Mine-Resistant Vehicles To Get Sides Fortified

Mine-Resistant Vehicles To Get Sides Fortified
May 10th, 2008  
Team Infidel

Topic: Mine-Resistant Vehicles To Get Sides Fortified

Mine-Resistant Vehicles To Get Sides Fortified
San Diego Union-Tribune
May 10, 2008 By Lolita C. Baldor and Chelsea Carter, Associated Press
WASHINGTON – The U.S. military is reinforcing the sides of its top-line mine-resistant vehicles to shore up what could be weak points as troops see a spike in armor-piercing roadside bombings across Iraq, officials say.
The surge in attacks is putting the mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles, or MRAPs, to the test, and they are largely passing.
Statistics show that while bombings involving the deadly penetrating explosives have jumped by about 40 percent in the past three months, deaths in such bombings have dropped by as much as 17 percent.
Officials attribute much of the decline in deaths to the increased use of MRAPs.
Eight service members have died in incidents that involved the new bomb-resistant vehicles, and several of those deaths occurred in rollovers rather than from explosives penetrating the armor.
In what may be the only instance in which explosives penetrated the MRAP, two soldiers were killed last week when the MRAP they were riding in was hit by what appeared to be one of the highly lethal explosively formed penetrators, called EFPs.
Army spokesman Paul Boyce said commanders are increasing safety training to help troops better learn how to handle the heavy, ungainly vehicles.
“We're emphasizing the limitations of the vehicle's handling and the importance of understanding the lessons learned after some close calls,” said Boyce, adding that the training also focuses on how to get out in an emergency.
At Camp Arifjahn in Kuwait, the military is reinforcing some MRAPs with additional side armor. It shipped as many as 20 of the newly upgraded vehicles to the battlefront in April. An additional 30 are to go into Iraq beginning this month.
Navy Lt. Cmdr. James Hadley, who is overseeing the upgrades in Kuwait, said not every MRAP is getting the additional armor, which increases the vehicle's weight by as much as 5,000 pounds. The extra protection, he said, is being added to vehicles destined for hot battleground areas.
Roadside bombs have long been a primary killer of troops in Iraq, and in May 2007 Defense Secretary Robert Gates declared that the speedy purchase of MRAPs was the Pentagon's top acquisition priority. The vehicles have a V-shaped hull and sit about 36 inches off the ground, so when a bomb explodes the blast is directed out and away from the troops riding inside.
Congress has provided more than $22 billion for at least 15,000 of the vehicles the Defense Department plans to acquire, mostly for the Army. The Marine Corps, citing reduced violence in Iraq and the awkward size of the vehicles, has already announced it wants only 2,300 – 1,400 fewer than initially planned.
The vehicles cost between $500,000 and $1 million each, depending on their size and how they are equipped.
Army Lt. Gen. Stephen Speakes said Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, commander of the 3rd Infantry Division, told him that using the MRAPs has saved the lives of about 40 of his soldiers. Lynch's troops control a large region south of Baghdad.

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