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Pentagon may buy shorter, lighter MRAPs

Jul. 17, 2008 - 05:48PM   |   Last Updated: Jul. 17, 2008 - 05:48PM  |  
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Some of the Pentagon's final batch of Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles could be several tons lighter and one or two feet shorter in length, an effort to reduce deadly rollovers and increase mobility, a senior Pentagon official said.

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Some of the Pentagon's final batch of Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles could be several tons lighter and one or two feet shorter in length, an effort to reduce deadly rollovers and increase mobility, a senior Pentagon official said.

"We will study engineering change proposals over the next four to six weeks, looking to improve mobility requirements and develop a better turn radius for the MRAPs," the official said.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates responded favorably when presented with the plan on July 9 by defense acquisition undersecretary John Young, the official said.

The idea is to increase stability while preserving the vehicles' survivability — their V-shaped hull, ground clearance and armor, the official said.

Today's fully loaded MRAPs are about 12 to 14 feet long and weigh from 15 to 22 tons, depending upon armor options.

"The roads are caving in. If we could have all the survivability that an MRAP gives you at a lighter weight, the roads would not cave in. We want it to weigh less than it weighs now," the official said.

DoD plans to buy roughly 1,600 MRAPs by the end of the year, completing the planned purchase of up to 15,000 MRAPs, said Pentagon spokeswoman Cheryl Irwin. These will include standard MRAPs, plussed-up MRAPs with extra armor, and the new shorter, lighter MRAP, the official said.

On July 17, the Pentagon announced the first part of the 1,600: 773 General Dynamics Canada RG 31 MRAPs for $552 million. Buyers chose the RG 31, slated to go to Afghanistan, because it was smaller than other entries, the official said.

The Army also placed a $60 million order for 36 BAE Systems RG 33 MRAPs to replace other vehicles for U.S. Special Operations Command.

The Pentagon will not purchase the 30-ton MRAP II vehicles, despite spending more than $25 million over a year to develop them, because of mobility and safety concerns, he said.

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