ARLINGTON, Va. — The Defense Department has ordered 2,400 more Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles.

Known as “MRAPs,” the vehicles have V-shaped hulls to deflect blasts from underneath and have proven to withstand roadside bombs better than up-armored Humvees.

In total, the Defense Department has ordered about 8,800 of the vehicles.

Officials have authorized a total of 15,274 MRAPs for all branches of the service, and that breaks down to:

10,000 for the Army.3,700 for the Marine Corps.697 for the Air Force.544 for the Navy.333 for Special Operations Command.The Defense Department plans to order the roughly 6,500 more vehicles to meet the total authorization for all of the services in December, but first it needs to ask Congress for more money, a senior Defense official said on Thursday.

The official said the Defense Department still hopes to send at least 1,500 MRAPs to the U.S. Central Command theater of operations by the end of the year.

Since January, about 500 MRAPs have been delivered to the CENTCOM theater of operations, of which all but about 20 are in Iraq, Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters earlier on Thursday.

Of the roughly 300 MRAPs delivered to the government in September, 101 were flown to Iraq.

Not all of the MRAPs delivered to the government were sent downrange because they first have to have gear such as radios and jammers installed at the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center in Charleston, S.C.

It now takes about 22 days to get vehicles through SPAWAR, but some MRAPs can make it through SPAWAR in about seven days, the senior Defense official said.

The more experience SPAWAR has outfitting a certain type of MRAP, the quicker it takes to outfit the vehicle with the necessary gear, the official said.

The Defense Department ultimately hopes to reduce the time it takes for all MRAPs to get through SPAWAR to seven days, the official said.

The head of the Defense Department’s MRAP task force said he originally hoped that at least 3,500 MRAPs would be in Iraq by the end of the year, but that figure was later downsized to take into account the time to equip MRAPs with the necessary gear and send them downrange.

On Thursday, the official implored reporters not to repeat the original 3,500 estimate, saying it was made “on the fly.”

“I don’t want to create any false impressions, but I would want to tell you everybody is working as hard as they can, they understand from Secretary Gates down, they want every — he wants every vehicle that can built, outfitted and shipped to theater there as fast as possible,” the official said.

The official also said he feels the Defense Department will send more than 1,500 MRAPs to theater by the end of the year but he declined to be more specific.

“Since that’s become a sensational press story I don’t want to quote a number anymore,” the official said.

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