For more than three and a half years, the US military has ordered about 29000 MRAP category machines for a total of approximately 50 billions of dollars. Pictured Cougar Cat 1 4x4 (left) and MaxxPro Dash (right)
Honored lifesaver in asymmetrical Afghanistan. But what prepared life for MRAP machines in future, perhaps more symmetrical, scenarios of hostilities?
The acronym MRAP begins with the name of the program of the American Marine Corps on the machine with enhanced protection from mines and improvised explosive devices Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP), launched in 2006 year. Since its first appearance, the acronym MRAP has become a hackneyed generalized term for almost any wheeled vehicle with varying degrees of similar capabilities.
In everyday language, MRAP is now perhaps also well known (and incorrectly used by default) as JCB for a backhoe loader or a jeep for an SUV.
In the context of this article, MRAP is defined as one of five models (Caiman, Cougar, MaxxPro, RG-31, RG-33) ordered by the MRAP program, or one model ordered by a separate M-ATV military program (MRAP-All Terrain Vehicle) .
For these two programs over a period of more than three and a half years, the US military has ordered approximately 29000 machines worth 50 worth billions of dollars. Most (approximately 21000) MRAP machines were purchased by the marines, while the remaining 8722 machines were received by the army. The requirement for M-ATV was issued in 2009 year, it arose in connection with the chronic problems of the mobility of large MRAP machines in complex Afghan terrain.
In addition to these two programs, the US Army ordered about 1200 machines, the type of which was also identified as MRAP. In addition, she could have ordered more 3500 M1117 Armored Security Vehicle (ASV) armored personnel carriers from Textron Marine and Land Systems (TMLS), but ASV was a less successful competitor in the fight for MRAP requirements.
During the end of the fighting in Afghanistan, the US military quickly realized that the growing stocks of MRAP vehicles were potentially unnecessary (possibly due to the fact that they could not afford to keep them in service) and all this equipment would not be able to meet future operational needs. It was necessary to find a solution.
Ultimately, based on the results of the MRAP Study III study, approved by 14 March 2013, the army will now disassemble the 7456 MRAP machines and leave the 8585 machines of two original manufacturers, Navistar and Oshkosh. According to a previous study of MRAP Study II, which proved impossible to pay, it was proposed to leave the 16000 MRAP machines. Most of them will eventually be deposited in prepared warehouses around the world, and 1073 units will serve the purposes of training. The balance will be distributed between the operating units.
The Army will also refine the surplus MRAP category machines, specifically the RG-33L 6x6 from BAE Systems and the RG-31 Mk5E 4x4 from General Dynamics Land Systems Canada (GDLS-C) / BAE Systems, into a medium-protected mini-protected mass machine (MDT) machine, ) Type 1 (RG-33L) and Type 2 (RG-31) configurations. The RG-33, originally developed for the MRAP requirements, was selected in December 2007 of the year to meet the army's MMPV requirements.
In April 2008, an order was placed for the supply of an initial batch of 179 MMPV machines worth 132 million dollars. According to the MMPV announced-value program of 2288 billions of dollars, it is assumed that during the 2015 year, the American army’s engineering troops and explosives units will be procured up to the 2500 RG-33 machines (Panther designation).
In December, 2012, the company BAE Systems received an initial contract worth 37,6 million dollars for the revision of the 250 RG-33L machines in the MMPV configuration. The current requirements are 712 machines MMPV Type I (in three versions) and 894 machines MMPV Type 2.
The Marine Corps is currently planning to leave 2510 MRAP vehicles, initially defining its needs in 1231 units. The fleet will consist of machines from two manufacturers, General Dynamics Land Systems - Force Protection (GDLS-FP) and Oshkosh. The US Air Force will leave approximately 350 vehicles of three manufacturers, GDLS-FP, Navistar and Oshkosh. Number of machines for fleet unknown, but it is possible it will be a Cougar machine with a probable amount of several hundred.
