MRAP

An unmanned TerraMax mine-clearing vehicle, followed by equally unmanned TerraMax cargo trucks.

The future of military robotics may not look much like a robot. It may just be a truck that drives itself. That’s the simple, pragmatic approach pursued by Oshkosh — a company better known for trucks than Terminators — with its TerraMax Unmanned Ground Vehicle. But after eight years of experiments for three different military… Keep reading →

Iraqi Freedom

Massive government documents typically hide some gold nuggets of information. In today’s report from the Pentagon’s independent Director of Operational Test & Evaluation, a famously tough grader known as DOT&E, there’s one detail that is going to make defense contractor BAE Systems very happy: “Results from the third underbody blast test also demonstrate that the… Keep reading →

The bomb exploded like a dusty thunderclap directly underneath the front left tire of the U.S. Army MaxxPro truck, sending the tall, roughly 20-ton vehicle lurching at least 10 feet forward and scattering chunks of the outer hull like amputated body parts.

It was March 19, 2011, in the Pakhab-e-Shana in eastern Afghanistan’s breadbasket Logar Province. The bomb, later estimated at 250 pounds, had targeted a convoy belonging to the Army’s 10th Mountain Division carrying humanitarian aid to the impoverished village. Keep reading →


Mt. Airy, N.C. – Some have questioned the Army’s decision to pump millions into the aging Humvee, especially with defense spending expected to take a tumble over the next few years.

Opponents argue the Humvee is simply an old warhorse that needs to be put down, replaced by more advanced systems already in the field, and those in the works by the services and DoD. Keep reading →


Washington: The Army’s Humvee has become a modern military icon, replacing the World War II-era Jeep as one of the most recognizable vehicles on the battlefield.

It also provides just as much protection against improvised explosive devices and rocket-propelled grenades as those vehicles built by Henry Ford in the 1940′s.

The introduction of up-armored versions of the Humvee and the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicle into Iraq and Afghanistan have leveled the playing field, but even today, U.S. troops know that when you load up into a light-armored Humvee, it’s a roll of the dice.

Top Army brass know this, and are looking to do something about it, Army Chief of Staff nominee Gen. Ray Odierno told the Hill this week.

During his confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee yesterday, Odierno said the Army was considering building in scalable protective solutions into the 100,000 Humvees the service plans to upgrade in the coming months.

The Pentagon has already begun strengthening certain versions of the MRAP that are vulnerable to a particular kind of IED, known as an explosively formed penetrator, built by Iran.

“The protection of our troops and how we use these vehicles is important, and so we always try to include the most protection that we can,” Odierno said. “Either in the original design or some sort of armor that can be attached later on to protect them.”

Those scalable solutions would include armor and other defensive upgrades to the Humvee that would defend it against RPGs and IEDs — the weapons of choice for Taliban forces in Afghanistan. Army leaders have also adopted a similar plan for its future fleet of Ground Combat Vehicles and Joint Light Attack Vehicles.

GCV, designed to fill the gap between the Army’s medium-armored Stryker vehicle and M1A1 Abrams tank, is still behind schedule with the service poised to award contracts within the next few months.

But a recently released memo by Army Secretary John McHugh detailed efforts the service is taking to get its acquisition programs, including the GCV, back on track.

But until then, U.S. troops will be left to patrol the mountains and valleys of Afghanistan in the Humvee. And until Army leaders decide what they are going to do to increase protection in those vehicles, each trip American soldiers take into the field will be a gamble.

WASHINGTON: While the American war in Iraq may be winding down, things inside the Pentagon are heating up as the department looks to address the increased flow of Iranian weapons finding their way into the hands of anti-U.S. forces.

The Pentagon’s top weapons buyer Ashton Carter said today that his office is working a number of options to push new technology and equipment into Iraq. Keep reading →

Gates in official portrait wants depicted an MRAP vehicle that saved many U.S. lives. Weapons czar Ash Carter gave him a goodbye model. @ACapaccio

Washington: On his last day on the job, Defense Secretary Robert Gates received the nation’s highest civilian honor and unstinting praise from President Obama and Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The initial and official view of Gates’ tenure as Defense Secretary was overwhelmingly positive, with President Obama leading the way. Keep reading →