The Cougar 6×6 is a Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) armored fighting vehicle. It was specifically made, as its name implies, to resist anti-vehicle mines as well as improvised munitions and small arms weapons. It is currently manufactured by Force Protection Inc., manufacturers of specialty mine protection vehicles. The design even incorporates dual air conditioning to keep heavily dressed troops cool in 100 degree weather. It has been used in the Iraq war as well as the war in Afghanistan. Its primary functions are to lead convoys, transport personnel, move artillery and to act as a recovery vehicle or ambulance where necessary.
The cougar is available in a 4×4 and 6×6 configuration. The 6×6 variant weighs 32,000 lbs (14.5 tonnes) It is 19.41 feet long, has a width of 9.0 feet and reaches a height of 8.67 feet. It is designed to carry two crew members and ten passengers or, or 4 troops in addition to an Explosive Ordnance Detection (EOD) robot. It has an automatic transmission, all wheel drive and an operational range of 600 miles. The vehicle reaches a top cruising speed of 65 MPH with a Caterpillar C-7 diesel engine.
Force Protection Inc. designed the Cougar 6×6 MRAP in 2004 as a response to an urgent request made by the United States Marine Corps. It is commonly believed the Cougar is a South African Vehicle, but this is not the case. Its design was developed in South Africa but adapted to the needs of the United States troops and manufactured here. It was also was based on technology utilized in the United Kingdom and South Africa. Each Cougar unit starts at approximately $475,000, while additional features can push the price to just over $600,000.
Over 4000 Cougars are currently in use by all branches of the United States Military as it is the preferred choice for MRAP vehicles. It was reported that larger numbers were requested in 2004, after the Marines reported that there were no troop fatalities from IED attacks targeted at the Cougar vehicles. The popularity and defensive strength of the cougar has generated international interest. In addition to the United States Marines, Army, Navy and Air Force, Cougars have been purchased by the United Kingdom, Iraq, Italy, Poland, Croatia and Hungary.
Variants for the Cougar
All variants of the Cougar are designed to primarily transport and protect troops and equipment against IEDs. Variants are developed based on the needs of the military after assessment of Cougars in the field. The following variants are currently operational in the United States:
Cougar HEV 6×6 vehicles (Hardened engineer vehicle) – Ordered in 2004 by the U.S. Military
Cougar JERRV (Joint EOD rapid response vehicle) – Ordered in 2005 in response to public outcry regarding military casualties.
Cougar ISS – Outfitted with a specialized suspension system that increases cross country mobility.
MRAP – 3500 were ordered in 2008 for use in all branches of the US armed serves.