Despite the number of vehicles left in service or converted to other tasks, exceeding the 13000 number, a huge number of MRAP machines purchased by the US military guarantee that there will be even more similar equipment in the surplus that will be stored in warehouses around the world.
A number of MRAP machines in Afghanistan were cut and sold locally as scrap metal, but later this practice was considered wrong and now the United States hopes that most MRAP surpluses can be transferred to the allies when the “buyer” pays only transportation costs.
Thus, the results are very ambiguous and the requested / delivered quantity remains rather modest compared to the currently available number of machines. But ask the United Arab Emirates 4569 MRAP machines (1150 Caiman from BAE Systems, 3375 MaxxPro machines in different configurations) and 44 M-ATV, stocks of equipment will be greatly reduced. What is important, any deal with the UAE, including upgrades, could be worth roughly a billion dollars for the US for 2,5.
Countries that received surplus MRAP, with the exception of rented and displaced vehicles during combat operations
African Union: 20 M-ATV
Burundi: 10 Cougar
Croatia: 213 Cougar, M-ATV, MaxxPro
Djibouti: 15 Cougar
Georgia: 10 Cougar Cat II
Iraq: 250 Caiman
Pakistan: 22 MaxxPro (more 160 requested)
Poland: 45 M-ATV
Uganda: 10 Cougar
Uzbekistan: 328 Cougar, M-ATV, MaxxPro
About 80% of Oshkosh M-ATV’s total 8722 will be left. This is the largest percentage of all MRAP models.
In addition to the machines that are stored as MRAP, the US Army will also redo the surplus RG-33L 6x6 and RG-31Mk5E 4x4 in the MMPV Type 1 (RG-33L) and Type 2 (RG-31) configuration
Preliminary calculations showed that by the end of 2016, the army would spend about 1,7 a billion dollars to rebuild and upgrade the MRAP vehicles left in service to the relevant general standard.
Calculations for the start of the 2014 of the year suggest that the cost of returning and restoring each MRAP machine can range from 250000 to 300000 dollars. According to some sources, these figures still need to be confirmed, the volume of recovery is currently insufficient to give reliable estimates.
From the 8585 MRAP machines that the army retains, the 5651 machine (including the 250 for command of special operations forces) is the Oshkosh M-ATV. If we also take into account the cars left by other branches of the armed forces, then approximately 80% of the 8722 of the supplied M-ATV machines will remain in operation. This is the largest percentage of all MRAP models.
M-ATV cars were delivered in two basic versions. The base model received the designation M1240, the M1240A1 version is equipped with the modernization kit for the lower part of the housing Underbody Improvement Kit (UIK) and the OGPK inhabited turret (Objective Gunner Protection Kit), and the M1277 version is equipped with the M153 CROWS remotely controlled weapon module. A special option for special operations forces received the designation M1245, and it is with the installed set of UIK - M1245A1. Modernization of the X-NUMX M-ATV machines to a common standard is currently being carried out at the Oshkosh plant in Wisconsin and at the Red River Army plant.
Oshkosh Company in August 2014 received the initial contract for the restoration of X-NUMX machines M-ATV. Three additional options on 500 machines each were issued in December 100. The total contract value is estimated at 2014 million dollars; Some sources claim that upgrading one machine is currently below the planned cost. Deliveries are in full swing and will continue until the end of September 77.
The restoration work is aimed at returning the machines to the LRIP 22 initial production standard (Low Rate Initial Production). In fact, this is the standard for the latest production batch of M-ATVs. LRIP 22 includes the installation of a UIK kit and an advanced automatic fire extinguishing system. As part of the modernization, several technical proposals were also implemented, which include the reduction of sound signatures (silencer), a modular ammunition attachment system, and the reassembly of a part of the equipment supplied by government orders.
By offering Bushmaster from Thales and Alpha from Protected Vehicles Inc, Oshkosh may have lost one of the parts of the original MRAP contract, but as the only M-ATV supplier today, the company received a contract worth over 6,6 a billion dollars.
