The new troops headed to Afghanistan are important, sure. But unless those troops can get around the country without getting blown up, this latest surge is going nowhere fast. Which is why the Pentagon is in the middle of a crash program to build and ship to Afghanistan a new generation of bomb-resistant off-road vehicle, equipped with everything from composite armor to “electronic keels”. If all goes to plan, they should have around 1,000 of the high-tech rides in the country by the end of the year.
Right after the start of the original surge in Iraq, the Pentagon launched a breakneck effort to send thousands and thousands of hulking Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles to that warzone. The vehicles were credited with saving countless lives. But the rides are too bulky for Afghanistan’s rough terrain and primitive roadways. The suspensions took a beating, and the top-heavy MRAPs were prone to rollover. The Pentagon launched a quickfire challenge for a lighter, more nimble blastproof ride, dubbed the MRAP All Terrain Vehicle (clunky acronym: M-ATV).
Oshkosh Corp. won the contest, and snared the first delivery order in late June. The winning design was a 4×4 built around the chassis of the Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacement, a seven-ton truck that had already seen service in Afghanistan.
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