Armor: MRAPs For Afghanistan


January 26, 2008: The U.S. is sending 500 MRAPs (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected) vehicles to Afghanistan. Several thousand of these vehicles are already in Iraq. Until recently, MRAPs were used mainly by bomb disposal troops, and units operating in areas thick with roadside bombs. Passengers in these vehicles are much less likely to be killed or injured if they encounter a roadside bomb. Compared to troops in armored hummers, those in a MRAP vehicles suffer only about third as many casualties. Over the past year, nearly two-thirds of all casualties in Iraq are from roadside bombs, and the Taliban in Afghanistan are increasingly using roadside bombs. Thus demand for MRAPs.

The bomb resistant vehicles cost about five times more than armored hummers. The extra money buys more metal, and technology. In part, MRAPs depend on sheer heft to protect their passengers. An armored hummer weighs about four tons, while the average MRAPs are 16-19 tons. The V shaped underbody of the MRAP deflects the force of an explosion. The pressurized passenger cabin also keeps out blast effect, as well as a lot of the noise.

There's another angle to MRAP use. Intelligence analysts constantly examine casualty and IED (improvised explosive device, the milspeak for roadside bombs) patterns to insure that the MRAPs are assigned to units most likely to suffer bomb attacks. This makes it easier to put the right drivers through a week or two of training with the MRAPs, which handle differently than any other vehicle the military uses. It also makes sure that more IEDs encounter MRAPs, rather than more vulnerable vehicles.




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