28, 2007: The U.S. Marine Corps wants to get 3,000 more "bomb resistant
vehicles," in addition to the 1,022 is already getting (and will have all of by
the end of the year).¬†
of these bomb resistant vehicles are called Cougars, and the marines want to
replace armored hummers with Cougars in the most dangerous jobs. Troops in
Cougars are safer than those in hummers. But the Cougar, and larger Buffalo,
are more expensive to operate, and less flexible than the hummer.¬†
Cougar and Buffalo vehicles use a capsule design to protect the passengers and
key vehicle components mines and roadside bombs. The bulletproof Cougars and
Buffalos are built using the same construction techniques pioneered by South
African firms that have, over the years, delivered over 14,000 landmine
resistant vehicles to the South African armed forces. The South African
technology was imported into the U.S. in 1998, and has already been used in the
design of vehicles used by peacekeepers in the Balkans.
7-12 ton Cougar also has a version called JERRV (joint explosive ordnance
disposal rapid response Vehicles). Basically, JERRV is a 12 ton truck that is
hardened to survive bombs and mines. The Cougar can get engineers into combat
situations where mines, explosives or any kind of obstacle, have to be cleared.
The Cougar comes in two basic versions. The four wheel one can carry ten
passengers, the six wheel one can carry 16. The trucks cost about $730,000
each, fully equipped.¬†
20 percent of these bomb-resistant wheeled vehicles are Buffalos. This is a 23
ton vehicle, which is actually a heavily modified Peterbuilt Mac-10 truck.
Costing $740,000 each, they have added armor protection to keep out machine-gun
bullets. All this protection enables the vehicle to survive mines (or bombs).
The Buffalo clears mines using a roller that it pushes in front of it, detonating
the mines without taking any damage. The 27 foot long Buffalo can also detect
anti-tank mines, for later clearing. It's sensors can do this with a 90 percent
accuracy (it will generate false positives as well). While top speed is 105
kilometers an hour, when detecting or clearing mines, it moves at about five
kilometers an hour. The Buffalo has a five man crew.
Buffalo is a specialized route clearing vehicle, while the Cougar is more of a
hummer replacement. However, outside of Iraq, where roadside bombs are so
common, the Cougar would be more expensive to maintain and operate than the
hummer. The Cougar has more space inside, but that's because it's a larger, and more expensive, vehicle. But if you are likely to
encounter a roadside bomb, a Cougar is the safest ride.