Army: Vehicle Armor Upgrade by Summer

Responding to roadside attacks on military trucks and Humvees (search) in Iraq, the Pentagon (searchintends to provide reinforced glass and other protection for about 10,000 vehicles by the summer, a spokesman said Thursday.

The military is making much of the protective equipment on its own, but has contracted out some of the work to speed the process, said Maj. Gary Tallman, a Pentagon spokesman for Army weapons and technology issues.

The upgraded armor is designed to thwart snipers, homicide bombers and others who have attacked non-combat military vehicles.

"In Iraq, you've got an unconventional enemy that targets combat support units," Tallman said.

Among the private firms manufacturing the protective equipment is St. Louis-based Engineered Support Systems (search).

Vehicles like Humvees and trucks were not originally designed with heavy armor because they are not traditionally used at the front of combat, Engineered Support spokesman Daniel Kreher said.

"This type of stuff, armies have never been engaged in," Kreher said. "People are hitting at the fringes. Now, with what's going on in Iraq, (the Pentagon) decided we have a lot of vehicles that need ... extra protection."

Some trucks and Humvees have canvas doors and traditional windows. On some vehicles, doors have been removed.

The upgraded armor includes reinforced glass, thicker doors and floor boards that are more difficult to penetrate, but don't hinder the vehicles' speed and maneuverability.

The roadside attacks in Iraq had become so concerning that some units were customizing their own trucks and Humvees. Tallman said the Pentagon has been developing the upgraded armor since last fall, though individual units can still customize their own armor as long as those upgrades meet specifications.