MRAP Advance Purchase #2: Oshkosh, PVI & GD
On February 26, 2007, “MRAP: Survivable Rides, Start Rolling” opened a window into the USA’s Mine-Resistant, Ambush Protected Vehicle competition for at least 4,100 vehicles to supplement vulnerable Hummers on today’s non-linear battlefield. A similar “early order for the front” trio of delivery orders was issued on February 23, 2007, and DID is now able to offer full details re: the specific vehicles ordered for front-line deployment.
Winners included Oshkosh Truck (Category I patrol vehicle), Protected Vehicles, Inc. (Category II JERRV), and the General Dynamics Land Systems/BAE OMC partnership (both categories).
MRAP: The Types
The Marine Corps Systems Command in Quantico, VA, are the lead agency in the MRAP program, which aims to procure vehicles for the US Army and Navy as well.
Category I MRAP vehicles are patrol vehicles designed to carry around 6 troops, including the driver; to date, the USA’s preferred purchase in this category has been the RG-31 from BAE OMC and General Dynamics Canada, or the Cougar 4×4 variant from Force Protection.
Category II MRAP vehicles are squad vehicles designed to carry up to 10 troops including the driver, and also serve as heavy vehicles for EOD(Explosive Ordnance Disposal) teams. They may also perform other key roles like ambulance et. al. To date, the USA’s preferred purchase in this category has been the larger Cougar 6×6 from Force Protection. The Cougar has become the de facto standard MRAP vehicle in the Iraqi theater to date, selected by the USA, Britain (Mastiff), and the Iraqi army (ILAV).
Newest MRAP Contracts
February 23, 2006 The Marine Corps Systems Command in Quantico, VA issued Limited Rate Initial Production (LRIP) orders for a number of MRAP contender vehicles. These firm-fixed-price delivery orders under previously awarded indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contracts are not destined for the testing range – they are being issued to accelerate the production of “lower risk” (i.e. more complete and tested) vehicle designs for deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan. As part of the order, logistics support will continue up to two years after fielding [emphasis DID’s] for test and any production vehicles. Work will be performed by the manufacturers, and is expected to be complete in June 2007.
These are advance orders and, in addition to the other previously issued orders, they represent less than 10% of the expected total of all orders to be issued under the MRAP contracts. The winners included:
General Dynamics Land Systems (GDLS) Canada Corp. in London, Ontario, Canada (M67854-07-D-5028). They are receiving an $11 million delivery order for 10 Category I and 10 Category II MRAP vehicles. Support will be provided from York, PA.
The GDLS vehicles are part of a partnership with South Africa based BAE OMC. This partnership is managed by GDLS-Canada, and orders are signed through a Crown Agency of the Canadian Government named the Canadian Commercial Corporation. This group is already supplying a total of 424 RG-31 “Charger” vehicles, including 265 of the uprated Mk5s for the U.S. Army and US Special Operations Command (SOCOM). The RG-31 is currently the USA’s de facto standard “Category 1 MRAP” vehicle in theater, and it has also been successful with Canadian forces in Afghanistan.
The GDLS release confirms that their 10 Category I vehicles are their RG-31 Mk5s, a type that is already under delivery as part of larger orders.
A response to DID’s inquiries adds that the larger Category II vehicle will be something called the “RG-31E” – presumably a stretched version of the RG-31 designed to accommodate more passengers.
The next winner is an unexpected manufacturer for a small patrol vehicle. Oshkosh Truck Corporation (OTC) in Oshkosh, WI received a $30.6 million delivery order for 100 Category I MRAP patrol vehicles (M67854-07-D-5026). Oshkosh’s release cites their existing production and service capacity, including support in theater, and pledges an expedited production schedule to deliver the first units within 120 days.
Oshkosh Truck’ Category I entry is the Alpha, a 13 ton 4×4 armored vehicle with a v-hull and room for up to 8 occupants. It is actually designed by fellow MRAP contender Protected Vehicles, Inc. (PVI) of North Charleston, South Carolina. Past PVI statements have placed the Alpha’s price at a very competitive $275,000, though it remains to be seen whether the Oshkosh partnership can deliver the vehicles at that same price point.
