Army Seeks $20B For MRAPs, But Quick Fielding Has Hurdles

Army Seeks B For MRAPs, But Quick Fielding Has Hurdles
May 18th, 2007  
Team Infidel

Topic: Army Seeks $20B For MRAPs, But Quick Fielding Has Hurdles

Army Seeks B For MRAPs, But Quick Fielding Has Hurdles
USA Today
May 18, 2007
Pg. 10

By Tom Vanden Brook
WASHINGTON The Army has asked Defense Secretary Robert Gates to approve spending almost $20 billion for new armored vehicles, a week after Gates called deploying the vehicles the military's top hardware priority.
Acting Army Secretary Pete Geren asked Gates for as many as 17,770 Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles (MRAPs), according to a memo dated May 15 and obtained by USA TODAY. The vehicles would be shipped to Iraq after production, reaching the goal in July 2009, according to Geren's memo.
Combined with orders by other services, the total cost of the new vehicles through July 2009 will be almost $25 billion, Pentagon records show. The Marines and Navy want 3,500 MRAPs, while the Air Force and special operations units are seeking another 1,000.
However, there may not be enough material and production capacity to field the MRAPs quickly, according to the memo and Pentagon officials.
No single company can provide more than 1,200 of the vehicles per month, which is the Marines' production goal, said Chris Isleib, a Pentagon spokesman.
Adequate supplies of steel for armor and rubber for tires are also concerns, Isleib said.
Loren Thompson, a military analyst at the Lexington Institute, criticized the Pentagon for moving too slowly on the MRAP program.
"By the time we field all the vehicles we could be on our way out of Iraq," Thompson said.
Thompson said MRAPs may be needed elsewhere.
"Sadly, this vehicle will probably find plenty of uses in other places," Thompson said. "We've shown the world how to fight our army to a standstill."
The Army's rush to buy more MRAPs could affect how many other armored vehicles it buys now and in the future, according to the memo. The Army has sent officials to Iraq to determine how MRAPs will fit in with its existing fleet of armored vehicles, including tanks and armored personnel carriers.
The Army planned to spend about $5.5 billion this year on its three main armored vehicles the Abrams tank and Bradley and Stryker armored personnel carriers Army budget documents show.
Gates and other Pentagon leaders like the MRAP because its raised chassis and V-shaped hull help protect troops from roadside bombs, which are also called improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Roadside bombs cause 70% of U.S. casualties in Iraq.
Gates told all services on May 2 to determine how many MRAPs they need. The Army, until the May 15 memo, had sought 2,500 MRAPs. Senior Army officials said commanders in the field valued the maneuverability of the Humvee, the military's longtime workhorse vehicle, saying the MRAPs were often too large and unwieldy.
The number of MRAPs in Geren's memo matches the number of armored Humvees the Army operates in Iraq. The Marine Corps has already announced its intent to replace all its Humvees with MRAPs, saying the new armored vehicles are as much as four times safer.
Eight companies are competing for the contracts to build the vehicles, said Capt. Jeff Landis, a Marine Corps spokesman. The Marines are leading the Pentagon's development of the MRAPs, which are now being tested at the Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland.
Testing should be done by early June, said Brig. Gen. Charles Anderson, the Army's director of force development. "It's round the clock," Anderson said of the testing. "It shows the sense of urgency."
Better protection
The Pentagon is looking at three types of Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles:
Category 1: Passengers -- 6; Weight -- 14,000 pounds; Wheels -- 4
Category 2: Passengers -- 10; Weight -- 38,000 pounds (6-wheel version); Wheels -- up to 6
Category 3: Passengers -- 12; Weight -- 45,000 pounds; Wheels -- 6
Sources: U.S. Army. Photos from Force Protection Industries, Inc.

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