US Secretary of Defence Robert Gates says Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) are not an uncontrollable challenge, and has urged the defence industry to produce Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected vehicles (MRAPs) quickly and in greater numbers.

MRAP vehicles can safely guard against explosively formed projectiles – shaped charges designed to pierce armoured vehicles.

Mr Gates says the US is ‘absolutely not accepting IED attacks as a challenge that can’t be defeated’.

“The companies that have been awarded the contracts are ramping up their production capabilities. I am pressing them very hard to see where they can cut the time scale as well as increase their production,” he says.

It takes 30 days to outfit MRAP vehicles with the necessary communications equipment and another 30 days to ship them to troops. Mr Gates says the US Defence Department is trying to accelerate MRAP production by helping manufacturers acquire speciality steels or axles, as well as flying completed vehicles to the field.

“This is not so much about industry having to change fundamentally the way they do business, it is simply finding ways to produce more of these vehicles faster.”