MRAP (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected) Vehicle
Combat actions in Iraq and Afghanistan painfully showcased the need for American MRAP vehicles like the M-ATV.
Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited:
The Oshkosh M-ATV is a 4x4 armored vehicle now in service with the United States Army. Years of combat actions shown light-armored vehicles to be exceedingly vulnerable to enemy IED (Improvised Explosive Device) attacks, particularly in battlefronts across Iraq and in Afghanistan. The base HMMWV vehicles were ill-equipped for the task, forcing programs to "up-armor" the systems. But as this led to limited success, programs were enacted to find dedicated mine resistant vehicles known to most as "MRAPS". These vehicles place crew and system survivability at the forefront of their design and are as rugged as military vehicles can get, all while supplying some of the creature comforts found in civilian sedans. One of these resulting creations was the impressive Oshkosh M-ATV, a vehicle with the protection qualities of her larger four- and six-wheeled brethren but with the mobility of a smaller vehicle. Such a vehicle would prove useful in the confines of urban fighting.
The Oshkosh M-ATV was selected from a group of five potential suiters as the winner of the MRAP competition on June 30th, 2009, receiving a $1,060,000,000 contract to furnish some 2,244 vehicles to the United States Army. The Oshkosh product was selected as the prime contender for its proven survivability features including mine-resistant capabilities, off-road function, affordability in both production and maintenance and Oshkosh's modernized and capable production facilities. The first few M-ATV vehicles were debuted in Afghanistan sometime in October of 2009. The M-ATV is expected to take the general purpose utility mantle from the famed HMMWV (Humvee) series of armored vehicles.
Externally, design of the M-ATV is utilitarian to the core. Most-often fielded in the base single-color desert paint-scheme, the M-ATV makes no apologies for its lack of beauty. She sits atop four large rubber tires held out at the extreme corners of the design. This affords her a 16-inch clearance under her chassis. The engine is fitted to the front with the air grill divided into three fashionable points of entry along the front flat facing. The hood over the engine compartment curves upwards to the high-angled front bulletproof windshield plates. The driver is seated conventionally to the left front side of the crew cabin. There are four armored cabin doors with smaller bulletproof window. A pair of rear-view mirrors hang from wire frames ahead of each forward door system. The forward doors are double-hinged at their front edges and open conventionally while the rear door units are double-hinged at their trailing edges and open unconventionally towards the rear. The cabin features slab-sides and a flat roof. The powered turret sits atop the roof. A spare tire is locked in place along the flat surface of the rear cabin.
Base weight for the vehicle is approximately 25,000lbs with the gross weight tipping the scales at 32,500lbs. Armor is of Plasan composite (Plasan is an Israeli vehicle manufacturer with experience in building military-grade armored vehicles). There is seating for up to five personnel internally including the roof gunner. Power is supplied from a single Caterpillar C7 7.2-liter inline-6 turbo-diesel delivering up to 370 horsepower. The engine is mated to an Allison 3500SP series 6-speed automatic transmission that features "manumatic" shifting, a system featuring some inherent elements of manual transmission shifting. The suspension system is a TAK-4 independent 4x4 system, fitting the axle to two large heavy-duty coil springs. The driver is offered anti-lock braking as well as traction control while the whole crew can enjoy the comforts of cabin air conditioning and heating systems. Her payload hauling capabilities tops off around 4,000lbs. Performance specifications indicate a top speed of 65 miles per hour on ideal surfaces and road conditions with an operational range equal to about 320 miles.
The M-ATV sits atop the MTVR (Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacement) chassis, a 7-ton, six-wheeled drive, all-terrain system fielded by the USN and the USMC. The hull armor is similar in scope to that as found on the US Army SOCOM/USMC JLTV (Joint Light Tactical Vehicle) system. Like other systems in this category, the M-ATV features a V-shaped hull to promote crew survivability against the ever-present threat of IEDs or landmines. The engine is designed as such to promote continued function even after having taken a direct hit from small arms fire up to 7.62mm in caliber. The tires are designed to "run flat" for some 30 miles after taking damage thanks to the integrated Central Tire Inflation (CTI) system featuring two channels and four terrain settings. The M-ATV can lose two tire systems in this fashion and still operated.
Like other vehicles in the growing military class, the M-ATV makes use of a potent stable of armament and can adapt to the growing mission base as necessary. Her roof mounted turret can mount a variety of weapon systems found in the US Army inventory. The beauty of the M-ATVs design is that the turret mounted weapons can be fired from the turret itself or remotely from within the crew cabin, protecting the gunner. Armament systems to be found on the M-ATV include the 7.62mm M240 general purpose machine gun, the 40mm Mk 19 automatic grenade launcher and the BGM-71 TOW anti-tank wire-guided missile system. This formidable weapons display means that the vehicle can tangle with infantry, structures, light-armored vehicles and enemy tanks with equal lethality.
Production is handled by Oshkosh Truck Corporation of Oshkosh, Wisconsin. In fiscal year 2010 terms, each production unit costs the American taxpayer $470,000. As of this writing, some 8,079 total examples are on order with the United States Army. Deliveries of the initial vehicles was expected to conclude sometime in March of 2010.