Land mines and roadside explosives pose one of the biggest threats to the health and safety of U.S. troops in Iraq, a threat never meant to be defended against by their everyday vehicle, the Humvee (even when "uparmored"). The Pentagon has slowly been fielding small numbers of more heavily armored MRAP (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected) vehicles--and now it's shifting into high gear.
This week, Defense Department officials urged Congress to increase funding for MRAP efforts by $1.2 billion, taken from other defense programs. Those additional funds would bring the MRAP budget for fiscal 2007 to $5.4 billion, which would increase the total order for the vehicles to 6,415, to be delivered by March 2008. That's up from less than 4,000 ordered through June. The increase would also make the MRAP program the third largest for the fiscal year, behind missile defense and the Joint Strike Fighter aircraft.
A chief manufacturer of MRAP vehicles is a South Carolina company called Force Protection. This picture shows a six-wheeled version of its Cougar during a test explosion at the Aberdeen Test Center in Maryland.
Caption text by Jonathan Skillings, staff writer, CNET News.com
July 20, 2007 3:33 PM PDT
Photo by: Aberdeen Test Center
| Caption by: Jonathan Skillings
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