MRAP: Oshkosh Entries Stalled on 2 Fronts
It has been one of the most puzzling features of the MRAP competition to date. Thales Australia’s Bushmaster vehicle was one of the first mine-resistant vehicles on the ground in Afghanistan and Iraq, where it has served successfully with Australian and Dutch forces. Yet it reaped none of the “low risk deployment” orders issued at the competition’s inception, and has received none since. Now Thales Australia makes it official: with over 80% of allotted vehicles ordered, the Bushmaster Category II JERRV vehicle is out of the race for MRAP-I competition orders.
The announcement means that both of Oshkosh’s partnered entries have washed out, coming as it does on the heels of reports that their PVI, Inc. partnership’s Alpha Category I MRUV vehicle had failed MRAP testing. The Aug 8/07 Thales Australia release [PDF format] says:
“The Thales Bushmaster vehicle offer for the US MRAP Phase 1 Program was not selected due to an evolving requirement, not due to a lack of marketing or lobbying effort… Thales and OSHKOSH remain confident of future potential sales of Bushmaster under ongoing Phases of MRAP in the US.”
Oshkosh still has options, but it’s now a long way behind truck rivals Navistar (1,960 MRAP orders) and Stewart & Stevenson (now BAE, 1,170 orders) in its efforts to capitalize on this major land vehicle trend. The firm has moved to shore up its MRAP-II program options by partnering with Ceradyne and I3 on their Bull design, which uses Oshkosh trucks as a base and offers potential in the logistics vehicle market as well as troop carrier options. With its potential production capacity out of the competition for the near term, however, DoD pressure may also be mounting for a partnership with an existing winner, in order to leverage that capacity for designs currently on order. Time will tell.