July 3, 2009: The United States is buying 2,244 special, all-terrain, MRAPs (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected) for use in Afghanistan. The M-ATV (MRAP-All Terrain Vehicle) is a 15 ton, 4x4 (with independent wheel suspension) armored vehicle. Payload is 1.8 tons, and it can carry five passengers (including a gunner). Top speed is 105 kilometers an hour, and range on internal fuel is 515 kilometers. The M-ATV is slightly larger than a hummer.
The reason for the M-ATV is that all other MRAPs are, after all, just heavy trucks. And the capsule design produces a high center of gravity, that makes the vehicles prone to flipping over easily. They are also large vehicles, causing maneuverability problems when going through narrow streets. Most MRAPs don't have a lot of torque, being somewhat underpowered for their size. And, being wheeled vehicles, they are not very good at cross country movement (especially considering the high center of gravity.) The M-ATV was designed to deal with all of these problems.
The first M-ATVs will reach Afghanistan in October, and production of this order will be complete by the end of next year. Each M-ATV costs $446,000. They are flown to Afghanistan, which, with operating and maintenance costs for one year, triples their cost.