Many Americans may have the impression that U.S. ground forces still roll around in cheap, thin, open Jeeps, like the ones from "The Rat Patrol," but the reality is just the opposite: As AvWeek's Michael Fabey writes, today's ground fleet is big, heavy, tall -- and expensive. His story points out that the Pentagon has spent tens of billions of dollars just in the last few years on buying and keeping up the vehicles that have taken such a beating in Iraq and Afghanistan.
While the Pentagon lists tracked combat vehicles, wheeled combat vehicles and trucks as individual line items within the top 10 of the Defense Department expense list for 2010, the three categories together tally up to about $12.8 billion, which would put them at the top of the list -- the same spot their combined total occupied a year ago, according to an Aerospace DAILY analysis of data provided by the National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting.Besides Navistar, Fabey goes on to break down the big industry winners in the ground vehicle game:
Tracked combat, assault and tactical vehicles lead the ground expenses with about $5 billion in contracts and modifications, the analysis shows -- good enough to place fourth in total individual-line Pentagon transactions.
The leading contractor for those expenses is Navistar's International Military and Government LLC -- a major Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected (MRAP) vehicle producer -- with about $1.1 billion for 54 transactions.
Through the latter half of the previous decade, including fiscal 2010, the Pentagon spent about $35 billion for all the MRAP variants, according to a report last year by the Congressional Research Service (CRS).
Since the Defense Department launched its major procurement initiative to replace most of its up-armored high mobility multi-wheeled vehicles (Humvees) in Iraq with MRAPs to protect better against improvised explosive devices in 2007, the Pentagon has kept on schedule to meet its target of 25,700 vehicles, of which 8,100 are the newer MRAP All-Terrain Vehicle (M-ATV) version designed to meet the challenges of Afghanistan's rugged terrain, CRS reports.
• General Dynamics finished second among tracked vehicle expenses with about $989.9 million in transactions, while Stryker-maker GM GDLS Defense Group placed third with about $967.2 million.
• MRAP-producer Oshkosh led the wheeled road warriors with about $1.7 billion in 276 transactions.
• Canadian Commercial Corp. placed second with about $1.1 billion over nine transactions while Textron finished third with about $532.4 million in 53 transactions.
• The leading contractor for all combined three ground categories --wheeled combat, assault and tactical vehicles -- was Oshkosh, with about $4.4 billion in 222 transactions, the analysis shows.
• International Military and Government LLC placed second with about $1.5 billion in contracts and modifications while Canadian Commercial placed third with about $1.2 billion in 20 transactions.