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An MRAP Cougar HE in testing with land mines set off around it.
|Type||Armoured Personnel Carriers (wheeled)|
|Used by||US DoD, ISAF|
An MRAP Cougar HE in testing with land mines set off around it.
|Type||Armoured Personnel Carriers (wheeled)|
|Used by||US DoD, ISAF|
Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP; pron.: // EM-rap) vehicles are a family of armored fighting vehicles used by the United States armed forces, among others. The purpose of the design is surviving improvised explosive device (IED) attacks and ambushes. The first developments in armored vehicles designed specifically to counter the land mine threat took place during the 1972-1980 Rhodesian Bush War and the technology was subsequently matured in South Africa.
There is no common MRAP vehicle design, as there are several vendors, each with its own vehicle. Originally Brig. General Michael Brogan, and now Brig. General Frank Kelley, Commander, United States Marine Corps Systems Command, is in charge of the Marine MRAP program. Mr. Kevin Fahey, U.S. Army Program Executive Officer for Command Support and Combat Service Support, manages the Army MRAP program. The Marine Corps had planned to replace all Humvees in combat zones with MRAP vehicles, although this appears to have changed. As armored vehicles are considered an "urgent need" in Afghanistan, this program is primarily funded under an "emergency war budget". On 8 May 2007, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said that the acquisition of MRAPs is the Department of Defense's highest priority, so for fiscal year 2007 $1.1 billion is earmarked for MRAP. Gates decided to ramp up MRAP orders after the Marines reported in 2004 that no troops had died in more than 300 IED attacks on Cougars  As of May 6, 2008 eight soldiers had been reported killed in the thousands of MRAPs in Iraq, according to news service Knight Ridder.
In June 2008, USA Today reported that roadside bomb attacks and fatalities were down almost 90% partially due to MRAPs. "They've taken hits, many, many hits that would have killed soldiers and Marines in unarmored Humvees", according to Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Maj. General Rick Lynch, who commanded a division in Baghdad, told USA Today the 14-ton MRAPs have forced insurgents to build bigger, more sophisticated bombs to knock out the vehicles. Those bombs take more time and resources to build and set up, which gives U.S. forces a better chance of catching the insurgents in the act and stopping them. The Taliban is also focusing their efforts away from anti-material IEDs and more toward smaller anti-personnel bombs that target soldiers on patrol.
MRAP vehicles usually have "V"-shaped hulls to deflect away any explosive forces originating below the vehicle, thereby protecting the vehicle and its passenger compartment. Typically these explosions are from land mines, but they can also be IEDs. This design dates to the 1970s when it was first introduced in specialised vehicles built by and for the Rhodesian army, and further developed by South African manufacturers, starting in 1978 with the Buffel (Buffalo) armored personnel carrier (APC). However, the TSG/FPI Cougar (designed by a British-led U.S. team in 2004 for a USMC requirement) became the springboard from which the MRAP program was launched.
Multiple contracts have been placed by the United States for this type of vehicle in response to the situation in the Iraq War. By issuing contracts to several companies, the Marine Corps hopes to accelerate the rate of production, in order to expedite the delivery of vehicles to deployed forces. However, there are only two steel mills in the United States, Oregon Steel Mills, Inc. and International Steel Group, qualified to produce armored steel for the Defense Department, which has been in negotiations to ensure enough steel is available to keep pace with production. The concept was to replace Humvee-type vehicles with a more robust, survivable vehicle when on patrol "outside the wire".
Designs were submitted by the following companies.
Although early orders were placed with many of the contenders (see below), as of 18 October 2007, only IMG, FPI, and BAE remain in the competition for additional orders.
The MRAP program was prompted by U.S. deaths in Iraq. As recently as 2007, the U.S. Military has ordered the production of about 10,000 MRAPs at a cost of over $500,000 each, and planned to order more MRAPs.  Partial list of orders under the MRAP program:
Oshkosh Corp., Oshkosh, Wisconsin, is being awarded a $1,064,463,100 firm-fixed-priced delivery order under previously awarded firm-fixed-price contract W56HZV-09-D-0111 to exercise an option for 1,700 Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) All Terrain Vehicles. The Navy contract value is $1,064,463,100. A similar Army contract for 1,700 Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) All-Terrain Vehicles is valued at a further $1,063,700,000. By 2009 the US Department of Defence had spent $20 billion on the MRAP program. Total MRAP program expenditure when final deliveries are accepted is expected to cost $48.5 billion (FY10-11).
