Armor: Brits Ship MRAPs To Afghanistan


October 27,2008:  Britain has 439 Cougar MRAPs (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected) vehicles on order or in service. The U.S. has used several thousand of the Cougars in Iraq, where the British had a chance to see the vehicles in action. They were impressed.

The Cougar uses a capsule design to protect the passengers and key vehicle components mines and roadside bombs. The bulletproof Cougas are built using the same construction techniques pioneered by South African firms that have, over the years, delivered thousands of landmine resistant vehicles to the South African armed forces. These were a great success. The South African technology was imported into the U.S. in 1998, and has earlier been used in the design of vehicles used by peacekeepers in the Balkans.

 The 7-12 ton Cougar is basically a truck that is hardened to survive bombs and mines. The Cougar comes in two basic versions. The four wheel one, which the British call Ridgback, can carry ten passengers, and the six wheel one, called Mastiff, can carry 16. The trucks cost about $800,000 each, fully equipped. But the British are adding another $900,000 worth of armor, weapons and equipment to each of the 157 Ridgbacks headed for Afghanistan. This will add a remote control weapons turret, and additional communications and electronics warfare equipment.

Britain is also refurbishing 170 of its Mastiffs, at a cost of $610,000 each, mainly to replace the axles and suspension and add new armor. Most of the Ridgbacks and Mastiffs have not been delivered yet.


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