The House Armed Services Committee is nuts over the Mine Resistance Ambush Protected Vehicle, or MRAP, which has a v-shaped hull that makes it resistant to bombs. In two separate markups of the fiscal year 2008 defense authorization bill, the House Armed Services air land and seapower and expeditionary forces subcommittees have increased MRAP procurement funding by $4.1 billion. The vehicles cost about $1 million per copy.
The vehicle technology is so good that no soldier has died in one, according to an article last month by USA Today. In late March, Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) sponsored an amendment to the embattled FY-07 supplemental defense spending bill that would add $1.5 billion in funding to accelerate procurement of MRAP vehicles for the war.
A string of U.S. contractors are producing the vehicles including Armored Holdings, Force Protection Industries, International Trucks and General Dynamics Land Systems.
Force Protection Industries has an informative, if a bit corny video, about the Buffalo MRAP on its Web site. Unfortunately, I can't download and post it here but you can watch it yourself. Click on the video titled "Mean Machines." It looks like a preview for a Monster Truck show that seems a little over the top for the seriousness of its mission, but who says defense contractors can't have a little fun while showing off?
Anyway, what I learned about the Buffalo is that it is protected not just by its v-shaped hull and monster size, but by the fact that it is manufactured out of one giant sheet of metal. Reducing the number of panels increases its survivability. Also, solid steel wheels are underneath the rubber tires so the enemy can take out the tires and the Buffalo will keep on roaming. A hydraulic arm enables the crew to scope out suspicious packages and unexploded ordnance from a safe distance.
--Catherine MacRae Hockmuth