Tuesday, November 27, 2007


MRAP (armored vehicle)
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FPI Cougar HE in testingMine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles are a family of armored fighting vehicles designed to survive IED attacks and ambushes. IEDs cause the majority (63%) of US deaths in Iraq.[1] There is no common design; there are several vendors, each with a competing entry.[2] Brig. General Michael Brogan of the United States Marine Corps is in charge of the MRAP program, for which the Marines are the lead service.[3] The Marine Corps plan to replace all HMMWVs in combat zones with MRAP vehicles.[4] As armored vehicles are considered an "urgent need" in Iraq and Afghanistan, this program is primarily funded under an "emergency war budget". On May 8, 2007 Defense Secretary Robert Gates stated that the acquisition of MRAPs are the Department of Defense highest priority, [5] so for fiscal year 2007 US$1.1 billion is earmarked for MRAP .[6]

Several criticisms of the MRAP program have been its lack of a common design, which presents a wartime logistical challenge, its inability to withstand EFP attacks, and the relatively few number of units which have been delivered to Iraq and Afghanistan, despite large orders.[7] However, some analysts see the diversity of MRAP vehicles as an advantage.[8]

This program is very similar to the US Army's Medium Mine Protected Vehicle program.[9]

1 Design
2 Orders
2.1 MRAP Program
2.2 Parallel Programs
3 Categories
3.1 Category 1 (MRAP-MRUV)
3.2 Category 2 (MRAP-JERRV)
3.3 Category 3
4 Criticisms
4.1 Effectiveness
6 Sources
7 See also
8 External links

[edit] Design
MRAP vehicles are usually built with a "V" shaped hull that assists deflection of a mine or IED blast away from the vehicle's interior keeping the passengers safe and the vehicle intact. This design dates to the 1970s when it was first implemented by South African company, Land Systems OMC, in the Casspir vehicle. Derivatives of these vehicles have since been used by various military forces around the world.

A variety of 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 armor steel for the Defense Department, which has been in negotiations to ensure enough steel is available to keep pace with production.[10] The concept is to replace Humvee type vehicles with a more robust, survivable vehicle when on patrol "outside the wire".

Designs were submitted by the following companies.

Armor Holdings (which announced its purchase by BAE Systems on 7 May 2007)[11]
BAE Systems
Force Protection Inc
General Dynamics Land Systems
General Purpose Vehicles
International Truck and Engine Corporation
Oshkosh Truck
Protected Vehicles Incorporated
Textron Marine and Land Systems
Although early orders were placed with many of the contenders (see below), as of 18 October 2007, only International, Force Protection, and BAE remain in the competition for additional orders.[12]

[edit] Orders

First MaxxPros fielded in Iraq
[edit] MRAP Program
Just in 2007, the Pentagon has ordered the production of about 6,400 MRAPs at a cost of over US$500,000 each, and the Pentagon plans to order more MRAPs. [13] Partial list of orders under the MRAP program:

