By Kris OsbornMarch 16, 2010
The first of thousands of Mine Resistant Ambush Protected -- All Terrain Vehicles (M-ATV) slated to go to Afghanistan are performing well in combat by driving off-road through rigorous terrain and protecting soldiers from roadside bomb attacks, Army and Pentagon officials said.
"The initial feedback we are getting is very positive. It is a much lighter vehicle and it can go places the other MRAPs couldn't go previously. Troops like the power and the size, where it can go and what it can do for them. The vehicles are already saving lives," said David Hansen, Principal Deputy Program Manager for the Joint MRAP vehicle program. "Also, troops have said they love the visibility in the vehicle."
The M-ATVs -- designed as a lighter weight, more mobile MRAP specifically for Afghanistan -- are already starting to have an impact on the Army and Marine Corps tactical wheeled vehicles' strategies.
"All the services have to incorporate the M-ATV into their tactical wheeled vehicle strategies. Just like with MRAP where the services needed to get some time with the vehicle, they will see how it [M-ATV] performs overall and then see how it fits into their tactical wheeled vehicle strategies for the future," said Hansen.
Overall, the Army will receive roughly 6,000 M-ATVs, a number which could increase based on service requirements, Hansen said. In addition, roughly one-half of the Army's M-ATVs are being configured with remote weapons stations which allow soldiers to man guns from a protected position inside the vehicle, Hansen said.
The M-ATV's 65 mph speed is already making a difference in combat as well.
"We just got a report back from a Lieutenant Colonel in the 82nd Airborne Division who said that a trip that normally took him four hours in an MRAP only took him two hours in an M-ATV. It is almost half the time on the road. That was two hours that he was not exposed to enemy fire and IEDs," said Ken Juergens, Vice President and General Manager, Joint Programs, Oshkosh Defense.