The US Marines have requested engineers build a hardier off-road version of the mine-resistant ambush-protected (MRAP) vehicle for use in Afghanistan.

Marine corps commandant James T Conway expressed the desire for an off-road version of the current MRAP vehicle to assist the 8,000 troops currently headed for Afghanistan.

The 16t vehicle has proved itself by saving lives in Iraq but struggles on poor roads and is known to get bogged down in the Afghan terrain.

Conway said that a prototype with independent wheel suspension had already been tested.

“Unfortunately, initial modifications to the V-shaped hull reduced the vehicles resistance to roadside bombs. It didn’t work very well – the dummies inside all died,” Conway said.

A newer modification process, however, has started with more positive results.

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“The long-term use of MRAPs in the marine corps is going to be very positive, and we can do it all at a fraction of the cost of pursuing a new line of vehicles,” said Conway.

The marine corps currently has around 2,200 MRAPs in service.

By Daniel Garrun.