Approximately 13,000 mine-resistant ambush-protected trucks have "outlived their original purpose" and are now being given away as-is for free by the US military. Get your ass down to the local motorpool tell 'em Andrew sent ya!
The American military is looking to downsize its presence in Afghanistan and wants smaller vehicles as it draws-down. They don't want to leave their fleet of MRAPs in the hands of the young Afghan army because of how complex and expensive to run the trucks are, so back home to America they come.
Deputy Undersecretary for Defense and Acquisitions, Technology and Logistics Alan Estevez told The Wall Street Journal "We've notified our friends and allies that we have MRAPs available and if they want them they can have them."
By that he means the trucks are being offered to American public institutions and US-friendly governments only. Delivery to private citizens and businesses is being barred, for now. But you can bet your ass I'm going to start writing my congressman about that as soon as I publish this post.
Apparently foreign powers aren't exactly lining up to pick up a free truck. Probably because they've seen what these leviathans look like after a few tours in the Afghan desert, and even if they could be bothered to pick 'em up, most entities aren't interested in taking on the massive care and feeding costs incurred from running a war machine.
But home in the US, cops are eating them up. It's been reported that almost 200 of the trucks have already been delivered to police departments and 750 new requests are pending. The public reaction to seeing the vehicles in their neighborhoods has not been so universally positive, but law enforcement officials maintain that they make economic sense.
"The price was right because it was free and it fit with what we need it to do," Captain John Crouse of the Florence County, SC Sheriff's Department told WSJ. "It stops bullets. It keeps you from getting shot." Properly armored SWAT vehicles range from $100,000 to $250,000 and MRAPs run about half a million bucks new.
Navistar International, Oshkosh, and BAE Systems are not pleased with this development, as they were hoping to cash in on the maintenance revenue of the US military's MRAP fleet. Five companies in total got a piece of the $50 billion contract to build MRAP trucks seven years ago.
Of course the repair market would still exist if the trucks change ownership, but the companies are concerned many will be scrapped.
WSJ says "Navistar's defense-related revenue fell 51% last year" and just posted a weak $39 million sales quarter after raking in $2 billion "just a few years ago." Oshkosh is also seeing a revenue drop and BAE is closing a truck plant in Texas.
Boo-hoo. If those guys are so keen on defending capitalism and a free-market economy, they should quit whinging and starting building something there's demand for.
For the near future "about 11,000" MRAPs will stay in US military garages, with 6,500 currently doing duty in Afghanistan and another 1,600 in Kuwait. Some 6,000 have already been brought back to the US.
That leaves about 5,000 mean machines up for grabs. So if you're doing this year's budget for your local public agency, now's the time to put in an order for a battle-tested people mover. Hey, I'm sure they all ran when they were parked. Or hit an IED.
Hat tip to Mike Ballaban, who's a really cool dude.
Images: CBP Photography/Flickr, Getty, AP