Over the past year, Oshkosh and PVI have forged a relationship whereby PVI will provide Oshkosh with armored hulls, and Oshkosh will take advantage of its production capability and engineering expertise to provide completed vehicles. Those armored hulls will arrive outfitted with ShieldAll lightweight composite armor from Battelle, which supposedly offers better protection than conventional steel armor at just 37% of the weight. When paired with PVI’s armoring methodologies, Battelle claims that PVI’s vehicles will stop .50 caliber rounds. PVI’s releases, however, will only cite “multi-hit protection capability against 7.62AP threats.”
Oshkosh claims that the lightweight armor helps also make the vehicle fully air-transportable, making it simpler to re-deploy them in theater. A 13 ton vehicle is deployable by C-130, but not via helicopter, and may well find itself outweighing smaller Category 1 contenders. PVI told DID that the 7-ton figure in previous media articles was the Alpha’s original weight; the vehicle has grown to 13 tons in order to achieve MRAP requirements.
PVI will not release vehicle dimensions, however, which would allow one to evaluate their products’ fit into various intratheater transport aircraft like the C-27J spartan “Baby Herc” competing for the JCA contract.
Protected Vehicles, Inc. (PVI) in North Charleston, SC are also receiving a $37.4 million delivery order of their own for 60 Category II MRAP vehicles (M67854-07-D-5027). To meet this requirement, they are offering the 33,000 pound/ 15,000 kg gross vehicle weight “Golan.”
The Golan is a design collaboration with RAFAEL of Israel and the Merkava tank program Office (Mantak); as you might expect, it is also under evaluation by the Israeli armed forces. The Golan will carry up to up to 10 troops, yet RAFAEL claims a turning radius less than 8 meters for urban arenas and a 360 mile /600 km operation range. The Golan also boasts central tire inflation with run-flat tires; 4 day/night sight systems and displays; a rear ramp with window; 4 roof hatches (which offer more tactical options and can be lifesavers if the vehicle rolls into the water); and front and rear air-conditioning, in a flexible interior design with no separation between cabin and crew compartment. All automotive systems are off the shelf American parts, including the 315 hp Cummins diesel engine.
In an unconventional but very interesting approach, the Golan’s spall liner was used to allocate weight externally to prevent penetration, rather than allocating weight to the inside of the vehicle in order to minimize damage once a penetration has occurred (an additional internal liner is an option, however).
Indeed, RAFAEL says that the GOLAN’s design is based on a concept in which the armor protection system accounts for approximately 50% of Gross Volume Weight (GVW). The vehicle has a monocoque V-hull structure rather than an internal framework or chassis like a Hummer, which provides the strength to absorb the deformations generated by mines and IED blasts. It’s a common feature on blast-resistant vehicles, wherein suspensions link directly to the armored structure, which acts as a frame. This approach is similar to that used with tracked APCs and tanks. In addition to their unconventional use of spall armor, the vehicles’ V-hull adds a “floating floor” panel to mitigate the blast effects of mines, and its armor claims to defeat small arms, medium size IED land mines (15 pound/7 kg mines under belly and 30 pound/ 14 kg mines under wheels), and even RPG threats.
The Golan will offer 3 different protection levels, configurable in the field. Even so, all levels of protection present the same physical silhouette because ShieldAll armor tiles (that include storage boxes) with an identical outer shape are attached in the base and medium protection options. This is designed to make it hard to selectively target differentially armored vehicles.
Transparent armor windows are all covered with slat armor, and the base protection level provides the mine resistance discussed above, plus multiple-hit protection from 7.62mm AP (armor-piercing) rounds. The intermediate level of protection adds heavier protective tiles and covers weapons up to 14.5 mm AP and 20mm rounds, and adds effective roof protection. maximum protection level includes the same reactive modular armor tiles RAFAEL & General Dynamics are producing for the USA’s Bradley vehicles to defend them against cannon fire, single-warhead RPGs, and other anti-tank weapons.
Like its fellow MRAP competitors, Golan also offers a variety of “plug ins” that include multi-spectral counter IED electronics; counter sniper locator systems like RAFAEL’s SADS or BBN’s Boomerang; and remotely controlled weapons stations like RAFAEL’s Samson Jr. or Recon/Optical’s CROWS with guns, day/night optics, smoke launchers, and even missiles.
In many ways, PVI finds itself in the same position Force Protection faced a few years ago: in the early stages of product introductions, forced to manage a careful balancing act between investments, revenues, and the need to expand. Established in late 2005, PVI retains more than 170 employees with plans to add another 300 over the next few months. PVI has also established a welding school utilizing former Navy Nuclear Weld facilities, and secured options for additional manufacturing floor space.