Orders of vehicles associated with the MRAP program:
The MRAP class is separated into three categories according to weight and size.
The Mine-Resistant Utility Vehicle (MRUV) is smaller and lighter, designed for urban operations.
Category 1 MRAP vehicles ordered or currently in service:
The Joint Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Rapid Response Vehicle (JERRV) is designed for missions including convoy lead, troop transport, ambulance, explosive ordnance disposal and combat engineering.
Category II MRAP vehicles ordered or currently in service:
The deployment of MRAP vehicles has not been without criticisms. The most common are concerns about the high cost ($17.6 billion program), potential logistical difficulties due to high fuel consumption and varied designs, a greater disconnection between troops and the local population due to their massive size and menacing look (conflicting with current counter-insurgency (COIN) strategy), and what U.S. military will do with them following a U.S. withdrawal from the current conflict in Iraq since they are expensive to transport and operate (some speculate they may be sold or donated to Iraq, or put in storage in America.) MRAP funding has pulled money away from other tactical vehicle programs, most noticeably the Humvee replacement, the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, which has been delayed by two years.
According to Army Times, some troops openly wonder about the design of some versions of the MRAP. Some examples are: why the rear seats face inward and not outward in such a way they could fire their weapons through ports, which some versions lack. The height and steepness of the dropdown stairs at the rear of the some versions can make getting out of the vehicle dangerous. Troops riding in the rear can hit their head on the ceiling from bouncing up and down in rough terrain. Medics told the Army Times that a soldier broke his neck after bouncing his head off the overhead, and another is said to have seriously damaged his skull after slamming into a protruding bolt in the overhead while wearing a soft cover.
A June 13 report by the Marine Corps Center for Lessons Learned indicated concerns about MRAP vehicles rolling over in combat zones. The V-shaped hulls of the MRAP give it a higher center of gravity and the weight of the MRAP can cause the poorly built or maintained roads in rural Iraq or Afghanistan to collapse. Of the 66 MRAP accidents between November 7, 2007, and June 8, 2008, almost 40 were due to rollovers caused by bad roads, weak bridges, or driver error. In many of the rollovers troops were injured, and in two separate incidents five soldiers have been killed by rolling over into a canal and getting trapped under water. The report said 75% of all rollovers occurred in rural areas often when the road is above grade and a ditch or canal full of water is next to it. The same report raised concerns associated with MRAP vehicles snagging on low-hanging powerlines in Iraq or its antennas getting close enough to create an electric arc, which may lead to electrocution of passengers. The person located in the gunner's hatch is at the highest risk.
The MRAP may not be effective against Explosively Formed Penetrators (EFP), which use an explosive charge to propel a specially shaped metal plate at high velocity while simultaneously deforming it into an armor-piercing projectile. Use of EFPs more than doubled in 2006 and is expected to continue to increase.  In 2007, 11 percent of all roadside bomb fatalities were due to EFPs. However, the Marines estimate that the use of the MRAP could reduce the casualties in Iraq due to IED attacks by as much as 80 percent. The alleged MRAP weakness is being addressed by the next-generation MRAP II. As an interim solution, the military is currently installing a variant of the Humvee's IED defeating Frag Kit 6 armor, which adds significant weight, as well as width to the already large and heavy vehicle. In July 2008 the U.S. Military reported the number of EFP attacks had dropped by 70 percent.
On 19 January 2008 a 3rd Infantry Division U.S. Army soldier operating as the exposed turret gunner, was killed in a Navistar MaxxPro MRAP vehicle by an ANFO IED estimated at 600 lbs. It is unknown whether the gunner was killed by the explosion or by the vehicle when it rolled over after the blast. However, the vehicle’s v-hull was not compromised. The crew compartment also appeared to be uncompromised in the attack, and the three other crew members who were all inside the vehicle survived; one with a shattered left foot, a broken nose and several broken teeth; one with a fractured foot; and the third unhurt. Although this was reported as the first MRAP combat death, later reports clarified that several soldiers had been killed by IEDs in RG-31s and by EFPs in Buffalos before this incident.
Several criticisms of the MRAP program have been its lack of a common design, which presents a wartime logistical challenge, and the relatively low number of units which have been delivered to Iraq and Afghanistan, despite large orders. However, some analysts see the diversity of MRAP vehicles as an advantage. Other criticisms include the vehicle's weight and size, which severely limit its mobility off main roads, in urban areas, and over bridges. 72 percent of the world's bridges cannot hold the MRAP. Its heft also restricts several of the vehicles from being transported by C-130 cargo aircraft or the amphibious ships that carry Marine equipment and supplies. Although three MRAP vehicles (or five Oshkosh M-ATV's) will fit in a C-17 aircraft, airlifting is extremely expensive, at $150,000 per vehicle, according to estimates by the U.S. Transportation Command. In an effort to rush more vehicles to the theater, the U.S. Air Force even contracted several Ukrainian Antonov An-124 heavy-cargo aircraft, which became a familiar sight in the skies above cities such as Charleston, South Carolina where some MRAPs are produced. For comparison, sealifting costs around $13,000 per vehicle, but takes 3–4 weeks for the vehicle to arrive in theater. In December 2007, the Marine Corps reduced its request from 3,700 vehicles to 2,300. The Army is also reassessing its MRAP requirements in Iraq. In January 2010, 400 were flown in to Afghanistan, increasing to 500 a month in February, but the goal of 1,000 a month was delayed because of difficulty in distribution and training.
|The Bull APC |
On July 31, 2007, the Marine Corps Systems Command launched an MRAP II pre-solicitation, to develop a new vehicle that offers a higher level of protection than the current MRAP vehicles, particularly from advanced threats such as explosively formed penetrators. While the Frag Kit 6 was designed to meet the threat of EFPs, the MRAP II competition's purpose was to find a vehicle that didn't need the upgrade kit. The U.S. Army Research laboratory worked to ensure the technologies used in Frag Kit 6 would be available to MRAP II designers.
In addition, the new solicitation was designed to provide the Joint Program Management Office with a greater flexibility to increase production capability and provide vehicles with enhanced protection and performance to meet future near-term requirements. Full text of the solicitation can be found.
The initial testing at the Aberdeen Proving Grounds served to disqualify vehicles that didn’t meet requirements. Competitors who did not receive MRAP-II orders include Force Dynamics (reinforced Cougar), GDLS Canada (upgraded BAE OMC RG-31), Navistar subsidiary IMG (upgraded MaxxPro), Textron's upgraded M1117, and Protected Vehicles, Inc. (upgraded Golan vehicle, with improved side doors and different armor; arrived on last day). Blackwater USA (Grizzly APC with Ares EXO Scale appliqué armor) was later disqualified due to a limited amount of armor in the frontal area of the vehicle.
There were two eventual winners of the competition. The first was an upgraded Caiman, originally designed by Armor Holdings which was later acquired by BAE Systems. The second winner was the Bull, a combined effort between Ideal Innovations Inc, Ceradyne and Oshkosh. Both of the winning designs weighed 40,000 lbs or more.
According to the Army Times, the Pentagon has already decided to buy first-generation 14- to 24-ton MRAP I vehicles with extra Frag Kit 6-derived armor, not the 30-ton MRAP II vehicles, when it places its final MRAP orders. Orders are expected at the end of summer in 2008 after a field commander's report on MRAP. The Army Times also reported the Pentagon may also buy some shorter, lighter MRAPs in their final batch. A senior Pentagon official told them that "the roads are caving in" under the weight of MRAPs and "We want it to weigh less than it weighs now.”
On 30 June 2009, the Department of Defense announced that Oshkosh Defense had been awarded a production contract for 2,244 MRAP All Terrain Vehicles (M-ATV) to address the immediate need for vehicles in Afghanistan. In October 2009, the first M-ATV were shipped to Afghanistan.
With the end of the Iraq War and the drawdown of the War in Afghanistan, there was some question as to what to do with MRAPs, as they were designed specifically for asymmetric warfare. The Army decided they would keep them in some sort of service post-war. Of the approximately 20,000 MRAPs in service, 30% (6,000) will stay in brigade combat teams as troop transports and route clearance vehicles, 10% (2,000) will be used for training, and 60% (12,000) will go into storage. MRAPs are to be superseded by the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle when it enters service in 2016. It still may be used until 2022, when the JLTV is in use in sufficient numbers.
On October 1, 2012, the Pentagon officially closed the MRAP production line. As of that date, 27,740 MRAP vehicles of all types had rolled off the assembly lines of seven manufacturers, and 12,726 vehicles were still in the Afghanistan theater of operations. About 870 were sold to foreign militaries, with 700 on foreign order.
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