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The MRAP Cage Fight

by Ward Carroll on July 18, 2007

Defense Tech is keeping its eye on MRAP developments and well report back the take-aways of an upcoming press conference at the Pentagon this morning. But we wanted to pass along a couple things to our readers in the interim.

First, the Pentagon asked Congress yesterday for permission to shift $1.3 billion in 2007 funds to buy MRAP vehicles more quickly. The vehicle programs manager, John Young, and the Army and Marine Corps top MRAP officials, Lt. Gen. Speakes and Brig. Gen. Brogan, will address the shift and program pace at the presser today.
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In other MRAP news, DT received a release from BAE Systems yesterday describing a product theyve developed for the Army and Marine Corps MRAP fleet called the Lightweight RPG Protection Kit, or LROD. Ill leave DT readers to draw their own conclusions on this, but it seems interesting that a vehicle that is supposed to protect troops against powerful roadside bombs needs to wear a cage around it for RPG protection. But then again, so does the Stryker, which is a highly protective vehicle in its own right.

The BAE release follows:

LROD is a lightweight, modular bar-armor system composed of an aluminium alloy that provides protection against RPGs without compromising the operational capabilities of the vehicle. Weighing less than half of comparable steel designs, LROD bolts onto the vehicle without welding or cutting, and can be repaired in the field.

The Army will procure 12 additional LROD kits for delivery this year to operational units in response to an Army Operational Need Statement. The Army has expressed interest in procuring additional kits for the entire RG31 and RG31A1 fleet. The RG31 was developed by BAE Systems in South Africa.

The LROD system provides lightweight, low-cost RPG protection that is easily adapted to virtually any armored vehicle, said Dr. Jim Galambos, director of business development for BAE Systems Advanced Technologies.

LROD was developed in response to increased threats from rocket-propelled grenades in Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. It also is a candidate for use on the DoDs mine-resistant, ambush-protected family of vehicles.

BAE Systems originally developed the system as part of a fast-response Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency program to provide RPG protection for high-mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicles. Army officials conducted more than 50 live-fire tests to validate the performance and optimize the engineering design. The modular design proved effective at preserving the integrity of the vehicle and safety of the crew in those tests.

Based on its success with Army and Marine Corps combat units, BAE Systems is designing LROD kits for other combat vehicles, including the Light Armored Vehicle BV-206 and the Amphibious Assault Vehicle both manufactured by the company. Small boats also could be protected by the LROD system.

LROD is standard equipment on the Army Buffalo explosive ordnance disposal vehicle. BAE Systems has delivered more than 100 LROD kits to the Army, with additional kits slated for the Marine Corps Buffalo vehicles. BAE Systems also is completing LROD designs for the company’s RG33-series mine-protected vehicles.

Stay tuned for further MRAP updates…

– Christian

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