Armor: Untested New MRAPs


November 8, 2007: The U.S. decision to rapidly increase the number of MRAPs (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected) [PHOTO] vehicles from 2,000 to 17,000, resulted in several new and untried (in combat) designs suddenly showing up. That's because existing manufacturers of MRAP vehicles did not have the capacity to build a lot more, as quickly as the Department of Defense wanted them. Other manufacturers did not believe it efficient to build existing MRAP designs under license. The Department of Defense went along with that.

This was because MRAPs are basically armored, and heavily modified trucks. These bomb resistant vehicles cost about five times more than armored hummers or trucks. This is justified by the fact that MRAPs are safer, and these vehicles would prevent up to a hundred troops a month from getting killed or wounded.

Currently, the most common MRAP is the Cougar [PHOTO], followed by the larger Buffalo [PHOTO]. MRAPs like these are built using the same construction techniques pioneered by South African firms that have, over the years, delivered thousands of landmine resistant vehicles to the South African armed forces. These were a great success. The South African technology was imported into the U.S. in 1998, and has already been used in the design of vehicles used by peacekeepers in the Balkans.

The 7-12 ton Cougar comes in two basic versions. The four wheel one can carry ten passengers, the six wheel one can carry 16. The trucks cost about $730,000 each, fully equipped. The Buffalos are 23 ton, heavily modified, Peterbuilt Mac-10 trucks. Costing $740,000 each, they have added armor protection to keep out machine-gun bullets.

The most common new MRAPs include the MaxxPro, a 16 ton vehicle that can carry six troops and costs $548,000. Another new one is the Caiman, a 14 ton vehicle carrying six troops and costing $443,000. These two models account for about half the 7,000 new MRAPs on order. The rest come from existing suppliers, and several other new MRAP manufacturers. All these vehicles share common design features, and that fact that they are just more massive. This protects the crew, which is mainly what an MRAP exists to do.




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