Remember back in 2004, when Donald Rumsfeld told troops complaining about their lack of essential gear, "You go to war with the Army you have, not the Army you might want"? It sounded like he was merely being glib, but that single quote encapsulated a truth about military innovation: All the biggest brains weren't dedicated to figuring out how to fight the wars we were actually waging. But in a few short years, the military has made some remarkable strides at addressing that problem--ranging from anti-sniper technology to a new generation of armored truck, which will enter service in 2010.
Why the need for a new vehicle? As Popular Mechanics reports, Hummers weren't designed to protect against blasts, and their replacement, the MRAP, was really a stop-gap solution. So the Pentagon issued an emergency call for a new vehicle, and now, it's spent $3 billion on the MRAP All Terrain Vehicle (M-ATV). By this time next year, there will be 5,000 of these vehicles out on the road.
The innovations are brilliantly simple. Again, via Popular Mechanics:
There is also a slew of protective features that make the vehicle a vast improvement on Humvees while keeping its weight and profile to a minimum. These include a V-shaped hull that deflects the force of explosions away from the vehicle's occupants; seats that are suspended from the ceiling with straps, instead of being bolted to the floor, so that explosive energy doesn't travel into the cab and cause leg injuries; energy-absorbing floor mats; wheels that are located away from where people sit so that pressure-plate-triggered IEDs do not detonate under the crew capsule; and tire rims can survive if the wheels are blasted away, at least long enough to escape the kill zone of an ambush.
Read the whole story here.