Early Christmas gift: US Army off-road vehicle built for Afghanistan
The first of 5,000 new off-road US Army vehicles arrived in Afghanistan this week. Custom made for the mountainous terrain, the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected All Terrain Vehicle is lighter, and considered safer, than Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) used in Iraq.
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Moreover, it’s not safe to assume that insurgents who’ve devised ways to destroy the heavier MRAP won’t in time also figure out how to disable or destroy the smaller M-ATV.Skip to next paragraph
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Nevertheless, the military’s efforts to counter roadside bombs undoubtedly have come a long way since 2003, when US troops invaded Iraq with paper-thin Humvees.
Chief Warrant Officer 3 Thomas Shedd, a Georgia guardsmen from Macon, in calculating the $400,000 life insurance policy the Army provides for all of its deploying soldiers, rationalized the cost of the M-ATV this way: “If four soldiers walk out of that vehicle, you just bought two” M-ATVs.
For soldiers, the M-ATV offers other huge advantages over the MRAP, starting with its ride over rutted roads.
The Wisconsin-based Oshkosh Corp., which makes the M-ATVs, built in an independent suspension system, unlike the MRAP’s solid front axle, which links both wheels. If the M-ATV’s right front tire hits a rock, for example, it responds independently of the left tire. The rock might trip one wheel, but it won’t turn the entire axle one way or the other.
The M-ATV “keeps you from beating the hell out of your soldiers,” said 1st Lt. Chris Stewart of Alma, Ga. “A 12-hour drive in an MRAP beats your soldiers to death.”
The excitement among the Georgia National Guardsmen about their new vehicles, which were lined up at Bagram Air Base when the guardsmen arrived Sunday in a convoy, probably was born out of frustration with the MRAP.
The M-ATV’s dashboard is user-friendly, and radio signals come in as clearly as a telephone conversation does.
(Thomas Day reports for The Telegraph in Macon, Ga.)