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.
In early July 2007 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. Two weeks later (July 13), Stewart & Stevenson Tactical Vehicle Systems, a subsidiary of BAE Systems’ Armor Holdings Inc. received another order for 1170 MRAP vehicles under a second order worth over half a billion US$ ($518 million). Under this contract the company will supply 1,154 4×4 Category I vehicles and 16 Category II (6×6) vehicles to be delivered by February 2008.
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.
Most of the recent orders issued by the US Navy, on behalf of US Marine Corps Systems Command address Category I (4×4) troop carriers, destined to replace as many up-armored HMMWVs in theater. Other vehicles were ordered by the US Army.
The USMC, managing the MRAP program, awarded Force Protection Industries a fourth production order for 395 Category I and 60 Category II Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles, worth $221 million. The vehicles are expected to be delivered within 18 months. This order is equally split between Force Protection and General Dynamics Land Systems, based on the Force Dynamics cooperation agreement. International Military and Government LLC (IMG) received a third delivery order worth $8 million for additional 16 Category II (CAT II) MRAP vehicles, to be delivered by February 2008. The previous order awarded to International covered about 1,000 Category I vehicles.
The RG-33 order includes 425 4×4 (Category I) vehicles,of which 170 will be configured for the US Special Operations Command, with the remaining 16 Catgory II (6×6) configured as ambulances. BAE Systems will deliver vehicles based on the RG-33 design, offering improved survivability and large armor protected volume. The RG33L MRAP ambulance accommodates several litter and ambulatory patients via a novel litter lift system. The vehicle also provides space for a medic work station and key medical equipment.
The U.S. Army ordered RG-31 Mk5 and M1117 ASV to fulfil other missions, as part of ongoing orders running in parralel to the MRAP program.
The Army ordered 44 RG-31 Mk5 Mine Protected Vehicles. The $20 million covers the delivery of 44 vehicles, to be delivered within 4-5 months. U.S. forces have previously ordered or received 448 RG-31 vehicles, including 265 Mk5s for the U.S. Army and Special Operations Command (SOCOM), and 24 Mk5s for the U.S. Marine Corps under the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle program.
Under a separate contract the Army also added a procurement order for 369 M1117 armored security vehicles (ASV) under a contract worth $255.5 million awarded to Textron Marine & Land, to deliver. The framework order was awarder in 2006. With this award, the total number of ASVs produced or under contract is now at 1729 vehicles, of which some 950 vehicles were built to date. Production and deliveries of the ASV are continuing at Textron Marine & Land with firm contracts through at least October 2008.
The ASV is used by the United States Army for its military police, convoy protection and Field Artillery Combat Observation and Lasing Teams (COLT). Its record of performance, reliability and survivability in the field is impeccable. More than 750 ASVs have been deployed in the Global War on Terrorism in support of combat missions.