By Fred W. Baker III
American Forces Press Service
April 29, 2009 - The Marines are working to build an Afghanistan-worthy mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicle. With 8,000 Marines on their way there now, the Marine Corps wants an off-road version of the MRAP that is now fielded, said Marine Corps Commandant James T. Conway at a news conference here today.
While the MRAPs work well to save lives, the bulky, 16-ton vehicle does not work so well where there are not improved roads. In Afghanistan, where there are few improved roads, the vehicles have been known to get bogged down.
Conway said that instead of pursuing a new line of vehicles, he asked engineers to look at modifying a current version of the MRAP with an independent wheel suspension. A prototype has been tested with good results, he said.
Unfortunately, initial modifications to the V-shaped hull reduced the vehicles resistance to roadside bombs, he said.
"It didn't work very well -- didn't work like an MRAP is supposed to," Conway said. "And the dummies inside all died, based on the testing."
A second modification and testing yielded similar results, he said.
The third time was the charm, though, and now the Marines are modifying the remainder of their fleet of MRAPs for Afghanistan use.
"... The long-term use of MRAPs in the Marine Corps is going to be very positive, and we can do it all at a fraction of the cost [of pursuing a new line of vehicles]," Conway said.
The Marine Corps has about 2,200 MRAPs and Conway said the service does not need anymore.