The global trend toward mine-resistant patrol vehicles actually added India back in the late 1990s, when it began to buy used South African Casspir vehicles. India ended up buying 165 Casspirs from 1999-2001, and they have seen extensive use in Jammu and Kashmir. The Casspir can be thought of with some justification as “the original MRAP,” and still serves with a number of national armies (South Africa, Djibouti, India, Indonesia, Namibia, Peru) as well as with private firms like Mechem De-mining.
The Casspirs India bought began production in 1979-1980, however, and many have served for a long time now. Even refurbished vehicles won’t last forever, and India’s Maoist Naxalites have demonstrated both signs of both informal co-belligerency with Islamist terrorists, and signs of cooperation further up the supply chain. With bomb-making skills spreading globally, and IED land mines a growing choice around the world, might there be an opening for an Indian MRAP program? BAE Systems thought so, hence its DLSI joint venture with Mahindra.
After some bad experiences with its up-armored Mercedes “Gelendevagen” in Afghanistan, Norway decided that they needed patrol vehicles with better protection. In 2006, therefore, they placed an order for 25 blast-resistant Iveco MLV/LMV vehicles, which are called Lynx by the Italians and Panther by the UK.
Deliveries began in 2006, and the vehicle’s performance in Afghanistan has led to additional orders over the years. A 2013 buy brings Norway’s order total to 170.
In a strong-commodity, weak-dollar/Euro world, Russia has the finances it need to replenish its badly depleted military. What it doesn’t have yet is the industrial and engineering capacity, which was lost during the state’s budgetary collapse. The Russians have been paying close attention to global trends, as evidenced by their interest in amphibious assault ships. It’s certainly hard to ignore the big global shift toward blast-resistant vehicles, especially in a state already plagued by various insurgencies within and near its borders.
In 2010, media reports began to surface that Russia was negotiating with Italy’s Iveco, with the aim of buying and license manufacturing the firm’s LMV/MLV/Lince blast resistant vehicles. Russia has little experience in this area, but rather than go with a partnership involving South African players, they targeted the higher-cost end of the global MRAP (Mine Resistant, Ambush Protected wheeled vehicle) market. Iveco’s M65 Lince has received praise for its performance in Afghanistan, while receiving orders from Italy, Austria, Belgium, Britain, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Norway, Slovakia, and Spain. At over 350 ordered vehicles, Russia’s “Rys” fleet is already one of the firm’s largest contracts – with the potential to become Iveco’s largest customer by far.
In 2008, as the USA’s program to field blast-resistant vehicles hit its stride, the US Army moved to field specialized variants for their Engineers and Explosive Ordnance Disposal teams. The $2.288 billion MMPV program would buy up to 2,500 vehicles for use through 2015. The initial buy is expected to involve 1,362 MMPVs: 684 are slated for engineering units to conduct route and area clearance missions, command and control, mount mine clearing systems, and conduct explosive hazards reconnaissance. Another 678 will go to explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) teams to neutralize Improvised Explosive Device land mines and other unexploded ordnance.
BAE Systems was picked as the sole-source winner, with a design based on their blast-resistant RG-33.
The USA’s Mine-Resistant, Ambush Protected (MRAP) program has been a long road for BAE Systems. In the wake of the US Army’s belated realization that mine protection was critical for vehicles in theater, BAE’s designs, long-standing experience in the field, and production capacity had made them an early favorite. Early results were a deeply humbling experience for the firm, but a combination of acquisitions, persistence, and product development combined to recover 2nd place status by the time MRAP orders ceased.
This in-depth, updated DID feature shines a spotlight on BAE Systems’ family of MRAP offerings, order record, and associated contracts. That includes its RG-33 family, the derivative MRRMV recovery vehicle, and the FMTV-based Caiman family, but not the RG-31s offered in partnership with General Dynamics. The MRAP program appears to have reached its vehicle limit, but upgrades and maintenance contracts are still a significant source of business.
