MRAP

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MRAP
FPCougar.jpg
An MRAP Cougar HE tested in January 2007, with landmines detonating around it.
TypeArmored personnel carrier (wheeled)
Service history
In service2007–present[1]
Used by United States Armed Forces
International Security Assistance Force
WarsIraq, Afghanistan
Production history
Manufacturervarious
Specifications
Weight14+ tons
 
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MRAP
FPCougar.jpg
An MRAP Cougar HE tested in January 2007, with landmines detonating around it.
TypeArmored personnel carrier (wheeled)
Service history
In service2007–present[1]
Used by United States Armed Forces
International Security Assistance Force
WarsIraq, Afghanistan
Production history
Manufacturervarious
Specifications
Weight14+ tons

Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP; /ˈɛmræp/ EM-rap) vehicles are armored fighting vehicles used by various armed forces, whose designed purpose is surviving improvised explosive device (IED) attacks and ambushes. The first development in armored vehicles designed specifically to counter the land mine threat were initiated during the Rhodesian Bush War; existing technology was subsequently inherited (and matured) by the South African Defence Force after 1980.[2]

General information[edit]

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.[3][4] Kevin Fahey, U.S. Army Program Executive Officer for Command Support and Combat Service Support,[5] manages the Army MRAP program.[6] The Marine Corps had planned to replace all Humvees in combat zones with MRAP vehicles, although this appears to have changed.[7][8][9][10] 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,[11] so for fiscal year 2007 $1.1 billion is earmarked for MRAP.[12] 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[13] As of May 6, 2008 eight soldiers had been reported killed in the thousands of MRAPs in Iraq, according to news service Knight Ridder.[14]

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.[15] The Taliban is also focusing their efforts away from anti-material IEDs and more toward smaller anti-personnel bombs that target soldiers on patrol.[16]

This program is very similar to the United States Army's Medium Mine Protected Vehicle program.[17]

Design[edit]

Writing on the door of an MRAP reads "This truck saved my life as well as 5 others on 02 Apr 08 at 2300 C in Basrah, IZ."

MRAP vehicles usually have "V"-shaped hulls to deflect explosive forces originating below the vehicle, thereby protecting the vehicle and its passenger compartment.[citation needed] 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 specialized 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).[citation needed] However, the TSG/FPI Cougar (designed by a British-led U.S. team in 2004 for a U.S. Marine Corps requirement[citation needed]) became the springboard from which the MRAP program was launched.

Multiple contracts have been placed by the U.S. 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, to expedite the delivery of vehicles to deployed forces. However, there are only two steel mills in the U.S., Oregon Steel Mills and International Steel Group, qualified to produce steel armor for the Defense Department, which has been in negotiations to ensure enough steel is available to keep pace with production.[12] 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.

Orders[edit]

First MaxxPros fielded in Iraq
The last vehicle from Iraq returned to U.S. This vehicle arrived at the Port of Beaumont, Texas, Sunday, May 6th, 2012, and was unloaded from the ship on Monday, May 7th, 2012.[19]

MRAP deployment[edit]

The MRAP program was prompted by U.S. deaths in Iraq.[20] 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. [21] Partial list of orders under the MRAP program:

2008[edit]

2009[edit]

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.[39] By 2009 the US Department of Defence had spent $20 billion on the MRAP program.[40] Total MRAP program expenditure when final deliveries are accepted is expected to cost $48.5 billion (FY10-11).

Parallel programs[edit]

Orders of vehicles associated with the MRAP program:

Categories[edit]

American serviceman alongside his MRAP Cougar, Ramadi, Iraq, in 2008

The MRAP class is separated into three categories according to weight and size.

Category I (MRAP-MRUV)[edit]

The Mine-Resistant Utility Vehicle (MRUV) is smaller and lighter, designed for urban operations.

International MaxxPro Category 1 MRAP

Category 1 MRAP vehicles ordered or currently in service:

Category II (MRAP-JERRV)[edit]

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:

Category III[edit]

Criticism[edit]

The deployment of MRAP vehicles has not been without criticism. 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 appearance (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.)[55][56] 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.[57]

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 exiting the vehicle dangerous. Troops riding in the rear can hit their head on the ceiling while bouncing around in rough terrain. Medics told the Army Times that a soldier broke his neck after bouncing his head on 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.[58]

The MRAP has been well received in the field, where US troops have expressed their fondness for the MRAP, stating that they would prefer to be hit by an IED in an MRAP than a Humvee.[59] [60]

Rollovers and electric shock[edit]

A Caiman after rolling into a ditch.

