Armor: A Need For Speed


January 11, 2010: The United States is producing 2,244 special (M-ATV), all-terrain, MRAPs (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected) for use in Afghanistan. Another 4,000 have been authorized. MRAPs reduced casualties from mines and roadside bombs, by fifty percent or more. Since most American and NATO troop deaths in Afghanistan are from roadside bombs and mines, the MRAPs will make a big difference.

As of the first week of January, 239 M-ATVs have arrived in Afghanistan. Only 164 of these are being used by troops in the field. The others are being used for training or having additional equipment added before being turned over to the troops. In the next few months, production will hit 500 vehicles a month, so by this Summer, over 2,000 M-ATVs will be in Afghanistan.

The M-ATV (MRAP-All Terrain Vehicle) is a 15 ton, 4x4 (with independent wheel suspension) armored vehicle. Payload is 1.8 tons, and it can carry five passengers (including a gunner). Top speed is 105 kilometers an hour, and range on internal fuel is 515 kilometers. The M-ATV is slightly larger than a hummer.

The reason for the M-ATV is that all other MRAPs are, after all, just heavy trucks. And the capsule design produces a high center of gravity, that makes the vehicles prone to flipping over easily. They are also large vehicles, causing maneuverability problems when going through narrow streets. Most MRAPs don't have a lot of torque, being somewhat underpowered for their size. And, being wheeled vehicles, they are not very good at cross country movement (especially considering the high center of gravity.) The M-ATV was designed to deal with all of these problems.

Each M-ATV costs $446,000. They are flown to Afghanistan, which, with operating and maintenance costs for one year, triples their cost. There are plans to move the vehicles by ship to Europe first, which would speed up the air movement to Afghanistan, and reduce the cost.



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