The abbreviation MRAP stands for Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles and refers to a family of armored, U.S. military vehicles that were brought into service in 2002 and are specifically designed to protect its crew from mines and improvised explosive devices (IEDs). There are several different types of MRAPs submitted by several different companies so each design is different. MRAPs were created because of the number of American soldiers that were dying in explosions; the introduction of MRAPs into the Afghan war brought a significant decrease to the number of soldiers that suffered injuries in explosions by almost 90% in some instances, as a result MRAP vehicles have been in high demand.
Because the MRAPs do their jobs so well, insurgents have been forced to build bigger, more sophisticated explosives to try and get through the MRAPs shell; however bigger bombs mean more resources and more time to implement, so soldiers have a better chance of catching insurgents before they can do any damage.
MRAP vehicles are separated into three categories based on their weight; Category I vehicles are Mine Resistant Utility Vehicles (MRUVs) and are the lightest, fastest and most maneuverable of the three. Vehicles in this category weigh about 7 tons and can carry 6 passengers; vehicles in this category are: the International MaxxPro, the BAE RG-33 4×4, the BAE Caiman 4×4, the BAE OMC RG-31, the Force Protection Cougar H 4×4, and the Textron M1117 Guardian.
Category II vehicles are Joint Explosive Ordnance Disposal Rapid Response Vehicles (JERRVs) and weigh about 19 tons; Cat II MRAPs carry up to 10 passengers and include these vehicles: the BAE RG-33L 6×6, the Force Protection Cougar HE 6×6, the International MaxxPro XL , the GDLS RG-31E, the Caiman 6×6 and the Protected Vehicles Inc Golan. Cat II vehicles are often used to lead convoys, transport troops and to dispose of explosive devices.
Category III vehicles weigh about 22.5 tons and can carry up to 12 passengers; currently there is only one Cat III vehicle being used in the military and that is the Buffalo Mine Protected Vehicle (MPV); these MRAP vehicles are limited in number and are used in specialized circumstances specifically for finding and clearing explosives. This vehicle provides excellent protection for its crew.
In 2007 the Marine Corps began soliciting designs for a new MRAP vehicle that offers better protection than the current MRAPs, these new vehicles would be a part of the MRAP II series and unlike the original MRAP series would require no add-ons to protect it from flying projectiles during an explosion. Testing was done to eliminate vehicles that did not meet the required standard and in the end two winners were chosen – BAE systems and their upgraded design of the Caiman and Ideal Innovations Inc, Ceradyne and Oshkosh with their joint production of an MRAP called the Bull.
Aside from increased protection, the reason another generation of MRAP vehicles were needed was because the current MRAP vehicles are very heavy and in some cases the terrain was not able to handle the weight.