Global MRAP: The International Light Armored Vehicle

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ILAV w. MCATS(click to view full) The global trend toward mine-resistant vehicles has become unmistakable, and Iraq was the catalyst and proving ground. RG-31s of the US 101st Airborne and Australian Bushmasters were the first examples in Iraq, followed by the M1117 ASVs for American military police, and Cougar and Buffalo vehicles among US Marines […]
Cougar Iraqi ILAV

(click to view full)

The global trend toward mine-resistant vehicles has become unmistakable, and Iraq was the catalyst and proving ground. RG-31s of the US 101st Airborne and Australian Bushmasters were the first examples in Iraq, followed by the M1117 ASVs for American military police, and Cougar and Buffalo vehicles among US Marines et. al. Britain quickly adopted the ‘Mastiff’ Cougar variant for use in Iraq, and in 2007 the US military’s “MRAP” program began surging over 15,000 vehicles of various types into theater. And the Iraqis? Up-armored Hummers were a big upgrade over the Ford commercial pickups some units were using, but by 2006 they knew that they, too, needed a mine-resistant vehicle that could serve as as EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) vehicle, perform patrols in urban areas, and keep their country’s roads clear.

Iraq’s choice featured a familiar vehicle base, but an unfamiliar partnership. Why would BAE Systems bid a Cougar variant, instead of existing BAE products? How has the design evolved since 2006? And what’s the status of production orders and orders so far to Iraq, Yemen, and beyond? Previous discussions, and a new order, shine light on those questions.

BAE’s Decision

RG-33L and Arm

RG-33L w. arm
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While the design is based on Force Protection Inc.’s v-hulled Cougar that has earned such praise from US Marine Corps and Army Explosive Ordnance Disposal teams in Iraq, the prime contractor is competitor BAE Systems. The original 2006 contract and associated work began at the end of May 2006, and its total value could reach $445.4 million and 1,050 vehicles if all options are exercised. The first ILAVs, aka. ‘Badgers’ were delivered to Iraq 90 days after contract award, i.e. by the end of August 2006.

That platform choice was something of a surprise. BAE’s vast array of products include the M2/M3 Bradley, the M113 APC family, the highly-regarded v-hulled RG-31 Nyala 4x4s that are also in battlefield use by American and Canadian troops, and larger v-hulled Casspir personnel carriers that have a long history of effective use in mined war zones.

DID spoke with a BAE executive in 2006, whose simple response was that they looked at the Iraqis’ stated requirements, looked at what was available on the market, decided that this option would be the best offering (the RG-33 hadn’t yet been introduced), and put the consortium together.

This has not stopped BAE from making competitive moves of its own toward the Cougar/Buffalo’s market niche, however, just as Force Protection is making moves toward the smaller mine-resistant vehicle niche of BAE OMC’s RG-31/32 offerings. for more details on both counts, see the DII subscription articles:

* BAE’s Diverse MRAP Orders. Does not include Iraq’s ILAVs.
* Cougar Family MRAPs to Stalk Mines on the Battlefield

BAE Systems and Force Protections haven’t been the only firms with evolving offerings in the international mine-resistant vehicle market. Blast-resistant vehicles have gone from their status as an afterthought in 2006, to a central role in force planning for international operations and domestic unrest. Yemeni sales point to an opportunity in the Middle East for the referenceable ILAV vehicle; whether the firms involved can capitalize on it with further orders remains to be seen. 2012 contracts to Uganda and Burundi are a small but hopeful first step.

Contracts & Key Events

2010 – 2012


ILAV Route Clearance
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BAE Systems Land and Armaments is the prime contractor for the ILAV, with subcontractors Force Protection Inc. in Ladson, SC, and Spartan Chassis, Inc. in Charlotte, MI. This consortium also had the happy result of expanding the manufacturing capacity for Cougar-type vehicles, at an important time in the MRAP competition. BAE Systems personnel told DID that work would be going on at Spartan Chassis in Michigan and BAE’s manufacturing plants in Anniston, AL and York, PA, as well as Force Protection’s South Carolina facilities (now General Dynamics). Note, for instance, the work split in the original May 31/06 order.

