The U.S. Defense Department has ordered 2,400 more Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles with V-shaped undercarriages that deflect blasts from roadside bombs better than up-armored Humvees.
Officials have authorized a total of 15,274 MRAPs for all branches of the service, including 10,000 for the U.S. Army, 3,700 for the Marine Corps, 697 for the Air Force, 544 for the Navy and 333 for Special Operations Command.
The Defense Department plans to order about 6,500 more vehicles to meet the total authorization for all of the services in December, but first it needs to request more money from Congress, a senior Defense official said on Thursday.
The official said the Defense Department still hopes to send at least 1,500 MRAPs to the U.S. Central Command theater of operations by the end of 2007.
Since January, about 500 MRAPs have been delivered to the CENTCOM theater of operations, of which all but about 20 are in Iraq, Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters earlier on Thursday.
Not all of the MRAPs delivered to the government were sent downrange because they first have to be equipped with gear such as radios and jammers at the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center (SPAWAR) in Charleston, South Carolina.
It now takes about 22 days to get vehicles through SPAWAR, but some MRAPs can make it through SPAWAR in about seven days, the senior Defense official said.