WARNER ROBINS -- A B-17 expected to arrive next week isn’t the only significant addition coming to the Museum of Aviation’s collection.
While the B-17 will get a parade, the museum quietly took delivery Thursday of a Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle, known by the military as an MRAP.
“It’s as big of a deal to me as receiving the B-17 next week,” said Mike Rowland, the museum’s curator, as he showed the vehicle.
MRAPs are a family of vehicles built to withstand blasts from bombs left along roads by insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan. As bombs began to take a toll on troops early in the Iraq war, the Department of Defense invested heavily in MRAPs, which use a heavy duty V-shaped bottom to deflect a bomb’s force.
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The one the museum is getting was used in Afghanistan by the Air Force Office of Special Investigations. Those airmen went into villages gathering intelligence on enemy forces.
The museum’s MRAP took a bomb blast in January 2014 that caused heavy damage, yet none of the troops inside were injured.
“It did its job,” Rowland said. “Because of that, it’s a great addition to the Museum of Aviation collection.”
The vehicle was repaired and returned to service. It shows some rust and signs of wear, but Rowland said he plans to leave that as is, to show the vehicle just how it looked in the combat zone.
While the museum does a good job of telling the story of the Air Force’s past, Rowland said, he wants to do more to the tell the story of its present. The MRAP, he said, reflects what the Air Force does today outside its traditional aviation role.
For now it is in the restoration area at the back of the museum, but within a couple of weeks it will be put on display inside the Century of Flight Hangar. Eventually the plan is to add mannequins and set up a diorama around it.
To contact writer Wayne Crenshaw, call 256-9725.