Armor: A Bigger, Better MRAP


September 11, 2009: One of the more popular MRAPs (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected), the RG-31, has been completely redesigned as the RG-35. While other MRAPs are armored trucks, with a V shaped underbody to deflect explosions, the RG-35 was designed from the ground up as an armored combat vehicle. The 26 ton, 6x6 RG-35 has the engine behind the driver, with the gun turret operator sitting next to him. This means that the engine is under armor, unlike most other MRAPS. In the rear, there is room for five passengers. The side mounted engine is much easier to repair and replace. The vehicle is wider (2.5 meters, or 7.8 feet), with a lower center of gravity and less likely to turn over. The vehicle is 22 feet (7 meters) long and 8.4 (2.7) feet high. The RG-15 can carry up to fifteen people, and a payload of 14 tons. It is designed to have another seven tons of armor added. A smaller, 4x4 version of the RG-35 is being tested.

Several countries are already using the similar RG-31 (nicknamed Nyala), which was designed and manufactured by the same company (BAE). The RG-31 is a very popular vehicle in Afghanistan, with Britain, France Canada, the Netherlands and the United States already using them there. It's a South African design, costing about up to million dollars each (depending on accessories), built to resist landmines and roadside bombs. It was developed from the earlier Mamba armored personnel carrier, and has an excellent track record.

The wheeled (4x4) RG-31 weighs eight tons and can carry up to eleven people. Some models, like the RG-31M, operate with a crew of five, plus a cargo area in the back. The RG-31 is preferred in Afghanistan because the bad roads make it easier for the top heavy MRAPs to flip over. The smaller RG-31 is less prone to this problem, and the RG-35 even less so.

Most of the MRAPs in Afghanistan have special equipment installed, like jammers (to prevent roadside bombs from being detonated via a wireless device) and remotely (from inside the vehicle) operated 12.7mm machine-guns.




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