Oshkosh, initially absent from the Mrap arena, has become one of the main Mrap providers to US forces with its Mrap-All Terrain Vehicle Oshkosh developed to answer Afghanistan mobility needs. (Armada/Paolo Valpolini)
Oshkosh was one of the latest players on the US scenario. Absent in the early Mrap surge, the Wisconsin-based company entered this field in June 2009 when it won the bid for the M-ATV (Mrap All Terrain Vehicles) programme and secured a first contract to the tune of $1 million for 2,244 vehicles over the 5,200 requirement being signed at that date. The first vehicles were deployed to Afghanistan in the fall of 2009. A second contract for a further 1,700 M-ATVs followed one month later, again followed by other that increased the overall number well above the original target of 5,200, with over 8,700 now handed over to the US forces. Amongst those, 40 from a late 2010 order for Special Forces feature a modified cargo deck and larger front windscreens. In June 2011 a contract for 400 further base vehicles with integrated underbody protection was signed.
A TOW carrier, as well as reconnaissance and ambulance versions have also been developed, and the first order for the 250 of the latter version was signed in December 2010. However the Department of Defence was not satisfied with the blast tests and placed a “stop work” on the contract. This led to improvements which included a length increase of 0.5 metre and the adoption of an Underbody Improvement Kit (UIK). According to company sources these modifications increased the protection level well above the requirement. In spite of these successes, production of new vehicles for American forces is quite limited according to the company, and mostly linked to attrition. American contracts focus mostly on after-sales support for upgrading and maintenance: in February 2012 Oshkosh announced that 3,900 M-ATVs deployed in Afghanistan had been equipped with the UIK (Underbody Improvement Kit). The kit was the answer to the increasing threat level of roadside bombs, and over 5,000 have been ordered (the latest vehicles are already outfitted). The crash programme was carried out in less than seven months. Kits were subsequently installed in ten sites determined by the Mrap Joint Program Office (3,500 kits were installed by Oshkosh technicians deployed overseas, and 400 more were installed by Army personnel.
With the American market mostly saturated, Oshkosh turned its attention to the international market. The company is pursuing technical improvements, the development of new variants, and the implementation of leaner methodologies in the production process to improve quality and reduce costs. Armour technologies and ease of various systems and subsystems integration are part of the constant improvements. The first major export order was chalked up in July 2012 when the United Arab Emirates signed a contract for 750 M-ATVs to be delivered between January and August 2013. It was one of these, incidentally, that in October 2012 materialised the 100,000th military vehicle rolled out by Oshkosh. The total number of M-ATVs ordered now exceed the 9,500 unit mark. Shipping of the first Emirati vehicles had already started in late- October, meaning that deliveries and fielding are probably ahead of schedule. According to Oshkosh the Middle East remains one of the most promising marketing areas, the company targeting other programmes in that region.