Fewer high-tech aircraft; more heavy trucks that can resist the impact of roadside bombs. That's the latest defense procurement plan coming from the White House, which has belatedly decided to invest heavily in a new class of armored vehicles that are optimized for survivability in Iraq-style combat zones. In defense-speak, the new vehicles are called "Mine Resistant, Ambush Protected" vehicles, or MRAPs. Globalsecurity summarizes the problem that MRAPs are intended to solve:
The current ground tactical vehicle fleet does not have the survivability needed to support and sustain operations on the modern battlefield. While the US has superior intelligence collection, training, and tactical skill, the enemy continued to exploit the vulnerability of Marines in the current vehicle fleet. The most likely threat the Ground Tactical Vehicle Fleet (GTVF) will encounter under ship to objective maneuver (STOM) scenario is a combination of mines and small arms employed by unconventional forces operating in a non-contiguous battlespace. The legacy GTVF was not designed to withstand this threat. The GTVF was designed to support the Cold War linear battlefield.
The Marine Corps must develop a Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) combat vehicle fleet capable of sustained operations in a chaotic, mine-infested, non-linear battlespace. Marines can no longer disregard survivability in favor of reliance on the ability to predict and neutralize threats.
In other words, the Rumsfeld Doctrine, which emphasized "lightweight" information dominance over "heavy" armored protection, was designed to fight an entirely different kind of war -- and thus failed miserably in Iraq. Now, citing a report from InsideDefense, Reuters reports:
[The White House hopes to] remove $388 million for five Lockheed C-130J transport planes; $146 million for one CV-22 tilt-rotor aircraft built by Boeing Co. and Bell Helicopter, a unit of Textron Inc.; and $389 million for Lockheed F-35s.
Instead, it would spend an additional $1.5 billion on armor kits and transport vehicles, including $500 million for Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles, the newest generation of tactical vehicles designed to protect troops against mines and roadside bombs.
(Image above, the BAE Systems RG-33L 6x6 MRAP. The Pentagon just ordered 75 of these. Photo by BAE.)