The US Marines Corps has slashed its order for Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles by more than a third from companies such as Force Protection Industries and Bae.

Commandant of the Marines General James Terry Conway says the order is being reduced because of the improving security situation in Iraq and the marines’ operational needs.

He says the marines will buy 2,300 of the vehicles instead of the originally planned 3,700.

Earlier this year, Conway said he wanted MRAP protection for every marine in Iraq operating outside military bases.

The US Department of Defense was expected to buy 15,300 MRAPs for the military at a cost of more than US$500,000 each before the order was cut.

The marines’ request for 3,700 vehicles was the second largest from the military, topped only by the request for 10,000 by the army.

Force Protection’s stock has fallen by more than 25 percent since the order reduction was announced.

By Tim McAtackney