With its MaxxPro, Navistar secured the bulk of the MRAP contracts from the Marine Corps (actually almost 50%) with a total value of approximately 13 billion dollars. From 2007 to 2011, Navistar delivered MaxxPro 8780 machines in several configurations. This number includes 390 technical assistance vehicles, but does not include Xashi Dash machines delivered to Singapore and Xashi Dash DXM machines delivered to South Korea and coalition forces in Afghanistan (15 Dash DXM). If you add 10 independent DXM, 80 independent frameless chassis plus other numerous upgrades (apart from any post-Afghan upgrades), Navistar has earned roughly 1872 billion dollars in the MaxxPro business.
More than 35% of MaxxPro machines supplied earlier will be stored, which makes it the second largest contributor to the post-Afghan inventories and the only original MRAP that the army has left as it is.
Some sources believe that the decision of the army to leave MaxxPro and not other models were influenced by feedback from users and tests by MaxxPro with the MaxxPro Survivability Upgrade (MSU) installed, which confirmed its excellent survivability compared to other options. In addition, the Pentagon's annual report of the 2011 of the Year, in terms of operational tests and combat shooting, states that the MaxxPro Dash DXM is efficient and reliable from an operational point of view, since its average mileage to failure is 1259 miles, which is more than twice performance requirements in 600 miles.
MaxxPro machines left 2934 will be in two main configurations, MaxxPro Dash DXM (2633 machines) and MaxxPro LWB (long wheelbase) DXM Ambulance (301 machine). Work to restore to a common standard is currently being carried out at Navistar's West Point and Fort Bliss facilities and at the Red River plant.
According to the plan, the Red River plant currently leads approximately 1000 M1235 Dash DXM machines of various configurations to the two standards M1235A4 and M1235A5. The M1235A4 version in the “fire support armored vehicle” configuration will be equipped with an OGPK manned turret, while the M1235A5 turret is equipped with the M153 CROWS combat weapon module.
Another area of work to upgrade is to restore machines to the standard LRIP 21, which, in fact, is the standard for the final production batch of Dash DXM. Additional work includes the installation of a MSU survivability kit plus a number of other upgrades that include reconfiguration of storage sites, improved capabilities associated with the on-board information management system, and installation of electronic stability control. For modernization at the Red River plant, the vehicles will return from foreign locations and, after modernization, the army will be delivered in Condition Code A (as new).
Navistar is currently carrying out a contract to upgrade the Dash DXM 477 machines at its plant in West Point; work on them is identical to work carried out at the Red River factory. Navistar will also convert the 301 (plus seven prototypes) MXXUM MaxxPro LWB DXM machine to the M1266A1266 MaxxPro LWB DXM sanitary configuration. Recovery work includes the installation of an MSU kit, a revision to the sanitary version, the installation of electronic stability control, plus several other specific modifications. Donor machines were originally purchased in the configuration of LWB MaxxPro / MaxxPro Plus (with continuous bridges), 1 of them were upgraded with new rolling chassis equipped with independent DXM suspension.
More than 35% of MaxxPro machines delivered earlier will be saved, which makes it the second-largest “contributor” to the post-Afghan inventories and the only original MRAP that the army has left as it is
The Marine Corps will leave the MRAP 2510 machines in two versions, including the Cougar from GDLS-FP. This Cougar CAT II 6x6 is equipped with independent suspension Oshkosh TAK-4
Under a separate contract, Navistar will finalize the Dash DXM 489 machines in Fort Bliss to Fully Mission Capable (FMC) full readiness configuration. This number does not include training machines that have not been deployed in foreign contingents, they have deviations that do not allow to finance the restoration of these machines. With the exception of some cosmetic improvements between FMC Dash DXM configuration machines returned to users from Fort Bliss and upgraded machines returned from Red River or West Point, there will be no differences in configuration and performance. The machines currently planned with Navistar are scheduled to be made on schedule by October 2016 of the year. A total of approximately MaxxPro 2274 machines must undergo a process of standardization or restoration, including approximately 1000 machines that need to be restored to the Red River. The remaining approximately 660 machines will be included in the contract upon return from abroad.
