More on MRAP-ATV

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We ran another MRAP story this morning at Military.com that Greg Grant over at DoD Buzz previewed a few weeks ago.

The military is pressing its case for MRAP-like vehicles that are able to endure the rigors of the kind of terrain found in Afghanistan. This is a smart move on the part of the Pentagon, which is admitting that the current MRAP is a bank vault on wheels and not suited to austere environments where paved roads and structurally sound bridges are not the norm.

The interesting thing about the story though -- and something I'd like your thoughts on -- is the convergence of the JLTV program, the resulting protest delay and this new urgent need. To what extend is the NorGrum/Boeing/Oshkosh/Textron protest delaying or inhibiting the options for fulfilling this MRAP-ATV request? Seems to me if the players weren't hung up in protest fights over the JLTV demonstration phase, some of them could offer variations of their JLTV ideas in the near term to the Army -- but may instead defer any work on it for fear of disrupting their position in the protest deliberations.

That may be way off, but I'm curious on how that might play into it. Many argue that the tanker protests have disrupted America's ability to wage aerial combat and operations worldwide. I think that's a stretch. But in this case, we KNOW that lives are being lost and that something new needs to be fielded fast or more will die.

One of the potential problems the Army has not adequately addressed is that none of the MRAP vehicles are front-line vehicles, in the sense that they cannot operate in an environment approaching mid- to high-intensity combat. They can and do prove useful in stability and counterinsurgency operations, particularly in urban areas that require troops to conduct lots of presence patrols.

But in an environment where an enemy is equipped with large numbers of man-portable anti-tank weapons, of even the omnipresent low-tech RPG-7 variety, these vehicles are not survivable. They dont have the armor protection and are very big targets. While it makes sense in wartime to build vehicles tailored for specific combat environments, one has to wonder if the service has any kind of long term strategy for all these new heavily armored trucks it keeps buying.

This brings up another good point. MRAPs are good against IEDs but not so good against RPGs (I know why and where the vulnerabilities are, but won't discuss them here). So this new ATV will have to have some of the same armor innovations manufacturers have planned for the JLTV in order to meet the requirement.

It will be interesting to see how this develops and we'll bring you the latest as we get info.

-- Christian

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