BAE Systems is offering a redesigned, lighter version of
the 14- to 24-ton Caiman MRAP now in service in Iraq for
the M-ATV contract.
DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
Force Dynamics, a joint venture of Force Protection Inc. and
General Dynamics Land Systems, is proposing Force Protection’s Cheetah for the M-ATV contract.
General Dynamics also is bidding an RG- 31 design in the
M-ATV competition. An Army RG- 31 Mine Protected Armored Personnel Carrier is shown here in Mahmudiyah,
Baghdad Province, Iraq, in April 2006.
Getting a nimble, survivable off-road vehicle will push
design boundaries. The request from the battlefield is
that the new vehicle incorporate protection against
explosively formed projectiles and rocket-propelled
grenades. That could mean bulking up with an extra
layer of armor — the same layer that has increased the
weight of the standard MRAP.
BAE Systems is offering a redesigned, lighter version
of its 14- to 24-ton Caiman MRAP now in service in
Iraq. BAE is planning to bring down the overall height
to 102 inches and reduce the weight to 25,000 pounds.
The Caiman Light comes with electronic stability controls and can be built with rear steering, which gives it
a less-than-20-foot turning radius.
The Force Dynamics joint venture is competing with
Force Protection’s Cheetah. The companies claim the
Cheetah is a lightweight armored tactical vehicle with
independent suspension that meets or exceeds the
threshold requirements for crew protection, mobility and
weight for the M-ATV.
The Cheetah has completed Force Protection-sponsored blast testing at the Aberdeen Proving
Grounds, Md., and initial mobility and durability testing at the Nevada Automotive Test Center.
Separately, General Dynamics is going it alone with
the RG- 31, based on a South African design. The
RG- 31 is already in use, in several variants, with NATO
forces across the globe. RG-31s, with an all-welded
armor shell, are one of the lighter MRAP vehicles
on the roster, with a combat weight of about 18,500
Many RG-31s are currently used by the U.S. Army
and Marine Corps as pathfinder vehicles that take lead
convoy roles, or as specialty vehicles for explosives
ordnance disposal teams.
Illinois-based Navistar Defense already has an order
for lighter MRAP versions destined for Afghanistan.
Navistar earlier this year was awarded a contract to
provide 400 additional MaxxPro Dash vehicles for
operations in Afghanistan, with delivery by the end of
May. That is on top of another 822 vehicles the company already has delivered.
Navistar has seen the most orders to date for mine-resistant trucks for Iraq and Afghanistan. For the M-ATV
contest, Navistar will compete with a tweaked version of
its MaxxPro Dash.
Meanwhile, Oshkosh Defense also has jumped into
the fray. The Oshkosh M-ATV, based on its Medium
Tactical Vehicle Replacement chassis, features its battle-tested independent suspension system and a powerful
drive-train, allowing the vehicle to carry heavier armor
if needed, according to a company release. ■
Roxana Tiron is a defense reporter at The Hill newspaper.