The United States Air Force also keeps MaxxPro for itself, since the army handed them 163 fire support vehicles to the MaxxPro LWB DXM. They were also taken from those 580 machines that were upgraded with new chassis with independent DXM suspension.
All in the sea
In June, the Marine Corps 2014 more than doubled its original MRAP requirements, from 1231 (490 M-ATV, 713 Cougar, 28 Buffalo Mine Protected Clearance Vehicle [MPCV]) to 2510 machines. If we take into account the well-known aversion of the hull to everything that hinders its traditional expeditionary role, then this increase is very interesting. Here, some sources are of the opinion that the decision was determined more by external pressure than by real desire.
The body will leave two variants of the MRAP, the M-ATV from Oshkosh and the Cougar from GDLS-FP, plus a smaller number of Buffalo machines.
Modernization is carried out in the workshops of the Marine Corps in California and Georgia, some of the machines being modernized in the Red River. The corps received the right to lead controller of the entire Cougar fleet, a smaller part of which will be left to the Air Force and the US Navy.
The purpose of the Marine Corps is to upgrade its fleet by providing additional funding for expeditionary operations before it ends in the 2017 year. The housing standard for restoration is classified as IROAN - “inspection and repair should be carried out only if necessary”: the machine is disassembled, parts and assemblies are repaired and replaced only when necessary, then the machine is assembled. Any missing modifications are also determined during the upgrade. The condition of the upgraded machine will be certified as Condition Code A (new).
As part of its modernization work, the Marine Corps issued two contracts to the GDLS-FP consortium. The 26 million dollar contract, issued in February 2014, provides for the development and production of 468 Seat Survivability Upgrade (SSU) seat kits for the Cat II 6x6 Cougar, while the March 2014 contract worth 74,6 million dollars for the development and production of 916 upgrade kits for Cat I and II Cougar.
In order to improve the driving skills of British soldiers on MRAP vehicles, special courses were organized at the Driver Training School in Leconfield; Mastiff 1 in the photo during the training course
Throughout the Afghan company, several thousand secure machines, including MRAP and M-ATV, were loaned and / or donated by US military coalition forces. Others (for example, Germany with Dingo) chose to develop their own MRAP class projects, while some (for example, Spain with RG-31) chose to purchase models tested by the US military. In all cases, the number of cars never exceeded thousands and was closely related to the intensity of participation in the Afghan company.
Given this, it is not surprising that the second largest after the US Army British Army currently has the largest fleet of MRAP vehicles. In the 2006-2011, the British Department of Defense ordered a little more than 750 units, this figure is close to 800, if we also consider the 30 Marine Corps machines for training and 14 Buffalo MPCV. In the MRAP class, the UK chose the Cougar in three specialized versions: Ridgback 4x4, Mastiff 6x6 and Wolfhound 6x6. In order to meet British requirements (including improvements in protection), a large amount of work was done on these machines before being sent to Afghanistan at the plant of the then NP Aerospace company. Most of the fleet is Mastiff machines, which were supplied with 451 in three successively improved versions: Mastiff 1 (108), Mastiff 2 (198) and Mastiff 3 (145). Wolfhound is essentially based on the Mastiff 3 configuration, which has a Mastiff cabin with two rows of seats; The main task of Wolfhound is to provide support for the Mastiff and Ridgback machines and towing a 105-mm light gun. For two orders were delivered three options, universal (81), with a set of neutralization of explosive objects (39) and tractor (MWD) (5).
