Armor: MRAPs Deliver


April 9,2008: The U.S. Army and Marines now have about 3,000 MRAPs (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected) vehicles [VIDEO] being used by combat troops in Iraq. For the last four years, there have been as many as two thousand of these vehicles in use by bomb disposal specialists, and units operating in areas almost certain to have lots of roadside bombs. Passengers in these vehicles are much less likely to be killed or injured if they encounter a roadside bomb. Thus if all the troops who encountered these bombs were in a MRAP, casualties would be up to 65 percent less. Until about a year ago, about two-thirds of all casualties in Iraq were from roadside bombs. Thus the army and marines expected widespread use of these vehicles to reduce overall casualties by about a third. But in the last year, the use of IEDs (roadside bombs) has fallen by two-thirds. Still, experience so far shows that troops are about five times more likely to be killed or injured if in an armored hummer, rather than an MRAP. The marines, for example, have not had anyone, in an MRAP when hit by an IED, killed or seriously injured. But this has been expensive. The bomb resistant vehicles cost about five times more than armored hummers or trucks.

One of the more common of these bomb resistant vehicles are called Cougars. The Cougar are more expensive to operate, and less flexible than the hummer. The Cougar and similar vehicles use a capsule design to protect the passengers and key vehicle components mines and roadside bombs. The bulletproof Cougars 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 also has a version called JERRV (joint explosive ordnance disposal rapid response Vehicles). Basically, JERRV is a 12 ton truck that is hardened to survive bombs and mines. The Cougar can get engineers into combat situations where mines, explosives or any kind of obstacle, have to be cleared. The 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 U.S. Department of Defense is in the process of sending over 10,000 MRAPs to Iraq and Afghanistan.


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