Year-end MRAP delivery to be 1,500, not 3,900
Army Times
By William H. McMichael - Staff writer
August 23, 2007

Defense officials say fewer than half of the new blast-resistant vehicles being built this year to give troops better protection from roadside bombs will be delivered to Iraq by year's end.

At least 1,500 will be in Iraq by Dec. 31, according to Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell. But the figure is less than half of the 3,900 an official previously said would be delivered.

The Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle is Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates' top program priority. During a July 18 press conference at the Pentagon, John Young, chairman of DoD's MRAP Task Force, had said — "ambitiously," according to Morrell — that 3,500 to 3,900 would be delivered to Iraq in that time.

Morrell corrected that Wednesday, saying 1,500 MRAPs will be delivered to Iraq by the end of the year, adding, "We could very well end up getting more than that in theater."

Young still believes 3,900 MRAPs will be produced by Dec. 31, Morrell said.

Morrell also denied that delivery is being held up by production issues, as claimed in a recent published report.

"It's not accurate," Morrell said.

The delay, he said, will be due to the amount of time — 50 days — it takes to outfit the vehicles and get most of them to the war theater. That means few of the MRAPs produced during the last two months of the year, when production by DoD's five vendors is expected to climb considerably, will be completely outfitted and delivered by Dec. 31.

Some MRAPs are being flown but most will be carried by ship, and that's a 35-day process, Morrell said. It also takes 15 days to equip the vehicles with military-specific equipment, such as radios and signal jammers. That's half as long as it formerly took, and the Pentagon hopes to trim more time off both efforts, he said.

The MRAP is seen as the best defense for U.S. troops threatened by roadside bombs planted by insurgents in Iraq. It comes in three basic variants, all of which feature a V-shaped hull designed to deflect bomb blasts and better protect the troops inside. Roadside bombs have been the No. 1 killers of U.S. troops in Iraq.

Congress has appropriated $3.8 billion for MRAP production this fiscal year, and Gates has asked for permission to reprogram another $1.2 billion for the effort. He's also pressed for more rapid production and delivery of the vehicles.

Original Text