Tackling the Terrain
Afghanistan poses design challenge for lighter, more
nimble mine-protected vehicle for Marines and Soldiers
By ROXANA TIRON, Special Correspondent
“If you have a vehicle that goes
off the road, then the enemy won’t
have all the information,” he said.
But to be able to drive with
some agility off-road, the new
vehicle design has to strike the
right balance: be light enough to
traverse rocky mountain paths and
dirt roads, but sturdy enough to
shield the crew from explosives.
The Army and Marine Corps
are working together to satisfy an
urgent requirement that came
from military commanders in
Afghanistan. The services issued
the request for proposals to industry at the end of last year and are
expected to pick several designs in
April, and select the winning vehicle by June.
The contract is an attractive one
for the competing defense companies. The winner is guaranteed to build thousands of
vehicles that are desperately needed. So far, in the
request for proposals, the Army and Marine Corps said
that they are looking at initially buying at least 2,080
vehicles, but could increase that to as many as 10,000.
There is no breakdown of how many vehicles the
Marines will receive because it was a joint requirement
from the theater of operations, said Hansen. It also will
depend on the troop concentration at the time the vehicles are ready to be shipped to Afghanistan, he added.
BAE Systems, General Dynamics Land Systems Inc.,
Navistar Defense, Oshkosh Defense and Force
Dynamics LLC, which is a joint venture of Force
Protection Inc. and General Dynamics Land Systems,
are competing for the lucrative deal. The pricing for
the M-ATV is not available, but a regular MRAP sells
for about $500,000 apiece, with price depending on
Five designs are vying for a potentially lucrative contract to supply Marines and Soldiers in Afghanistan with at least 2,080 Mine
Resistant Ambush Protected All-Terrain Vehicles (M-ATVs).
■ BAE Systems is offering a redesigned version of its Caiman
Light Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle.
■ Force Dynamics, a joint venture of Force Protection Inc. and
General Dynamics Land Systems, is competing with Force
■ General Dynamics Land Systems also is making a solo bid with
the RG- 31, which is based on a South African design.
■ Navistar Defense will compete with a tweaked version of its
■ The Oshkosh M-ATV features its battle-tested independent
With thousands of Marines and Soldiers
deploying to Afghanistan, the race is on to
equip them with a new all-terrain armored
vehicle that will allow them to navigate harsh, unde-veloped terrain with bomb-blast protection.
The new Mine Resistant Ambush Protected All-Terrain Vehicles, or M-ATVs, could become a crucial
new asset to the Marines deploying to Southern
Afghanistan — the heart of the Taliban-led insurgency
that increasingly uses roadside bombs in its campaign
against the Afghan and foreign militaries.
With a dearth of developed roads, it becomes imperative for the U.S. military to be able to transport its forces
on alternate routes instead of one main thoroughfare,
where the comings and goings become a predictable
activity for the enemy to monitor, said David Hansen, the
Marine Corps deputy program manager for the joint Mine
Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle program.