Nov 26/12: The US DSCA announces [PDF] Saudi Arabia’s intent to buy blanket order requisitions, under a Cooperative Logistics Supply Support Agreement (CLSSA). The Government of Saudi Arabia wants to be able to issue these blanket order requisitions under the CLSSA for spare parts in support of its M1A2/S Abrams Tanks, M2 Bradley Fighting Vehicles, High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWVs), construction equipment, and support vehicles and equipment in the inventory of the Royal Saudi Land Forces Ordnance Corps.
General Dynamics is one of the biggest suppliers of land equipment to the US Army and Marines, alongside firms like BAE and Oshkosh. As IED land mines became an unmistakable trend in modern warfare, however, the company had nothing of its own to respond with. To fix that, they fell back on a focused partnership with BAE and the Canadian government, and created another limited partnership with newcomer Force Protection. Those kinds of partnerships can be preludes to an acquisition, and that was true in this case as well. In late 2011, the firm bought Force Protection, bringing all of its vehicles, technologies, and experience in house.
General Dynamics Land Systems is now a legitimate player in the global marketplace for blast-resistant vehicles. The long-term question involves competitiveness, as both the RG-31 (BAE) and Cougar (Force Protection) faded in the face of newer MRAP competitors. GDLS will reap maintenance and upgrade contracts for the RG-31s and Cougar in the US fleet, and consolidating accountability may strengthen their position if the Army decides to rationalize its MRAPs. That cash flow buys time; beyond, exports beckon. The Cougar family has a strong customer in Britain, where General Dynamics is supplanting BAE as a major land forces supplier, and it is used by several NATO and Middle Eastern countries. The Buffalo heavy mine-disposal vehicle has a unique niche, and offerings like the Ocelot and Jamma light patrol vehicles may yet pick up. Will it be enough?
The US Labor Department issued guidance [PDF] on the application of the WARN Act in advance of sequestration. They are saying defense contractors with contracts at stake should not send WARN Act notices, contrarily to the position held by Lockheed Martin and others. They argue that while “it is currently known that sequestration may occur, it is also known that efforts are being made to avoid sequestration.” It is a bizarre line of reasoning given that executing sequestration next January is currently signed law. Perhaps knowing this, the Dept of Labor also argues that because DoD hasn’t announced which contracts would be affected, potential layoffs are speculative.
It may come in handy for moving blast-resistant MRAP vehicles from Afghanistan to their projected staging & storage areas, in Italy and the Western Pacific. Given North Korea’s known intent to use massive commando infiltration, MRAPs seem like a smart tactical choice in Korea.
In late July, Canada’s RCMP(Royal Canadian Mounted Police, aka. “Mounties”) federal police force took delivery of 18 new Tactical Armoured Vehicles (TAVs), based on Navistar’s MXT-APC. Navistar’s MXTs are about twice as heavy as a Humvee, but would still be considered light by the standards of blast-resistant “MRAP/PPV” vehicles. The Canadian “TAVs” were bought under a $14 million contract, and will be used by Emergency Response Teams (ERTs) across Canada as their primary support vehicle. They’re designed for incidents including hostage takings, armed standoffs, barricaded persons and search and rescue operations, using a blueprint that came from Navistar Defence Canada Inc. in cooperation with RCMP engineers.
Britain is the MXT’s biggest customer, and their “Huskies” are deployed to Afghanistan. The RCMP is Navistar’s 1st MXT vehicle sale to police-type units, and a having such a high-profile international customer makes for a good start in that area. On the flip side of that transaction, RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson might want to avoid phrases like “We’re proud to have acquired this impressive tool,” when referring to new cars. After 139 years, we suppose that every organization is entitled to a minor mid-life crisis. RCMP | Navistar.
“Bushmaster Bonanza at Bendigo” read the August 2007 DoD headline, as Liberal Party Minister for Defence Dr. Brendan Nelson announced that Australia would buy at least 250 more Bushmaster vehicles. The final contract was actually larger than that, in order to meet Protected Mobility Medium requirements for Project Overlander’s Phase 3. In 2011, the government placed an order for even more Bushmasters. Now 2012 has seen that intention repeated, in order to keep the workforce occupied…