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.[58][61]

Effectiveness[edit]

MRAP Cougar hit by a large IED in Iraq, all crew survived

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.[62] [63] In 2007, 11 percent of all roadside bomb fatalities were due to EFPs.[64] 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.[65] 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.[4] In July 2008 the U.S. military reported the number of EFP attacks had dropped by 70 percent.[66]

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 lb.[67] 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 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.[67][68][69][70] 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.[71]

Logistics[edit]

Mine resistant ambush protected vehicles (MRAP) are offloaded from the Military Sealift Command roll-on/roll-off ship USNS Pililaau (T-AKR 304) onto the pier.

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.[4] However, some analysts see the diversity of MRAP vehicles as an advantage.[72] Other criticisms include the vehicle's weight and size, which severely limit its mobility off main roads, in urban areas, and over bridges.[73] 72 percent of the world's bridges cannot hold the MRAP.[74] 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.[75] In an effort to rush more vehicles to the theater, the US Air Force contracted several Ukrainian Antonov An-124 heavy-cargo aircraft, which became a familiar sight above cities such as Charleston, South Carolina where some MRAPs are produced.[76] For comparison, sealifting costs around $13,000 per vehicle, but takes 3–4 weeks for the vehicle to arrive in theater.[77] In December 2007, the Marine Corps reduced its request from 3,700 vehicles to 2,300.[10] The Army is also reassessing its MRAP requirements in Iraq.[78][79] 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.[75]

MRAP II[edit]

A member of the United States Air Force stands in front of an MRAP in Southwest Asia.
Caiman mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles in Iraq.
External images
The Bull APC[dead link][80]

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.[81] 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.[82] Full text of the solicitation can be found.[83]

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).[84] 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 lb 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.[85] 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.”[86]

Plans to integrate developing technology[edit]

A RG-33 convoy with the Common Remotely Operated Weapon Station (CROWS) system installed.

There currently are plans to integrate the Crows II remote weapon station, the Frag Kit 6 anti-EFP armor, and the Boomerang anti-sniper system on many MRAPs in combat.

MRAP M-ATV[edit]

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.[87]

Post-war applications[edit]

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.[88]

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.[89]

In early July 2012, five MRAP vehicles were delivered to the 2nd Infantry Division in the Korean Peninsula. The 2ID tested over 50 vehicles to see how they would be used by American troops in the region and if their capabilities were right for Korea. The vehicles would enhance protection against tens of thousands to millions of mines buried along the Korean Demilitarized Zone. In addition to force protection, the MRAPs provided a platform for "mission command-on-the-move" to give commanders communications and command-and-control capabilities while moving across the battlefield. Most, if not all, of the MRAPs delivered in Korea were deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan and were refurbished in the U.S. Previous combat experiences would determine how to best use the vehicles in South Korea. Integration into 2ID formations was to take less than a year, with positioning on the front line the following year.[90] U.S. Military officials said the MRAPs were brought in to determine whether they would enhance their ability “to preserve peace and deter aggression on the Korean peninsula.” North Korean Military officials claimed they would be used to safely cross the DMZ to mount an all-out attack on the North, and said the forward deployment of such military hardware disturbed peace and stability in the region. However, by August 2013, the 2ID had decided not to utilize the over 80 MRAPs on the peninsula. They determined the vehicles were “not suitable for maneuver battalions to use” and that there are no plans to add MRAPs to their fleet in the foreseeable future. The vehicles were returned to the Army fleet management system for use in more suitable regions.[91]

Navistar Defense is pitching its MaxxPro MRAP as a vehicle that can be upgraded into a mobile command post or power generator. With budget cuts, the plan would allow the Army to get solutions they want from the existing fleet. At Association of the United States Army 2013, a version called the Mission Command on the Move (MCOTM) was displayed as a command post with monitors, computers, and antennae mounted in the back for communications and surveillance. Five passengers can monitor incoming information, see unmanned aerial vehicle feeds, and keep track of where units are operating. The vehicle has an on-board transmission-integrated power generator that can produce up to 120 kilowatts of exportable power, which eliminates the need for a towed trailer and can single-handedly power a semi-permanent tactical operations center. It would allow commanders to be connected to dismounted troops and headquarters while on the move. The MCOTM version will undergo testing at the Army's network integration evaluations in February 2014.[92][93]

