It was announced in yesterday's newspapers that the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) has acquired new sets of wheels wrapped in steel for Afghanistan. 15 MPTVs (Mine Protected Tactical Vehicles) were purchased last September. The SAF will be shipping these armored vehicles to Afghanistan where more than 160 of the Republic's troops will be stationed to help rebuilt the war-torn country.
These vehicles are known as Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles by the United States Military. The vehicles are a family of armored fighting vehicles designed to survive IED (Improvised Explosive Device) attacks and ambushes. IEDs cause the majority (63%) of US deaths in Iraq. IED blasts have become the biggest threat in Afghanistan, causing six out of 10 fatalities this year.
In June 2008, USA Today reported that roadside bomb attacks and fatalities were down almost 90% partially due to MRAPs. "They've taken hits, many, many hits that would have killed soldiers and Marines in up-armored Humvees," according to Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Maj. General Rick Lynch, who commanded a division in Baghdad.
The picture below shows a Cougar (one of the MRAPs) hit in Al Anbar, Iraq by a directed charge IED approximately 300–500 lbs in size. All crew members survived the blast.
MRAP vehicles usually have "V" shaped hulls to deflect away any explosive forces originating below the vehicle, thereby protecting the vehicle and its passenger compartment
The MRAP class is separated into three categories which describe the vehicle's weight class and size:
Category 1 (MRAP-MRUV) – The Mine Resistant Utility Vehicle (MRUV) is smaller and lighter, designed for urban operations
Category 2 (MRAP-JERRV) – The Joint Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Rapid Response Vehicle (JERRV) is designed for missions including convoy lead, troop transport, ambulance, explosive ordnance disposal and combat engineering.
Category 3 – Force Protection Buffalo MRV, Dedicated mine/IED clearing function, Seating to carry 6 personnel.
Does this mean the end of the road for the Humvee (High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle or HMMWV)? The HMMWV was designed primarily for personnel and light cargo transport behind front lines, not as a front line fighting vehicle.
After Somalia, the military recognized a need for a more protected HMMWV. In response to the vulnerability of HMMWVs operating in Iraq, "Up-Armor" kits were designed and installed on M998 HMMWVs.