In the middle of 2013, the British Department of Defense confirmed that under a ten-year 2,2 contract worth a billion dollars, along with a fleet of roughly 570 selected protected machines purchased for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, 169 Mastiff machines and 430 Wolfhounds machines would be left.
After the competition in April 2014, it was announced that the defense department was given a contract to a consortium headed by Morgan Advanced Materials-Composites and Defense Systems (formerly NP Aerospace) to perform 20 service with more than base cougar. The deal is for two years, but cannot be extended for another seven years. The initial value of the contract is 20 million pounds.
After delays due to the loser’s rival’s protests, the contract to modernize the British Cougar fleet in September 2014 was confirmed for General Dynamics Land Systems - Force Protection Europe (GDLS-FPE).
There are few details about this contract, we only know that the number of serviced vehicles is 240 units. Today, limited funding allows only partial modernization of the fleet, such as: installation of modern means of communication in some machines, partial refinement for other tasks, and upgrading of the early Mastiff 1 and Mastiff 2 models. According to one of the high-ranking military officials, some departments of the Ministry of Defense insist on implementing a capacity building strategy that goes beyond the current revision contract. Such a solution would allow to fully optimize the British fleet of protected machines, which have proven themselves well in Afghanistan, under the most likely future operational scenarios. It is clear that the most vulnerable point (and well-known) of the entire fleet of vehicles is its overall mobility. For example, all five MRAP models purchased by the US Marine Corps (Caiman, Cougar, RG-31, RG-33 and MaxxPro) were supplied with continuous bridges and leaf springs. The advantage of this basic configuration is the good maintainability of the machine, which was damaged after the explosion. However, on the other hand, this configuration seriously impairs the mobility of protected machines.
The US military quickly realized the flaws in the mobility of their fleet, when operational accents were shifted from Iraq to more difficult and difficult terrain in Afghanistan. All the forces were thrown at this task and it was implemented as soon as possible.
From the very beginning, the M-ATV project was focused on developing machines with protection comparable to the protection of the original MRAP category cars, but with significantly improved off-road maneuverability. The M-ATV is equipped with an Oshkosh TAK-4 independent suspension. In parallel with the development and purchase of M-ATV, a program was launched to modernize the entire fleet of MRAP vehicles by installing an independent suspension. For example, the TAK-4 independent suspension was installed almost on the Cougar 3000 machines.
Compared with the suspension, consisting of a continuous bridge and leaf springs, independent suspension on the same machines in addition to the general advantages of movement, control and even braking can also increase the speed on difficult terrain in two or three times. Another advantage of the TAK-4 system is that it is tested with a centralized tire pressure control system. Understanding clearly the limitations of mobility imposed by the outdated Cougar suspension, in 2010, the Department of Defense evaluated two possible ways to modernize the suspension of British vehicles. Some machines were equipped with Ridgback suspension TAK-4 from Oshkosh, while others modified parabolic leaf springs from the company Ricardo. For unknown reasons, none of the systems was adopted, but this could be due to the already purchased large inventory stocks of spare parts for the original suspension.
Based on the fact that future operating conditions (regarding mobility) will undoubtedly be more complicated than conditions in Afghanistan, and also due to the well-known current park restrictions, the Ministry of Defense recently launched a new test series of the Ridgback machine equipped with a TAK-4 suspension.
No other details have been provided, but it is known that the modernization of the suspension is currently not funded, although some sources point out that the problems with the mobility of machines are the cause of heated debate between the planning authorities.
To improve the deployment and overall combat effectiveness of the British Cougar fleet would allow other upgrades (currently not funded). These include the installation of an overpressure system from chemical, biological, radiation damage factors and the installation of a hydraulic front door drive, which is already available on Mastiff 3 / Wolfhound, Ridgback and Mastiff 2 machines; The Mastiff 1 chassis does not have such a doorway.
Knowing about mobility limitations, the Ministry of Defense in 2010 conducted an assessment of two possible ways to modernize the suspension of the British MRAP and Ridgback vehicles. They were equipped with Oshkosh TAK-4 suspension and Ricardo parabolic leaf springs.