The U.S. government is looking to sell about 2,000 out of the 11,000 MRAPs it has in Afghanistan. The logistical and financial task of bringing all the vehicles back to the U.S., or destroying some in-country, is too great and foreign buying are sought to take them. Several countries have reportedly shown interest but none have signed agreements. The cost of buying them would include shipping them out of Afghanistan themselves.[94] If the MRAPs cannot be sold to allies, U.S. forces will have to resort to destroying the vehicles before they leave the country. The quantities of MRAPs have been ruled as "in excess" of the needs of the U.S. military and would cost $50,000 per vehicle to ship them out of the country, and they won't be given to the Afghan National Security Forces because they can't maintain them or operate their electronic systems. The cost of destroying them would be $10,000 per vehicle.[95] The Pakistani Army has shown interest in acquiring former U.S. MRAPs, which could be driven right across the border and handed over to Pakistani forces. Pakistani soldiers are more vulnerable to IEDs in their current armored vehicles than they be in MRAP vehicles.[96]

Post-war reductions[edit]

As of September 2013, the U.S. Marine Corps had 3,700-3,800 MRAP vehicles. The service plans to reduce the numbers in their inventory to 1,200-1,300 due to sequestration budget cuts.[97]

8,700 Oshkosh M-ATV vehicles were purchased by the U.S. Army, U.S. Marine Corps, and U.S. Special Operations Command beginning in 2009 for use in Afghanistan. As part of the overall divesture of the wartime MRAP fleet, the U.S. government will keep about 5,600 M-ATVs, with some 250 vehicles for SOCOM.[98]

About 9,000 Navistar MaxxPro vehicles were bought by the Army from 2007 to 2011, and they plan to keep only about 3,000 of them.[92][93]

Following the drawdown from Afghanistan by the end of 2014, the U.S. Army will reduce its MRAP fleet to 8,000 vehicles.[94]

Law enforcement[edit]

FBI Mine Resistant Ambush vehicle.

United States Department of Homeland Security Rapid Response Teams have used MRAPs while assisting people affected by natural disasters such as hurricanes.[99][100] The Department of Homeland Security has also used MRAP-style vehicles while fighting illegal narcotics smuggling.[101] The Federal Bureau of Investigation used an MRAP-type vehicle in a kidnapping and hostage case in Midland, Alabama.[102]

Police departments inside the United States are acquiring MRAP vehicle through the 1033 program, which allows the Defense Department to redistribute equipment it no longer needs to state and municipal agencies. Rather than buying a new vehicle, which would cost $535,000-$600,000 to produce, some police departments like the Ohio State University Police Department have picked up surplus MRAPs from the Pentagon for free. By October 2013, nearly dozen departments in several states had acquired the armored vehicles. Domestic agencies plan to use them in disaster relief roles, as they can go through flooded areas unlike normal police armored vehicles, and to respond to terrorist threats, like playing a role in guarding sports stadiums. MRAPs used by police forces have the machine gun turret removed and are repainted from their original flat desert tan to black. Organizations have become critical about police use of military vehicles and worried about police militarization. Proponents of the domestic acquisitions say they fill the same role as the standard police Lenco BearCat armored vehicles which cost $200,000, while the MRAPs can be received for free.[103]

In early October 2013, the Northwest Regional SWAT team in Indiana received a BAE Caiman 6x6 MRAP. The armored vehicle will primarily be used for rescue situations. In a situation with a gunman, it could be put in between them and personnel. In a natural disaster situation like a flood or blizzard, the Caiman could drive through feet of water or snow and possibly rescue people trapped in their homes. The Caiman normally costs $412,000, but was obtained for no cost through a federal program to give surplus military equipment to law enforcement agencies. Northwest Regional SWAT was on a waiting list for over a year for a vehicle before receiving the Caiman.[104]

Since becoming available in the summer of 2013, 165 MRAP vehicles had been acquired by police and sheriff’s departments. The American Civil Liberties Union has concerns of "increasing militarization of the nation’s police," and that the military hardware could escalate violent situations. Many vehicles have been obtained by rural police with few officers or crime. Police have rejected the notion of militarization and maintain that an MRAP would be an addition to their inventory to be prepared for any situation, with the main purpose of protecting occupants. Police in Boise, Idaho used their vehicles to serve a warrant to a suspect that was thought to be armed, and was found with two guns and 100 lb (45 kg) of explosive material. One was placed in front of officers to protect from a possible explosion. The Albany County Sheriff's Department has received an MRAP, which will be used alongside military surplus Humvees that have already been used for storm evacuations and to pull downed trees. About 150 other surplus vehicles, including Humvees, are in use by police departments in situations that the MRAPs could be used in. 731 more MRAPs are requested for domestic use. Though the vehicles are obtained for free, they have drawbacks for law enforcement. Some types weigh as much as 18 tons, which limits mobility on certain bridges, roads, and uneven ground. Fuel efficiency can be as little as 5 miles per gallon. Refitting a vehicle with a closed turret, black paint, new seating, loudspeakers, and emergency lights can cost around $70,000.[105]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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