The Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) Caiman is one of a group of vehicles that were designed for use in the U.S. military to provide superior protection to soldiers against ambushes and explosive attacks that they encounter from day to day during a war; the line of MRAP vehicles were brought into frontline service in 2002 and they are still being used today. The MRAPs came about as the answer to combat explosive devices when the army realized how many U.S. soldiers were dying in these attacks; since being brought into service, the MRAPs have continued to be praised for the numerous lives that they have saved.
CATEGORIES OF MRAP VEHICLES
MRAP vehicles are categorized by their weight and there are currently three different categories; the vehicles in Category 1 are Mine Resistant Utility Vehicle (MRUV) models which are smaller, lighter and faster than the other two categories while providing the same level of protection as the heavier vehicles in Categories 2 and 3. Vehicles that fall into this category include the BAE Caiman 4×4, the BAE OMC RG-31, the BAE RG-33 4×4, the Force Protection Cougar H 4×4, the International MaxxPro and the Textron M1117 Guardian.
The MRAP vehicles in Category 2 were the Joint Explosive Ordnance Disposal Rapid Response Vehicles (JERRV) which were designed for frontline work such as leading convoys and finding and destroying mines and other explosive devices before anyone could get hurt; Category 2 vehicles also operated as ambulances and troop transportation. Vehicles in this category were: the Force Protection Cougar HE 6×6, the BAE RG-33L 6×6, the GDLS RG-31E, the Protected Vehicles Inc Golan, the International MaxxPro XL and the Caiman 6×6.
The only MRAP vehicle in Category 3 is the Buffalo Mine Protected Vehicle (MPV) which is specifically used for finding and clearing explosives.
THE MRAP CAIMAN
The Caiman is an armored vehicle whose design was based on the Medium Tactical Vehicles (MTVs) and had a V-hull just as the MTVs did; the Caiman was originally developed by Stewart & Stevenson but became the product of Armor Holdings when Armor Holding acquired Stewart & Stevenson. Armor Holdings was recently acquired by BAE Systems and so the Caiman is currently known as the BAE Caiman.
As mentioned before there is a Caiman in the MRAP Categories I and II, the Category I Caiman has a 10-man crew capacity, has a fully automatic transmission, an anti-lock braking system, a central tire inflation system, full-time all wheel drive, it is armoring enhancement capable, uses Tensylon Composite Armor and can be equipped with one 7.62 mm or 12.7 mm machine gun; it also travels at a speed of 105 km/h. The Cat II Caiman is heavier than the Cat I and has a better range; they both use the same guns but the Cat II can additionally accept all types of manned and remote weapon stations.
In September2010 BAE was given a $629 million contract to upgrade the Caiman and make it a Multi-Terrain Vehicle (MTV); the upgrade has an improved armored capsule and has greater survivability because it incorporates an enhanced monolithic floor, a strengthened chassis frame and improved blast absorbing seats.