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ARLINGTON, Va. — The Defense Department has delivered 1,117 Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles to the U.S. Central Command theater of operations this year as of Dec. 5, Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said Wednesday.

MRAPs have V-shaped hulls to deflect blasts from underneath and provide more protection against roadside bombs than up-armored Humvees.

The Defense Department hopes to have 1,500 vehicles in theater by the end of the year.

Those vehicles that are sent by ship first go to Kuwait and are then flown elsewhere in the CENTCOM theater.

Morrell could not say Wednesday how many MRAPs would still be in Kuwait at year’s end, but he said the goal is to get as many into the fight as possible.

When Morrell spoke to reporters on Nov. 14, he said about 760 MRAPs had been delivered to Iraq.

Since then, MRAP production has increased dramatically, U.S. Transportation Command has begun sending the vehicles by ship, and Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center in Charleston, S.C., has increased the number of MRAPs ready to be sent to theater from 21 per day in November to 50 per day in December, officials said.

By the end of December, about 200 MRAPs are expected to be airlifted downrange and several hundred more should be headed to Kuwait by ship, according to TRANSCOM officials.

Once the MRAPs get to Kuwait, up to 12 vehicles per day will be airlifted to their intended units, the TRANSCOM officials said in a Dec. 4 e-mail.

News of progress toward meeting the goal of delivering 1,500 MRAPs downrange this year comes after both the Marine Corps and Army have indicated that they need fewer of the vehicles than they originally thought.

The Corps recently reduced its request from 3,700 to 2,300 MRAPs, citing improved security conditions in Iraq and limitations on where MRAPs can operate. The head of Multi-National Corps-Iraq has said the Army will need fewer of the vehicles after troop levels fall next year in Iraq.

A top Corps official told reporters Tuesday that the Marines still need MRAPs in Iraq, but not as a one-to-one replacement for up-armored Humvees, as originally intended.

“What we’re finding now is we don’t need as many as we used to; it’s not saying we don’t need the MRAPs, we do, it’s just we’re using them in a manner that may be a little different than originally thought,” said Lt. Gen. John G. Castellaw, deputy commandant for programs and resources.

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