St. Petersburg Times
Special report
Video report
  • For their own good
    Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
  • More video reports
Multimedia report
Print Email this storyEmail story Comment Email editor
Fill out this form to email this article to a friend
Your name Your email
Friend's name Friend's email
Your message
 

Demand grows for strong war trucks

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published March 21, 2007


ADVERTISEMENT

OSHKOSH, Wis. - A new combat truck with a V-shaped bottom designed to withstand blasts from roadside bombs is performing with such success in Iraq that the U.S. military is pressing a Wisconsin company and others to churn out hundreds more in the coming months.

About 200 prototypes of the Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected vehicles have been deployed in Iraq since 2004, said Capt. Jeff Landis of the Marine Corps Systems Command in Quantico, Va. No Marine has died while in one of the trucks, Landis said.

"This is the best vehicle available for safety and survivability," he said. "The MRAP vehicle supplies troops with the greatest protection we've had."

Force Protections Industries in Ladson, S.C., built the 200 prototypes. Within the past month, the Pentagon awarded about $210-million in contracts to Force Protections, Oshkosh Truck Corp., and three other companies in the United States and Canada to manufacture nearly 400 more vehicles. Landis said the military hopes to receive them by the end of the year.

The key is the truck's V-shaped steel body, which flares like the hull of a boat, said Joaquin Salas of Oshkosh Truck.

"The shape channels the full force of a blast up the sides of the vehicle rather than through the floor," Salas said. "It's all physics. Vehicles with that shape are extremely effective."

The Pentagon has been criticized for supplying insufficient armor for Humvees, the standard vehicles used for transport. The military has since fitted thousands of Humvees with additional armor. But most of the surfaces on a Humvee's underside are flat, creating a large area that catches the force of land mine blasts.

The new vehicles have tires that can be driven on even when flat.

Commanders in Iraq originally said the military would need 4,100 mine-resistant vehicles, but they raised their request to 6,738 in mid February after seeing how well the trucks protected occupants, Landis said. Those requests are subject to approval by Congress.

In addition to Force Protections and Oshkosh, the other contractors are Protected Vehicles Inc. of North Charleston, S.C.; BAE Systems in Washington; and General Dynamics Land Systems in Ontario, Canada.

[Last modified March 21, 2007, 01:30:35]


Share your thoughts on this story

[an error occurred while processing this directive]
Subscribe to the Times
Click here for daily delivery
of the St. Petersburg Times.

Email Newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT