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by DAVID AXE
Two years ago, Wisconsin truck-maker Oshkosh washed out of the multi-billion-dollar program to build blast-resistant trucks (aka, Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected, or “MRAP” vehicles) for U.S. forces in Iraq. Oshkosh had teamed with Euro firm Thales, to propose the Bushmaster truck, which is used by the Dutch and Aussies, in Afghanistan.
Turns out Oshkosh’s efforts were not wasted. Today the company snagged a billion-dollar, 2,000-vehicle deal to build smaller, lighter, “baby” MRAPs, specifically for Afghanistan. But they won’t be Bushmaster variants. Rather, Oshkosh is adding a new hull to their veteran cargo-truck chassis.
In 2007, industry officials told me that wheeled, armored, counter-insurgency trucks would increasingly form the core of Western armies’ vehicle fleets. With the cancellation of the U.S. Army’s Future Combat Systems tracked vehicles, and the steady proliferation of Strykers and MRAPs, that’s exactly what’s happening. Where before, tracked vehicles were the main equipment and wheeled vehicles played a peripheral combat role, today that’s reversed.