May 5, 2009 The success of MRAP (Mine-Resistant, Ambush-Protected) vehicles in saving lives from IED (Improvised Explosive Device) and ambush attacks has seen the US Marine Corp, (the division of the military in charge of the MRAP program), scrambling to accelerate the rate of production by awarding contracts to multiple companies. One of these nine companies, Oshkosh Defense, has now delivered three production-representative MRAP All Terrain Vehicles (M-ATVs) to the U.S. Army’s Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland for military evaluation.

Heavily armored MRAP vehicles usually employ a “V” shaped hull designed to deflect the explosive forces from a land mine or IED away from the vehicle. The Oshkosh M-ATV incorporates an armor system from Plasan North America, the company that developed the armor system in use on more than 5,000 current MRAP vehicles and for the Armored Cab Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacements (MTVR) in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Oshkosh M-ATV was also designed with mobility in mind to meet the challenges of Afghanistan’s rugged and mountainous off-road terrain. The vehicle’s exceptional mobility is achieved with the integration of the company’s TAK-4 independent suspension system - a system used on more than 10,000 MTVRs operating in difficult off-road missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, where it has become renowned for its advanced crew-protection capabilities and unmatched mobility in off-road operations.

The use of multiple suppliers has helped the US military rush high numbers of MRAPs into service, however there are some hurdles in the process. Obviously cost is a major one, but another more immediate problem involves the operation and maintenance of the various designs of MARPs. Since there is no common vehicle design mechanics may need to familiarize themselves with multiple vehicles and stores need to accommodate parts for those vehicles.

The Oshkosh M-ATV will join the USC M-ATV and the GTS M-ATV produced by BAE Systems, which are also currently undergoing evaluation. If they pass muster the new MRAPs will be joining other MRAPs such as the Force Protection built Cougar, which has been proving its mettle for the US military since 2007.

Darren Quick