The conservation work of several thousand repaired MRAP machines requires an elaborate approach; It should not boil down to simply parking them in large hangars. All those who left their car for a long period know that it is often not just to close the door and leave. At the very least, some other procedures are needed if you want the car to start from the first turn of the key upon return. Everything is quite simple, despite the obviously difficult operating conditions, the army vehicles are no different and, without very careful preparation and organization of the storage process, they will lose their performance from the moment they take their place.
To solve this storage problem, the Marine Corps in October 2012 of the year issued a contract to Transhield worth 4,5 million dollars for 3700 covers to protect its MRAP machines.
In November 2013 of the year, it was announced that Transhield received a contract worth 8,3 million dollars for the supply of covers for more than 4500 MRAP machines of the American army. In October, Transhield announced 2014 that it had completed the delivery of 350 MRAP protective covers for the USAF, the order included the production of covers for 163 MaxxPro machines, 91 Oshkosh M-ATV machines and 96 CAT II Cougar 6XXNNUMX machines.
Without careful preparation and organization, the cars will start to age from the moment they are parked and left.
Transhield protective covers are a completely self-contained solution, since they do not need an external power source or an air dryer, and if necessary they can be used outdoors. Covers are manufactured using proprietary vapor corrosion inhibitor (VCI) technology, which works inside the case itself. The fabric of the case releases “as a pair” the VCI molecule; it chemically binds a metal surface and interferes with the electrochemical reaction that causes corrosion. Moisture is "brought out", reducing the relative humidity. Corrosion can be reduced by 90%.
Looking at the many thousands of MRAP vehicles in the “one neat owner / low mileage” condition available from surplus US forces, and cost almost equal to the cost of transportation to the buyer, many might think that the new MRAP market was almost depleted. In this regard, it can be noted that this is not the case and while the surplus, of course, has a significant impact on the market, the relatively high level of development and sales of MRAP machines is maintained.
Pakistan and Hungary are examples of those countries that stopped developing local cars and preferred vehicles from the surplus of the American army. The opposite point of view is held by the Czech Republic, which has now started a competition for the 62 new MRAP machines. The competitors here were the Nexter TITUS based on the TATRA chassis and the SVОS based on the TATRA chassis. South Korea has also recently developed an MRAP based on the TATRA stern frame chassis.
Also, the companies from Namibia Windhoeker Maschmen-fabrik (WMF) and BAE Systems from South Africa showed at the African Aerospace & Defense (AAD) exhibition in 2014 new low-cost solutions in the MRAP class based on IVECO. The German company RMMV (in cooperation with the Austrian Achleitner) is actively promoting a car based on the MAN TGM truck.
Turkish BMC has recently re-started production of Kirpi MRAP, Singapore has ordered (already in service with Navistar's MaxxPro) a batch of Renault Higuard MRAPs, while Saudi Armored Vehicles & Heavy Equipment Factory offers the Tuwaiq MRAP, one of several MRAP projects based on the FGA 14,5 chassis from Mercedes-Benz.
At the mention of machines category MRAP can not ignore the company Streit. The company virtually at every defense exhibition presents a new product. In addition to the recognized Shrek and Typhoon machines (the latter quickly became the preferred MRAP machine for Africa), Streit recently introduced the MRAP Fiona 6x6 and Hurricane 8x8 category machines based on KRAZ.
With the exception of those machines that the United States does not approve for delivery, the reasons behind this ongoing widespread and diversified development of MRAP are broad and diverse in themselves. In some cases, they will be based on the desire to have a product to support a local manufacturing base. In addition, the uniformity of the park, training and already established qualifications of local staff also play a role here.
There is another reason for not having such a long queue for free cheese. Without training and without a guarantee of any lifelong support, especially for those MRAP category cars that are not left in service with the Americans, gifts can actually become a hindrance very quickly.