On January 30, 2007, FPI received an order for 2 Cougar H and 2 Cougar HE vehicles for testing and evaluation by the USMC for the MRAP program.[14]
On February 14, the Marine Corps Systems Command placed a US$67.4 million delivery order for 65 Category I Cougar H, and 60 Category II Cougar HE vehicles,[15] as well as a US$55.4 million delivery order 15 Category I BAE RG-33 vehicles, and 75 Category II BAE RG-33L vehicles, built in York, Pennsylvania.
On April 24, the Marine Corps Systems Command placed a USD $481.4 million order with Force Protection for 300 Category 1 Cougar H vehicles and 700 Category II Cougar HEs.[16]
On May 31, the Marine Corps Systems Command ordered 1200 Category 1 International MaxxPros at a cost of $623M.[17]
On June 1, FPI received an order for 14 Category III Buffalo vehicles from the Marine Corps Systems Command. The contract is worth an approximate US$11.9 million and is scheduled for completion by spring 2008.[18]
On June 19, the Navy placed an order on behalf of the Marine Corps and Army for 395 Category 1, 60 Category 2 Force Protection Cougars at a cost of US$221 million, and for 16 Category 2 International MaxxPro XLs for the sum of US$8 million.[19]
On June 28, amended July 16, BAE received a US$235.8 million order for 16 RG-33 Category I patrol vehicles, 239 RG-33L Category II vehicles, 170 RG-33 Cat I variants for the United States Special Operations Command, out of their total allotment of 333 vehicles, and 16 RG-33L Category II Ambulance variants, which are the first vehicles in the competition specifically listed for the ambulance role.[20][21]
On July 13, Stewart & Stevenson (Armor Holdings) received an order for 1,154 Category I and 16 Category II MRAP vehicles from the Marine Corps Systems Command. The vehicles are for delivery by February 2008 and the order is worth US$518.5 million.[22]
On July 20, IMG received an additional order for 755 Cat I MaxxPro MRAP vehicles. [23]
On August 6, General Dynamics Land Systems received an order for 600 MRAP Cat II RG-31 vehicles. The contract is worth $338.7 USD. Manufacturing will be done by the Demmer Corporation of Lansing, MI, in addition to BAE OMC of Benoni, South Africa. Deliveries will be completed by March, 2008. [24] [25]
On August 10, the Marine Corps Systems Command placed a USD $69.8m order with Force Protection for 25 Category 1 Cougar H vehicles and 100 Category II Cougar HEs.[26]
On October 18, the Pentagon placed additional orders for 1,000 Category I vehicles from IMG ($509M), 533 Category I and 247 Category II vehicles from Force Protection ($377M), and 399 standard Category II, 112 ambulance configured Category II RG-33L vehicles ($278M) from BAE Systems. BAE also received a separate $44M order for 89 RG33 Mod 5 (Category I) vehicles, for the US Special Operations Command. GDLS and Armor Holdings were informed that they will receive no further orders in the MRAP program.[27][28]

[edit] Parallel Programs
Orders of vehicles associated with the MRAP program:

On June 19, 2007 the US Army ordered an additional 44 BAE RG-31 Mk 5 vehicles and an additional 369 M1117 ASVs.[29]

[edit] Categories
The MRAP class is separated into three categories which describe the vehicle's weight class and size.

[edit] Category 1 (MRAP-MRUV)
The Mine Resistant Utility Vehicle (MRUV) is smaller and lighter, designed for urban operations.

International MaxxPro Category 1 MRAPCategory 1 MRAP vehicles ordered or currently in service:

Armor Holdings Caiman - 1,154 ordered for delivery by February 8, 2008.[30][31][32]
BAE OMC RG-31[33]
BAE RG-33 4x4[34]
Force Protection Cougar H 4x4 - 1200 vehicles ordered. [35][36]
International MaxxPro - Two Cat 1 prototypes delivered,[37] 3,000 vehicles ordered. [38][39][40]
Textron M1117 Guardian - Removed from competition. As of May 18, 2007, has been notified by the USMC that they will not be receiving any additional orders as part of the MRAP program.[41]
Protected Vehicles Inc./Oshkosh Truck Alpha - Although 100 vehicles were initially ordered, OshKosh were notified by the Marine Corps on June 29, that they would receive no further orders for the PVI Alpha due to "concern regarding overall vehicle survivability" and other fundamental design deficiencies of an automotive and ergonomic nature, adding that remediation "would require significant redesign".[42][43]

[edit] Category 2 (MRAP-JERRV)
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 2 MRAP vehicles ordered or currently in service:

Force Protection Cougar HE 6x6 � 950 vehicles ordered.[44]
BAE RG-33L 6x6
GDLS RG-31E � 600 vehicles order.[1]
Oshkosh Truck/Thales Australia Bushmaster IMV - Has been removed from the competition as of August 7, 2007. According to a Thales press release, "The Thales Bushmaster vehicle offer for the US MRAP Phase 1 Program was not selected due to an evolving requirement, not due to a lack of marketing or lobbying effort…. Thales and OSHKOSH remain confident of future potential sales of Bushmaster under ongoing Phases of MRAP in the US."[45]
Protected Vehicles Inc Golan Armored Vehicle
International MaxxPro XL - 16 vehicles ordered.[46]
Armor Holdings Caiman - 16 vehicles ordered [47]

[edit] Category 3
Force Protection Buffalo

[edit] Criticisms
The rapid deployment of MRAP vehicles has not been without criticisms. The most common are concerns about the high cost, potential logistical difficulties due to high fuel consumption and varied designs, and greater disconnection between troops and the local population, which conflicts with the current counter-insurgency (COIN) strategy, and how the vehicles will fit into the US Military structure following a US withdrawal from the current conflict in Iraq.[48][49] MRAP funding has pulled money away from other tactical vehicle programs, most noticeably the HMMWV replacement, the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, which has been delayed by two years.[50] The MRAP has been well received in the field however where soldiers are grateful for a vehicle designed around their needs.[51]