All contracts are issued by the U.S. Army Tank-Automotive and Armaments Command in Warren, MI, but announcement has been a bit spotty. As the entries themselves show, Iraq is known to have fielded more ILAV vehicles than the publicly announced orders noted here.

Oct 2/12: New base contract: BAE Systems Land and Armaments in York, PA receives a $73.8 million firm-fixed-price umbrella contract, which allows Foreign Military Sales clients to buy International Light Armored Vehicles. US Army TACOM has confirmed to use that this 1st order is from Iraq, Uganda, and Burundi.

Work location will be determined with each order, with an estimated completion date of Sept. 27, 2015. The bid was solicited through the Internet, with one bid received. The U.S. Army Contracting Command, Warren, Mich., is the contracting activity (W56HZV-12-D-0159).

Iraq, Burundi, Uganda

Nov 7/11: Merger. General Dynamics Land Systems, who had partnered with Force Protection to build the Cougar MRAP, takes the next step. The parent firm agrees to buy Force Protection, Inc. for $5.52 per share of common stock, or approximately $360 million.

The move gives General Dynamics a lineup of blast-resistant patrol and de-mining vehicles to call its own, which is something the firm has never had. Force Protection | General Dynamics.

GD/ Force Protection merger

Aug 2/11: Iraq order. BAE Systems, Land & Armaments in York, PA receives a $9.2 million firm-fixed-price contract for 6 ILAV troop carriers; 3 Route Clearance ILAVs with robotic arms attached up front; and 1 option and 1 lot of interrogator arm repair kits for 44 damaged vehicles in the field, along with operator manuals, supplemental manuals and basic issue items kits. After the Yemeni order, the ILAV is now known as the “International Light Armored Vehicle”.

Work will be performed in Charlotte, MI; Ladson, SC; and York, PA, with an estimated completion date of March 3/12. One bid was solicited, with 1 bid received by the U.S. Army Contracting Command in Warren, MI (W56HZV-11-C-0379). Subsequent discussions with BAE Systems confirm that this order is for Iraq, adding that the team has delivered 618 ILAV vehicles to the Iraqis so far.

Iraq: 10

July 14/11: Iraq. Iraq’s 14th Field Engineer Regiment in Basrah is receiving route-clearance training on the route clearance ILAV with claw. This is the first report of 14 Division receiving this training.

July 2/11: Iraq. The IA is taking over route-clearance operations in Kirkuk. Pentagon DVIDS:

“Iraqi army soldiers of 12th Field Engineer Regiment graduated a route clearance training course during a ceremony at the K1 Training Center, Kirkuk province, Iraq, July 2.”

2006 – 2009

ILAV Aircraft Loading

ILAV, loading for delivery
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Dec 17/09: Iraq order. BAE Systems announces a $59 million contract for 109 2nd-generation Iraqi Light Armored Vehicles (ILAV, aka. “Badger”), and 10 Mine Roller Kits. These vehicles are being built for delivery to the Iraqi Ministry of Defense and Interior, and the contract is being managed by the U.S. Army’s Tank-automotive and Armaments Command.

The second-generation ILAVs are an improved version from the original 2006 contract. The team of BAE Systems, Force Protection, and Spartan Chassis will manufacture the ILAV-2s in 3 configurations: the basic ILAV troop carrier; a Route Clearance variant with a robotic arm (and, very likely, the mine roller kits); and an Explosive Ordnance Disposal configuration.

BAE Systems’ team has delivered 607 ILAVs total to the Iraqis, to U.S. forces for training vehicles, and to Yemen’s military (q.v. Oct 8/07 entry). According to ISF Order of Battle author DJ Elliott, the Iraqi order was 756 vehicles, for delivery by Nov 30/09, and is now 865 vehicles, with the last delivery expected by the end of 2010.

