NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C.: The next generation of Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles, the MRAP All Terrain Vehicles (M-ATVs), are now arriving at Space and Naval Warfare (SPAWAR) Systems Center (SSC) Atlantic. As with the MRAP vehicles, SSC Atlantic is responsible for the prototyping, testing, integration, installation and quality assurance of all advanced electronic communications equipment on the M-ATVs.
SSC Atlantic has a proven record of success with command and control, communications, computer, intelligence (C4I) equipment integration of MRAP vehicles. SSC Atlantic’s C4I Expeditionary Systems government/industry team has performed C4I integration of more than 16,000 MRAP vehicles since 2007.
The highly successful MRAP integration ramp up at SSC Atlantic attracted visitors from throughout the Department of Defense, including Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine Corps Gen. James Cartwright, then-Secretary of the Navy Donald Winter, Chief of Naval Operations Gary Roughead and others.
The M-ATVs are manufactured by Oshkosh Corporation, which was awarded the production contract June 30. More than 6,600 M-ATVs are currently authorized.
The M-ATV answers an urgent and compelling requirement to protect warfighters with a highly survivable, off-road capable vehicle. The M-ATV mission is for small unit combat operations in highly restricted rural, mountainous and urban environments that include mounted patrols, reconnaissance, security, convoy protection and communications.
The vehicles have started to flow from the vendor to SSC Atlantic. The first shipment of integrated vehicles has been flown to warfighters in Afghanistan. These vehicles will be used to complement other tactical vehicles – including MRAPs – currently being used. The lack of established roads and bridges in the Afghanistan theater of operations requires a more mobile vehicle than the previous MRAPs produced.
Since the Office of the Secretary of Defense determined the M-ATV is within the MRAP family of vehicles, it will continue to be managed by the MRAP Joint Program Office. The Marine Corps is executing the joint program on behalf of the Navy (lead service) with Marine Corps Brig. Gen. Michael Brogan as the Joint Program Executive Officer.
According to Brogan, lessons learned during the MRAP integration efforts in Charleston have been valuable in speeding the manufacture, prototyping and installation of the government furnished equipment (GFE) that provides C4I capabilities on the M-ATVs. One of the lessons learned will help the vendor better prepare the vehicles for the GFE added at SSC Atlantic. “… We were able to feed back to Oshkosh specific bracketry, racks and cabling so all that can be installed in the vehicle during manufacture; which means we don’t have to do it at SPAWAR,” Brogan said. “The goal was to push as much of that work that was getting done at SPAWAR, particularly the touch labor, upstream into the manufacturing process. Because we knew it going into this, we were able to include it into the design. That clearly is one of the lessons learned from Baseline MRAP that will speed the process at Charleston,” he added.
The SSC Atlantic team has extensive experience in the integration and fielding of various Marine mobile radio communications and tactical data radio sets, sensors and various signal intelligence systems that enhance the warfighter’s situational awareness, communications and other capabilities on the battlefield. The team has demonstrated its ability to meet a strict delivery schedule on a high volume of vehicles while maintaining configuration management across multiple C4I variants.
SSC Atlantic will utilize many members of the MRAP integration team from various engineering disciplines, including industrial and mechanical engineering, technicians, subject matter experts and support staff. SSC Atlantic’s solid partnerships with small- to mid-sized industry provide the agility required to meet the demands associated with a project of this magnitude. As with the MRAP effort, the M-ATV team is responsible for every aspect of the activities, from engineering to receipt and final inspection in theater. SSC Atlantic also provides engineering reachback for all capability packages.
SSC Atlantic Commanding Officer Capt. Bruce Urbon said, “The MRAP vehicles have resulted in the saving of many lives and limbs, and our involvement in this program has been very rewarding. We look forward to continuing our role providing direct support to the warfighter by integrating advanced electronic communications equipment in the M-ATVs.”