Mine resistant vehicles were already a staple of military forces like that of South Africa well before the U.S.-led invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq focused renewed attention to them. These invasions painfully showcased a limitation in durable armored vehicles capable of withstanding explosive blasts and Rocket-Propelled Grenade (RPG) fire from ordnance and foes lying in ambush. Beyond armored, tracked vehicles such as the M2 Bradley IFV, the U.S. Army was forced to rely on lightly protected HUMVEE trucks and standard military haulers which resulted in a poor showing during the early going.
Thus began the era of the Mine-Resistant, Ambush-Protected (MRAP) vehicle, a new classification by the American military covering a design capable of withstanding blasts from hidden mines, explosive devices, RPG fire, and other battlefield dangers. One product of the period became the BAe Caiman MRAP which formed a portion of a new family of American military vehicles under the FMTV name ("Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles"). Its upgraded form has become the Caiman Multi-Terrain Vehicle (MTV) or (CMTV). The FMTV group as a whole already numbers some 56,000 vehicles (2015).
Initial development of the product was headed by Stewart & Stevenson, a manufacturing concern founded back in 1902 and eventually absorbed under the Armor Holdings (founded 1996) brand label. Its parent company then became BAe Systems and Armaments which acquired Armor Holdings in 2007. The Caiman evolved from the original Stewart & Stevenson design to the new BAe model seen on the modern battlefield.
The Caiman MTV is a further development of the original Caiman MRAP, featuring improved survivability, a 10-person seating arrangement, automatic transmission system, and a Central Tire Inflation System (CTIS). The vehicle utilizes a conventional automobile arrangement which houses the engine at front, the passenger cabin over the rear, and the driver's position over middle-front. Ground clearance is excellent and provides strong cross-country capabilities as well as good, elevated views over the hood. Windowed panels are kept to a minimum and those panels that do feature viewports use thick bullet-resistant glass. On the whole, the vehicle is protected against small arms fire, shell splinters, Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), and land mines (up to Category II). Its v-shaped hull helps to deflect some of the incoming blast and blast-resistant seats provide additional crew survivability. Run flat tires allow the crew to exit contested areas under fire.
The Caiman MTV marks a new standard for the Caiman vehicle line. Beyond its new armor protection scheme there is improve engine performance/reliability, increased comfort through an upgraded HVAC arrangement, new blast-absorbing seats, and a strengthening the existing underlying chassis. The upgrade program targets some 1,700 trucks for the work.
Current marketed variants of the Caiman line include the original Caiman MRAP, the updated Caiman MTV, the Caiman MTV battlefield ambulance with rear ramp and add-on armor blocks, and the Caiman Cargo Truck (C2T) with rear flatbed section. Versions can install a roof-mounted turret for mounting small arms as well as add-on armor blocks.
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