15 Jun 2011 By MICHAEL HOFFMAN DefenseNews
The U.S. will ship Afghanistan's army a fleet of 440 armored security vehicles in November, adding MRAP-level blast protection to a force that now travels mostly in lightly armored Humvees and pickup trucks.
The vehicles will be from the family of Medium Armored Security Vehicles (MASV), which includes nine variants and is similar to the M117 Armored Security Vehicles driven by U.S. forces. They are built by Textron Marine & Land Systems; the Afghanistan order is the first for the vehicles.
"The MASV platform is based on the U.S. Army ASV (M117) which has a proven track record in both Iraq and Afghanistan," wrote Col. David Bassett, the U.S. Army Tactical Vehicle project manager, in an email to Defense News.
Afghanistan National Army officials requested a multirole armored vehicle to transport eight soldiers that is easy to maintain as the young force is struggling to stand up its supply chain.
"Equipping the ANSF and building its facilities is only part of the solution. There is also an obligation to enable them to sustain and maintain this equipment and infrastructure so that the echoes of the past are not heard in the future," said Lt. Gen. William Caldwell, head of NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan, in a speech at the Brookings Institution.
The program will cost $543 million, and will be paid for by Afghan Security Forces funds. Textron officials said it will take 18 months to complete the order. The first 240 vehicles will arrive by June 2012.
Afghan and coalition forces chose not to give the Afghan forces Mine-Resistant, Ambush-Protected All-Terrain Vehicles because that family of vehicles lacked the required variants and cannot transport eight soldiers, as required by Afghan military leaders, Bassett said.