WASHINGTON – A new armored vehicle capable of protecting troops against the deadliest roadside bombs in Iraq has been successfully tested by the Pentagon and could go into production immediately, according to its manufacturer and a U.S. senator.
The vehicle, known as the Bull, has proven effective at repelling blasts from explosively formed penetrators, or EFPs. These roadside bombs have been particularly lethal in Iraq because they can pierce even heavily armored vehicles. The Bull’s method for defeating these bombs is classified, said Marc King, vice president of armor operations at Ceradyne Inc., the vehicle’s manufacturer.
The Army declined to comment on the vehicle because it has not issued contracts to purchase it, said Dave Foster, an Army spokesman at the Pentagon.
USA Today has reported that Marine Corps officials in Iraq had issued an urgent plea to bolster the armor on new vehicles being built. The request noted that Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles, which the Pentagon already is scrambling to build and ship to Iraq to counter conventional makeshift bombs, need more armor to deal with EFPs. The Pentagon may buy as many as 22,000 MRAPs at a cost of $25 billion, according to estimates from military documents.
Improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, have taken an increasingly heavy toll on U.S. troops in Iraq. Nearly 80 percent of U.S. troops killed in Iraq last month died in roadside bomb blasts, according to Pentagon records. In January, IEDs were responsible for 39 percent of deaths.
Marine Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, noted that there were 69 attacks by EFPs in April – the highest monthly number recorded.
King said the Bull had passed limited government tests, including most for survivability. The vehicle can be configured to transport troops or haul cargo, he said.
“It can … perform against the most lethal threats on the battlefield at a high probability of success,” he said.