March 26, 2013:
The U.S. Army is converting 250 of its RG33 MRAP (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected) vehicles for use by combat engineers who seek out and clear roadside bombs and mines. This will cost about $150,000 per vehicle. This is part of an effort to make some use of the 20,000 MRAPs the Department of Defense bought (mainly for the army and marines) over the last decade at a cost of $45 billion. Current plans are to put at least half of these vehicles into storage. About ten percent of them (the oldest and most beat up) will be scrapped and the rest will be donated (to American police departments and foreign armed forces) or used for training. Some will still be used in Afghanistan as long as there are American troops there.
The RG33 is one of over a dozen MRAP models purchased. The RG33 has four wheels and weighs 22 tons. There is a RG-33L model that has six wheels, can carry twice as many people in the back, and weighs 26 to 37 tons depending on the version.
The RG33 is part of a family of similar vehicles. The RG31 came first (in 2007). Also called Nyala, it was developed and built in South Africa. It normally costs about a million dollars each (depending on accessories) and was designed to resist landmines and roadside bombs. It was developed from the earlier Mamba armored personnel carrier and has an excellent track record. This wheeled (4x4) vehicle weighs eight tons and can carry up to eleven people. Some models, depending on equipment carried, only seat five.
RG32 is a smaller version of the RG31 MRAP. The RG32 is similar to armored hummers and weighs 4.5 tons. It does not have the characteristic MRAP V shaped underbody. It is bulletproof and resistant to explosions and mines (but not as much as the MRAP version). The RG32 can carry five people and is popular with peacekeepers.