As John Young20, then-MRAP Task Force Chairman, pointed out on November 8, 2007, “DX ratings provide the most important DoD programs priority access to scarce production resources; however, they do not resolve fundamental production capacity shortfalls” (Young et al., 2007, p. 5). This reality led to the third major action—direct intervention by the DoD in the areas of industry where production capacity did not meet the need. Specifically, this involved tires and steel. In July 2007, industrial surveys indicated a production capacity of tires for MRAP class vehicles at less than 1,000 per month. With a planned production rate of 1,196 vehicles per month, this was well short of the needed capacity (p. 6). The DoD provided $4 million to the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) to purchase additional tire molds for the then-sole-source supplier, Michelin, to expand production (Castellaw, 2007, p. 5). In addition, the DoD added Goodyear as a second source, increasing capacity to approximately 17,000 tires per month in January 2008 (Young et al., 2007, p. 6). This addition provided the capacity to meet not only new vehicle production but also the requirement for operational spares and replacements.
The second major capacity shortage—production of steel—also required considerable attention. The total DoD demand for steel is only a fraction of the U.S. production capacity, but armor steel plate and thin gauge, quenched, and tempered steel required for MRAP vehicles are niche requirements within that industry. These specialty steels require unique processes and equipment that are available in only a few places (Young et al., 2007, pp. 6-7). To increase capacity, the JPO and MRAP Task Force advance procured two types of steel (P900 and High-Hard), qualified additional sources of steel to increase the defense industrial base, and made a specification change (qualified ASTM 4330/4130 & AL521 steel as alternatives to MIL-A-46100 High Hard steel) to increase material options (Steinholtz, 2007, Slides 6-7). The program also used the waiver process as described above to qualify and buy from overseas sources. These actions increased capacity from about 8,400 tons of the specialty steel per month at the program start to 20,900 tons per month by November 2007 (Young et al., 2007, pp. 7-8).
20 The Honorable John J. Young, Jr. is the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology,
and Logistics, current as of this writing.