MANUFACTURER(S): Force Protection Industries (General Dynamics) - USA
OPERATORS: Canada; France; Italy; Pakistan; United Kingdom; United States
NBC PROTECTION: Not Available.
NIGHTVISION: Not Available.
Detailing the development and operational history of the Force Protection Buffalo H Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) Vehicle.
Entry last updated on 12/29/2017.
Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com.
The Buffalo H series MRAP (Mine-Resistant, Ambush-Protected) vehicles were brought about by the need for better armored vehicles for American forces in the Iraq War (2003). Heavy utilization of enemy IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices) were shown to be highly-effective against lightly armored HUMVEE vehicles across the country - HUMVEEs represented the then-standard American vehicle for local defense, crowd control, and convoy escort. Insurgent warfare targeted these lightly-armored convoys with growing regularity as the groups moved through dense streets and open country roads. This eventually pushed the need for "up-armored" HUMVEEs which were minimally successful - thus the focus on MRAPs since.
The American "Buffalo" MRAP is based on the South African "Casspir", a high-profile vehicle seating up to twelve with life-saving features built into the design.
As their very name describes, MRAPs are designed to withstand attacks from mines as well as ambush weapons like "Rocket-Propelled Grenades" (RPGs). The former is accomplished through a V-shaped hull designed to deflect the deadliest part of an explosion away from the longitudinal spine of the vehicle. This hull shape is coupled to a high ground clearance which further keeps occupants away from the point of detonation. The concept of the V-shaped mono-hull chassis is decades old and was first developed in South Africa to counter land mines during the "Bush Wars". While there is still high probability of considerable damage to the underside working components, the occupants stay relatively safe and are secured by way of harnesses similar to that used in race cars. In one documented incident involving an MRAP, the vehicle was subject to four direct attacks and managed to clear the scene without major issue.
The six-wheeled "Buffalo", constructed by Force Protection Industries (a division of General Dynamics) vehicle features that resiliency trait and is further designed to rollover when hit with an underside blast. This type of design implementation assists in keeping the system's passengers alive, even from a complete 360 degree rollover situation.
Force Protection Buffalo H (Cont'd)
Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) Vehicle
The high profile of the Buffalo MRAP system provides an advantage in giving the occupants a commanding view of the action surrounding the vehicle. Thick windowed gun ports allow occupants to engage with personal weapons and keep friendlies under protection. No longer are troops directed out of the safety of their armored vehicle to counter the enemy. Comparatively, HUMVEE soldiers were exposed either from their open-air .50 caliber machine gun perches atop the vehicle or trying to engage a hidden enemy from behind their bulky fabric (or lightly-armored doors) with minimal overall visibility and therefore reduced situational awareness.
The base Buffalo chassis is fully adaptable and can fulfill other battlefield roles such as MEDical EVACuation (MEDEVAC) unit. They also can showcase a remote-controlled manipulator arm for EOD service (bomb disposal).
Internally, the series is powered by a Mack ASET AI-400 I6 diesel unit and this is tied to an Allison HD-4560P automatic transmission. A 6x6 wheeled axle arrangement is featured and road speeds reach 65 mph with ranges out to 300 miles. Dimensions include a length of 27 feet, a width of 8.5 feet, and a height of 13 feet. The standard operating crew is two with up to four passengers.
The original production variant was the Buffalo H and this has since been succeeded by the dimensionally larger Buffalo A2 (introduced 2009). The United States military has taken on a stock of 200 of the former and 450 of the latter. Other operators include Canada, France, Italy, Pakistan, and the United Kingdom.