[edit] Effectiveness
The MRAP may not be effective against Explosively Formed Penetrators (EFP), which use a shaped charge to form a hypervelocity jet of metal, capable of cutting through thick armor. Use of EFPs more than doubled in 2006 and is expected to continue to increase.[52] [53] 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.[54] 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 HMMWV's IED defeating Frag Kit 6 armor, which adds significant weight, as well as width to the already large and heavy vehicle.[55]

[edit] MRAP II
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.[56] In addition, the new solicitation will 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.[57] Full text of the solicitation can be found here.

Ceradyne announced the introduction of the Ceradyne Bull, a vehicle designed to compliment the MRAP and MMPV programs, on June 7, 2007 .[58] This vehicle differs from most existing MRAP vehicles in that it claims to be able to defeat Explosively Formed Penetrator type IEDs.[59] On July 27, OshKosh announced an agreement with Ceradyne Inc. and Ideal Innovations Inc. to develop the Bull on a current combat-proven OshKosh chassis.[60] Both 6-man (category 1) and 10-man (category 2) Bulls were delivered to Aberdeen Test Center in October 2007 as OshKosh Trucks' official MRAP II proposal.[61] See a picture of the Ceradyne Bull here.
Bogged down in an urban counterinsurgency in Iraq, the US military discusses its post-Iraq future and the potential acquisition of Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles.

By Peter Buxbaum in Washington, DC for ISN Security Watch (20/11/07)

The first half of 2003 was, for some, the heyday of US military operations in Iraq. To a large extent, it has been downhill ever since.

On 20 March that year, US and UK forces executed a classic military invasion of Iraq. Within three weeks, Iraqi conventional forces were defeated, the Iraqi government was deposed and Baghdad was occupied by US troops.

On 1 May, President George W Bush declared an end to conventional military operations under the banner of the now-infamous slogan, "Mission Accomplished."

But the US soon learned that military decisiveness would not spell victory in Iraq. The war the US military had been organized and trained to win - fast paced, mechanized and expeditionary - turned out to be ill-suited for counterinsurgency operations on complex urban terrain.

Thirty-five years ago, in the aftermath of the Vietnam War, the US military vowed never again to get bogged down in a static, counterinsurgency operation. Yet that is precisely the kind of war it now faces in Iraq. Some futurists want the US military to adopt its post-Vietnam stance again once it leaves Iraq.

MRAP: US military's post-Iraq future
The post-Iraq future of the US military is currently being discussed in an unusual context: whether and to what extent the US military should acquire Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles. With improvised explosive devices (IEDs) now accounting for two-thirds of US fatalities in Iraq, the Pentagon is considering investing as much as US$25 billion to procure more than 20,000 of these vehicles.

Why? Because these heavy, lumbering trucks are best suited to protect troops from IEDs. Their height and weight shield the troops sequestered inside and their V-shaped undercarriage deflects the force of an IED blast away from the underbody of the vehicle.

But the magnitude of the Pentagon's proposed procurement raises the issue of whether MRAPs are to become a permanent feature of the US arsenal and what the implications are if they do.

Protecting US forces in Iraq has lately become the holy grail of US politicians and the Pentagon brass. At a hearing of the Armed Services Committee of the US House of Representatives earlier this month, one congressman made a point of expressing displeasure with the Pentagon's effort in that regard.

"I have not been satisfied with the response of this administration to the force protection needs of our troops," said Representative Gene Taylor, a Democrat from Mississippi.

But John Young, the Pentagon's director of defense research and engineering, countered Taylor's criticism by asserting that the US Department of Defense and its industry partners "have aggressively pursued one objective: to get as many [MRAPs] to our soldiers and marines in the field as is possible in the next several months."

Representatives of MRAP manufacturers also appeared before the committee to assure the congressmen that their companies had the capability to produce as many MRAPs as needed.

What was left unsaid was what was to become of the MRAPs once the US left Iraq. Some military futurists would like the US to renew its post-Vietnam vow not to get bogged down in static urban warfare and to reassert its expeditionary posture. MRAPs, designed to protect troops patrolling urban areas, would be excess baggage under that scenario. Conversely, the presence of MRAPs could influence the shape of future US military doctrine.

