In the race for military vehicle contracts, Navistar ( NAVZ.PK) has once again left Force Protection ( FRPT) eating some dust. Both companies, along with British-based BAE, on Thursday scored new contracts from the U.S. Department of Defense for mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles. But Navistar led the pack -- further threatening Force Protection's reign over the industry -- by landing the biggest order of all. Navistar fielded an order for 1,000 MRAP vehicles for the Navy worth some $509 million. Force Protection secured a smaller order for 800 MRAPs for the Navy valued at $377 million. BAE won a new contract, too, landing a deal for 600 MRAPs worth almost $323 million, also for the Navy. Not so long ago, Force Protection virtually monopolized the entire MRAP industry. But the company has steadily lost market share to other competitors. Navistar, once considered a long-shot MRAP contender at best, has managed to catch the company from behind. All told, Navistar has now scored contracts for nearly 3,000 MRAP vehicles. So After just two months of production, Navistar has already delivered 188 of those vehicles to the military. The company plans to be churning out some 500 MRAPs a month by February. For its part, Navistar likes to stress that it has been mass-producing commercial trucks for decades. Thus, the company clearly felt prepared when it entered the MRAP race.
"As the largest commercial truck and midrange diesel engine manufacturer in North America, we offer a number of advantages," said Archie Massicotte, president of Navistar's International Military and Government division. "We produced more than 161,000 commercial vehicles last year. We know how to produce quality vehicles." Now, he added, "we are committed to delivering these (MRAPs) as soon as possible to help protect our military."