The Pentagon Releases Orders for more than 1300 Armored Vehicles
The Pentagon has approved the expansion of the MRAP program to over 20,000 vehicles. The US Army plans to increase its fleet of MRAP vehicles from the previously planned 2,300 to 17,700 vehicles. The Marines's allocation will remain at 3,400 and special operations forces will receive about 300 (170 have already been ordered). This plans will virtually phase out the HMMWV from use in combat patrols and high risk missions. Responding to the urgent requirement, the Army plans to have all 17,700 MRAPs in theater by April 2009. To accomodate this plan all suppliers are expanding their production facilities to speed up deliveries, reaching several hundred vehicles per month by the automn of 2007.
The Defense Department’s Joint Requirements Oversight Council (JROC) endorsed procuring as many MRAPs as industry can provide in fiscal 2008. The top-level panel, which validates military requirements, recommended evaluating the situation in Iraq periodically and adjusting the acquisition plan based on the need. "the department is embarking on an aggressive acquisition strategy to put as many of these armored vehicles into the field as fast as possible,” Bryan Whitman, deputy assistant secretary of defense for public affairs said. Defense Department and military services are reaching out to industry to “incentivize” companies to boost production while reducing the production timetable, Whitman said.
Last week the Pentagon released another batch of orders for armored vehicles, as part of the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) and other armored vehicle programmes. The new orders cover additional orders from Force protection and International Engines and Trucks (IET), for 395 Category I (Cougar) vehicles and 76 Category II vehicles (60 from Force Protection and 16 from International). Further orders for 441 RG-33 based MRAP vehicles were awarded to BAE Systems.
Under a parallel program the Army is buying at Textron Systems 369 additional M1117 armored cars. However, with production capacity running short with all US based armored vehicle production facilities, deliveries of the recently awarded orders are to be fulfilled only next year. The US Army is also buying additional 44 RG-31 Mk 5 vehicles from BAE Systems, these vehicles produced by OMG in South Africa and are scheduled for delivery within 4 – 5 months.