The MoI mention for the new set is interesting, as the ILAV has generally been an Army vehicle, while Iraq’s Ministry of the Interior has generally deployed the South African designed, but locally-built Reva 4×4 blast-resistant vehicle for protected patrol and bomb squad duties. In July 2008, however, units of the 1st Iraqi Federal Police Mechanized Brigade, which already operates M1117 ICVs and Reva vehicles, began to receive route clearance training. Whether they will receive Badger MRAPs for this task remains to be seen, but the parallel is suggestive. 1st IFP Mechanized operates in the Baghdad area, and into the Sunni triangle.

Iraq: 109

Oct 8/07: Force Protection, Inc. announces a purchase order from BAE Systems for an additional 45 Iraq Light Armored Vehicles (ILAV): 27 for Iraq (new total: 425), and 18 for Yemen. The order is worth an estimated $3.5 million, and will be completed by February 2008. The firm also clarifies the ILAV’s current production status:

“The combined enterprise of Force Protection and BAE Systems previously received awards totaling $180 million in 2006 to build 398 4×4 ILAVs, based on the proven design of the Cougar vehicle. In total, the contract authorizes production of up to 1,050 Cougar ILAVs. BAE Systems is prime contractor on the ILAV program, with Force Protection as subcontractor. “

Iraq 27, Yemen 18.

Sept 25/07: DSCA request. Iraq issues an official request for 55 more ILAV ‘Badger’ vehicles, and part of a larger $2.257 billion shopping list. See “$2.257B for Iraqi Army Guns, Vehicles & Logistics” for full coverage.

Aug 2/07: Robot arms. Force Protection, Inc. announces that it has received work totaling $5.3 million to produce more than 40 articulating interrogation arms for the Iraqi Light Armored Vehicle (ILAV) program, plus a total of 22 additional new vehicles. The items will be produced at the Ladson, SC facility, and deliveries are scheduled for December 2007.

Used to detect and remove suspected explosive threats, the articulated arm will be integrated into existing ILAV vehicles produced by BAE Land & Armament Systems as prime contractor and Force Protection as subcontractor. ILAV orders now stand at 418 vehicles, out of 1,050 if all options are exercised.

March 5/07: Iraq. An MNF-I press briefing by Brig. Gen. Terry Wolff, commander of the Military Assistant Training Team, offers some context re: the niche Iraq’s Badger ILAVs will occupy:

“The Iraqis have about 2,400 humvees — between 2,2(00) and 2,400 humvees on site now. They’ll go 2,700 humvees as part of finishing the build of those 10 divisions. And they’re buying 343 additionally on their own, and there will be about 400 more that are bought as part of the prime minister’s initiative. And so, I mean, that will — when all is said and done, you’ll be talking about 3,200 humvees, all up-armored, which is a good-news story.

Image Part of that buy will also include some engineer platoons, which will have a thing called the Cougar in it… So there’s a Cougar or a Badger. It’s called both things. And again, there have been about 398 of these purchased. They’re flowing in now. The Iraqis are starting to get trained on them. Kind of a big, tall-looking vehicle, as you can tell. Seats eight — got eight crewmen in the back of it or eight soldiers can easily ride in the back. It’s got real thick windows. It gives you a pretty phenomenal protection or very good protection against IEDs. You can see it’s got kind of a unique V-shaped hull to it, kind of based on a South African design, lessons learned from the fight the South Africans had down — with a lot of mines and against the Rhodesians years and years ago… So anyhow, 398 have been bought. They’re starting to arrive. We’re training — we have a training team up at Taji, where we’re training soldiers — Iraqi soldiers on this. And then the first groups of these will be deployed down to the 6th Division here in Baghdad, starting in a couple of weeks… So anyhow, a large number of those things will go to the 6th Division, and then there will be some additional Cougars, Badgers that will be deployed to three additional — three other divisions.”

