The manufacturer of the popular (in Iraq) Cougar armored vehicle, has
joined with major defense contractor General Dynamics, to increase production.
The Cougar was built to deal with mines and roadside bombs, and the U.S.
Department of Defense has bought over 300 of them in the last three years. The
manufacturer does not have the capacity to fill all the orders that are coming
in, thus the deal with General Dynamics.
Cougar armored vehicles are basically 12 ton trucks with armor added so that it
can survive bombs, mines, and bullets. The Cougars 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 the
1990s. The Cougar was first used , by U.S. troops in the late 1990s, in the
Balkans, and comes in two versions. The four wheel one can carry ten
passengers, while the six wheel one can carry 16. The vehicle uses a capsule
design to protect the passengers and key vehicle components from mines and
roadside bombs. Cougars cost about $730,000 each, fully equipped. The Cougars
are about the same weight of the usual wheeled armored vehicles, but cost less
than half as much. Cougars provide similar carrying capacity and protection.
The Iraq army is buying 378 armored trucks modeled on the Cougar. This Iraqi
Light Armored Vehicles (ILAV) will cost about $432,000 each. The ILAV is based
on the four wheel Cougar, which can carry ten passengers. The first ILAVs will
arrive next year. If the ILAV proves popular, the contract already makes
provision for a total of 1,050 vehicles to be delivered by 2009. The
Cougar is also popular with aid organizations operating in unruly areas.