The Latest Specialized Vehicles and Equipment of the U.S. Military

By | October 31, 2008

In order to adequately equip troops for the conditions and combat scenarios in Afghanistan and Iraq, the U.S. military demands a massive amount of resources, including state-of-the-art equipment and vehicles. The production of much of this specialized technology equipment is outsourced to various U.S. corporations specializing in weapons and equipment, such as General Dynamics Corp. in Virginia and Force Protection Inc. in South Carolina.

Many of these suppliers are currently engaged in the production of an evolving series of armored fighting vehicles designed to withstand IEDs and roadside ambushes. These technologically advanced vehicles are largely replacing the Humvee and other light trucks in supporting combat operations.

Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicles (MRAPs)

There was a military requirement for a new and improved Mine-Resistant, Ambush-Protected Vehicle, also known as an MRAP. The previous model of the vehicle, which transitioned from design to deployment in just two years, was not designed to manage the rocky terrain of Afghanistan, and its excessive weight posed challenges for transportation to areas where it was most needed.

The MRAPs are integral to current U.S. military campaigns and are crucial in protecting troops from roadside blasts, which are the leading cause of combat-related death and injury in Iraq. Over 8,000 MRAPs are currently operational in Iraq and 900 in Afghanistan. Recently, the Pentagon announced financial plans to expand their fleet of MRAP vehicles from 2,300 to 17,700 by Spring 2009.

MRAP Light

The U.S. Marine Corps has issued an urgent call for an MRAP light, a vehicle that would provide the same protection as the MRAP, but with enhanced maneuverability. General Dynamics and Force Protection, Inc. are both collaborating with the Marine Corps to determine whether the existing MRAPs should be modified to better meet military needs, or whether an entirely new vehicle is necessary. Both companies are working swiftly on the project.

On September 5, Force Protection, Inc. announced the receipt of a $7.2 million contract from the Marine Corps for the expedited development of lighter MRAP vehicles.

BAE Systems, a British company with a manufacturing facility in Fairfield, Ohio, launched its new, lighter MRAP- the Caiman Light at the start of this month. The Caiman Light is a five-person, 4X 4 version of the 6X6 Caiman MRAP Vehicle, offering comparable protection at two-thirds of the 18-ton gross vehicle weight of the original model.

Several other arms and defense companies are competing for a share of the financial investment, as the military demands both the protection of the MRAP and the maneuverability of its smaller counterparts. Keep an eye on this space for further updates.


Defense Update, UPI