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.
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.
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.