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Industry Working To Give the MRAP New Life

Oct. 21, 2013 - 03:45AM   |  
By PAUL McLEARY   |   Comments
The US Army is keeping about 3,000 Navistar-made MaxxPro MRAPs.
The US Army is keeping about 3,000 Navistar-made MaxxPro MRAPs. ()
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The US Army is keeping about 3,000 of the 9,000 Navistar-made MaxxPro MRAPs it purchased between 2007 and 2011 while it divests thousands more MRAPs for which it no longer has a need.

Since Navistar won the sweepstakes as the main MRAP that US forces will ride into the future, the hulking vehicle, which was built rapidly to provide protection against roadside bombs in Iraq and Afghanistan, is going to need some serious upgrades, however.

Chief among the coming tweaks that Navistar is planning is adding the communications and connectivity capability that the Army is pushing across the force, a capability that allows leaders to access streaming video, text and voice messages from soldiers in the field and intelligence assets overhead.

Given this, the MaxxPro is headed to the White Sands Missile Range, N.M., next spring to participate in the Army’s Network Integration Evaluation exercise, so the service can assess the company’s Mission Command on the Move technologies.

The new technology suite will allow brigade commanders to stay connected to dismounted troops and brigade and battalion headquarters while on the move in austere environments.

The Mission Command MaxxPro seats five passengers and features several workstations that allow soldiers to monitor the information being sent from dismounts, access feeds from UAVs and keep track of where all units in the area are operating.

One of the other big selling points that the company is pushing is the vehicle’s ability to kick out 120 kilowatts of power while sitting at idle, reducing the load of power generators deployed units need to transport on missions.

The power generation capability would also allow commanders to power an entire tactical operations center with one MRAP, allowing the unit to set up a semi-permanent base of operations and be able to access the full suite of communications and intelligence gathering technologies, all without hauling any generators

While it is heading down to White Sands for operational evaluations, the vehicle’s technology suite is only at the start of its test and evaluation process with the Army. After its trip to White Sands next spring for its initial evaluation in an operational environment, it will head back for formal testing next fall, after which the Army will make a decision about how to move forward.

Navistar is also working on signing parts and sustainment contracts with the governments of Iraq and Afghanistan, since it has sold about 9,000 military and commercial vehicles of various makes to each nation in recent years, said Bob Walsh, vice president of Navistar Defense.

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