Oct 23/06: Iraq. BAE Systems announces that it has received a $7.8 million Foreign Military Sales contract modification to manufacture 20 additional Iraqi Light Armored Vehicles. The contract modification follows an initial order for 378 vehicles issued in May 2006, and represents another step on the road to 1,050 potential vehicles if all options are exercised. BAE’s release notes that work on the contract is ongoing with deliveries scheduled to continue through May 2007. The first ILAVs were delivered to Iraq 90 days after contract award, i.e. by the end of August 2006.

Iraq: 20

Sept 19/06: DSCA request. Iraq issues an official request for 600 ILAVs as part of a larger $500 million shopping list. See “Up to $750M in Weapons & Support for Iraq” for full coverage.

Aug 15/06: UK Land Forces Order 86 ‘Mastiff PPV’ Cougar Vehicles. The Mastiff is another Cougar variant, and will be employed in Iraq and Afghanistan. DID’s article also adds relevant background concerning Force Protection’s efforts & plans to increase production capacity.

May 31/06: The original ILAV order. BAE Systems Land & Armaments LP in York, PA received a delivery order amount of $180.5 million as part of a $445.4 million firm-fixed-price contract for Iraqi Light Armored Vehicles. This order covers 378 ILAVs.

Work will be performed in Anniston, AL (50%), and Ladson, SC (50%), and is expected to be complete by May 2007, or by November 30, 2009 if all options are exercised. Bids were solicited via the World Wide Web on May 5, 2006, and 16 bids were received (W56HZV-06-D-VB01).

Iraq: 378

Appendix A: DID Analysis/ Op-Ed, 2006

Cougar JERRV with EOD Team IED

Cougar-H & EOD Team
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DID would also also like to note two other points of interest:

One is the new Marine Corps Armored Turret System sitting on the BAE photo release of the new ILAV. Good thinking.

The second item is the fact that unlike the RG-31 or Casspir, the Cougar is built in the USA and has just expanded its manufacturing capacity there. While it’s a bit early to float merger & acquisition rumors, and the BAE executives we talked to didn’t even hint in that direction, BAE Systems is quite open about its desire to be a major trans-Atlantic competitor in all areas of its business. The Airbus sale will give them over $1 billion in cash, and Force Protection vehicles like the Cougar and Buffalo are proving quite popular in the USA and gathering an enviable combat reputation.

With the ILAV order, the Cougar takes an important step forward, moving beyond an EOD specialty vehicle and into the growing niche for mine-protected patrol vehicles. Working with Force Protection to produce these vehicles gives plenty of time for due diligence and corporate culture compatibility checks, and adding the Cougar and Buffalo to its stable would give it a formidable set of options for international competitions against Krauss-Maffei’s Dingo, Iveco’s MLV/Panther, and ADI’s Bushmaster IMV. Not to mention a US option that none of the others could match, as the US military considers what vehicle or vehicle mix should follow the Hummer.

This contract will be worth watching, for a number of reasons.

Appendix B: Additional Readings

* DID (Dec 9/09) – Iraqi Security Forces Order of Battle 2009-12

* MNF-I via Blackanthem Military News (April 9/07) – Badgers headed for Baghdad

* Force Protection (Sept 29/06) – Force Protection Extends Agreement with South African Technology Partner. That partner, Mechem, is a division of South Africa’s Denel Pty Ltd. The new agreement extends to September 2011.

* 10Q Detective (Aug 26/06) – Force Protection–Explosive Turnaround Story. In 2001, Force Protection looked like it might go out of business. Things have changed. An interesting business/stock analysis of Force Protection, Inc., which sees them as a potential takeover target. DID adds that we don’t do stock recommendations, that this is one source of information among many whose reliability you must evaluate entirely on your own, and that if you buy stocks that’s 100% your decision and your risk.

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