This chapter reviews the outcomes of that research, the regulatory framework regarding rapid acquisitions, and presents a summary of the key factors that apply to the MRAP program.
MRAPs are a family of vehicles produced by a variety of domestic and international companies that generally incorporate a V-shaped hull and armor plating designed to provide protection against mines and IEDs. The DoD is procuring three types of MRAPs: Category I (CAT I) vehicles, weighing about 7 tons and capable of carrying 6 passengers; CAT II vehicles, weighing about 19 tons and capable of carrying 10 passengers; and CAT III vehicles, intended to be used primarily to clear mines and IEDs, weighing about 22.5 tons and capable of carrying up to 12 passengers. The Army and Marine Corps first employed MRAPs in limited numbers in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2003—primarily for route clearance and explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) operations. These route clearance MRAPs quickly gained a reputation for providing superior protection for their crews, and critics suggested that MRAPs might be a better alternative for transporting troops in combat than up-armored HMMWVs (Feickert, 2007, p. 1).
MRAP technology is not new. It was developed in South Africa in the early 1960s to mid-1970s for the armed forces of various South African nations in combating the same type of IED threat that U.S. forces face today (Walsh, 2008a, August 6). Engineers of that era concluded that mine blasts could be directed out and away from a vehicle by elevating the chassis and creating a V-shaped hull along its base. Variants based on this original MRAP technology have been in production outside the United States since that time by subsidiaries of General Dynamics Land Systems (GDLS) and BAE Systems. The United Nations has relied upon these vehicles for mine and route clearing operations in southern Africa and Eastern Europe.