Contradictory counterinsurgency
More immediately, the MRAP acquisition raises another issue: whether the MRAP could compromise the US counterinsurgency in Iraq by enclosing US personnel behind a thick wall of armor.

The deployment of MRAPs seems to run counter to the US military's new counterinsurgency doctrine, noted Dakota Wood, a retired US Marine Corps lieutenant colonel and now a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments in Washington.

That doctrine "encourages soldiers and marines to get out of their vehicles and walk," Wood told ISN Security Watch. This, "in order to establish close relationships with the population to obtain the intelligence they need to locate and defeat the insurgents.

"Troops traveling in heavily armored vehicles may be less likely to establish close relationships with local populations," Wood added. "Those relationships are needed to provide tips on insurgents and where bombs may be buried."

A diluted intelligence effort, in turn, could actually increase casualties.

Contrary to the understandable concerns of the politicians, force protection is often in a position of tension with mission accomplishment.

"Force protection is not an end in itself," according to a 2006 report from the US Defense Science Board. "It may well be that exposing both combat and supporting forces to greater risk will result in a more rapid achievement of the mission and thus fewer casualties in the long run."

That proposition led Wood to conclude that "the MRAP offers the prospect of reducing casualties, thereby satisfying a moral imperative. But MRAPs may accomplish this at the expense of accomplishing the mission."

The biggest question surrounding the MRAP is what will happen when US forces ultimately leave Iraq.

"Will they effectively be saddled with the trucks if there is no mission that requires them?" Wood asked.

"The longer-term value of MRAPs is even less clear as US ground forces orient themselves toward more of an expeditionary posture. While some MRAPs are probably needed in theater, an analysis justifying crash, mass production of MRAPs appears to be lacking."

If in fact there is no clear use for the MRAP after Iraq, they "would be an expensive, disposable vehicle, a million-dollar Kleenex," said Wood. "The armed services are routinely criticized for fighting the last war, yet some MRAP advocates seem to propose that the current enemy is a template for all future enemies."

Course correction
But the notion that the post-Iraq US military will be able to confine itself to quick, expeditionary operations and avoid urban quagmires is wishful thinking, according to some.

"We tried to walk away from counterinsurgency 35 years ago but it has come back," said Wallace Gregson, a retired US Marine Corps general. "It is not confined to Iraq and it is not going to go away until we prove it is no longer viable.

"I agree that we need to restore our expeditionary posture, to resume global patrolling," Gregson told ISN Security Watch, adding, "I agree that we need to be able to get to other regions of the world and engage other nations and regions than is possible at the moment."

Any posture the future US military assumes must be influenced by the actions of its enemies, Gregson asserted. "Any exposed flank will be exploited by an enemy," he said. "Clever enemies will pull us away from our preferred expeditionary posture into a close urban fight."

As such, Gregson views the MRAP as a survivable fighting base like a ship. "It is a combat support platform for small units engaged in an urban fight against an irregular enemy," he said.

"There will always be a requirement to engage in small-scale urban fights," agreed Robert Killebrew, a retired US Army colonel, in an interview with ISN Security Watch, "usually to cover mistakes in foreign policy or intelligence."

Killebrew advocates building as many MRAPs as the US military requires now and later turning them over to regional allies.

But Killebrew, while agreeing with Gregson that it is unrealistic to confine US military planning to fighting only quick expeditionary operations, goes beyond the conventional wisdom to advocate a complete course correction for the future US military orientation.

For Killebrew, an expeditionary posture is overrated. Moreover, regarding the early 2003 Iraq operation as an example of expeditionary warfare success is a mistake because of the ultimate failure to achieve that coalition's stated political objective of establishing a stable, democratic Iraq.

"It has been a colossal failure," he said. "Being militarily decisive in warfare doesn't matter. We won every battle in Vietnam."

The future posture of the US military should be neither expeditionary nor static, according to Killebrew. He wants US policy to concentrate on enabling regional players with the most at stake to do the fighting, while the US provides materiel and advice.

"That should be the centerpiece of the next military strategy of the United States," he said. "The concepts of expeditionary warfare developed in the 1990s represented a surge of energy after the end of the Cold War. After Iraq, we should be settling back to building alliances and coalitions and doing the other things we have to do to keep our country together."


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