors and the military built 1,187 of the vehicles in December, finishing the month just eight short of the production target.
The basic armored vehicle costs about $500,000, but adding antennas, radios, jammers and other specialized equipment can double that amount.
The new vehicles tower over Humvees, the military’s standard troop transport vehicles, and their undercarriages are far higher off the ground. In addition to carrying more armor, they are designed with a V-shaped hull to deflect blasts away from the troops inside. Even armored Humvees have proven far more vulnerable to roadside bombs than the new vehicles.
Mr. Gates acknowledged that the Pentagon would continue to assess how to deploy its fleet of tanks, other armored vehicles and Humvees to assure the proper mix and the best tactics to protect the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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