CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. -- A ceremony celebrating the successful production of the latest version of the RG31, a mine-resistant ambush protected route clearance vehicle, was held on July 19 at Letterkenny Army Depot.
The rollout ceremony featured the latest variant of the RG31's configuration. Among the improvements were an engine upgrade from 275 to 300 horsepower; a transmission upgrade from 2500 to a 3000 series; an independent suspension for improved mobility; 360-degree spotlights for night visibility; and an armored gunner's hatch.
The event was hosted by Letterkenny Army Depot commander Col. Deacon Maddox and Col. Jason Craft, project manager for the Army Project Office, Assured Mobility Systems, MRAP Vehicles.
"When most people think of Letterkenny, they think of missiles," Maddox said. "What many people do not know about Letterkenny is that approximately one third of the depot's work is the route clearance vehicle, which includes the RG31..."
After congratulating the depot's workforce and reminding them of the important role they play in supporting the Soldier in the field, Maddox shared the contents of an email he had received from a father of a Soldier who recently survived a blast from an improvised explosive device.
The blast had destroyed the MRAP that the Soldier and his fire team were in, but every occupant had walked away unharmed except for one Soldier who suffered a broken nose. The Soldier's father asked in the email, "What would have happened had my son not been in an MRAP?"
"Fortunately, such a question need not be answered because Letterkenny Army Depot is one of the depots helping to provide the best equipment possible for Soldiers," Craft said. "This community, this city, and this state have done their part to ensure the Soldier receives that equipment."
James Rowan, deputy commandant, Engineer Regiment, Maneuver Support Center of Excellence, Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, represented the customer at the ceremony and accepted the newest variant of the RG31 from the Letterkenny Army Depot's RG31 portfolio team.
Before accepting the vehicle, Rowan said, "The Army and the nation made a major investment in the MRAP fleet of vehicles. This vehicle -- the medium mine protected vehicle that is built on the RG31 MRAP platform -- has already saved untold lives and will continue to do so in the future."
Rowan quoted comments made by then Secretary of Defense Robert Gates in July, 2008, "There is no failsafe measure that can prevent all loss of life and limb on this or any other battlefield. That is the brutal reality of war. But vehicles like MRAP, combined with the right tactics, techniques and procedures provide the best protection available against these attacks."
Rowan asked the assembled group of the depot's workforce, invited guests, senior military leaders, and local community and political representatives to remember the critical importance of the work they do, and that the end-user and ultimate customer is the Soldier who values and appreciates it.
The depot is scheduled to produce a total of 929 of the RG31s with a production end date of 2020.