The Cougar Mine Protected Armored Patrol Vehicle (MRAP)

By: Army Veteran

Imagine for a moment you are in Iraq. You’re conducting route reconnaissance between your Forward Operating Base and one of several Combat Outposts your FOB supports. It’s hot; you and everyone else in your truck stink to high heaven. You’re tired; you’ve been on patrol for three days straight. But no matter how tired or uncomfortable you are, your eyes are peeled. You scan the roadway for anything out of the ordinary, anything that wasn’t there the day before. New piles of trash, disturbed dirt on the side of the road, a filled pothole, anything that can hide an IED. Wouldn’t you want to ride in something that can take that kind of a beating?

Cougar with wraparound anti-RPG cage.
Cougar with wraparound anti-RPG cage. US Army

Multipurpose Workhorse: The Cougar is a 12 ton mine protected armored patrol vehicle (MRAP) made by General Dynamics. Originally produced by Force Protection Incorporated, the Cougar answered the United States Military’s need for a maneuverable military vehicle with superior force protection capabilities. The Cougar is capable of performing a variety of missions from route clearance by Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) teams to convoy security to reconnaissance, all while providing protection against small arms, mines, and Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). It is available in both 4-wheeled and 6-wheeled variations. The 4-wheel variation can transport 10 passengers and the 6-wheel variation can transport 16. The Cougar first deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan in 2003 and is currently used by the United States (in both a military and law enforcement special tactics capacity), Poland, the United Kingdom, Hungary, Canada, Italy, and Iraq.

MRAP sandy
U.S. Marines with Military Police Company, Maintenance Battalion, drive a mine resistant ambush protected vehicle at Camp Al Taqaddum, Iraq, Sept. 20, 2008. The Marines were going through an MRAP course, offered by Force Protection Inc., where they learn how to overcome different terrain situations and become comfortable drivers.
Lance Cpl. Gabriela Garcia

Defense through Design: The Cougar’s defensive capabilities come in both its armor and its hull design. The MRAPs armor provides protection against 7.62mm armor-piercing rounds and other small-arms fire, as well as protection from rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs). The Cougar comes with run-flat tires and is also capable of equipping an optional nuclear, biological, and chemical protection system, effectively sealing the vehicle from outside contaminants.

MRAP Military Vehicle
Image courtesy of US Army

Double V-Hull: The Cougar MRAP also has a unique V-shaped hull. When most vehicles are struck by an IED, the bottom of the vehicle is perpendicular to the blast, resulting in the majority of the blast’s energy going straight to the vehicle and its occupants. The V-shape hull of the Cougar, however, results in the blast energy striking the vehicle at an oblique angle. This oblique angle directs the blast away from the vehicle, greatly increasing the survivability of the vehicle and its occupants. The effectiveness of the V-Shape hull is more than just theory; between 2007 and the Cougar’s deployment in 2003, V-hulled vehicles took an estimate of 1,000 IED impacts without loss of life.

Power and Performance: The MRAP comes in both 4 wheel and 6 wheel variations and is equipped with a Caterpillar C-7 diesel engine and a six-speed Allison 350 SP automatic transmission, providing it with 330 horsepower and a maximum toque of 860 foot pounds of torque at 1,450 rpm. It can travel at a maximum speed of almost 65mph and can cover almost 420 miles before refueling.

The high sitting MRAP can ford depths of 6 feet and can maneuver a 60% grade with a 30% side slope.

MRAP during firefight
US Army

Armament: The Cougar MRAP is capable of roof mounting the 7.62mm M240 machine gun, .50 caliber M2 machine gun, and MK19 40mm automatic grenade launcher, and other similarly mounted/sized weapons platforms. It can also be fitted with a remote-controlled weapons platform, capable of mounting the same weapons platforms, that allows operation of the turret while remaining inside the vehicle. Some forms of the Cougar also come with firing ports.

Buffalo MRAP variant
Buffalo engineering variant.
Image courtesy of US Army

Variations: The MRAP is available in several variations. The JERRV (Joint EOD Rapid Response Vehicle), available in both 4 and 6 wheeled versions, serves primarily in route clearing and EOD capacities.

The HERV (Hardened Engineer Vehicle), available in 4×4 and 6×6, is used by the US Marine Corps.

Foreign Variants: The Ridgeback, Mastiff, and Wolfhound are British versions of the MRAP. The Ridgeback is a 4×4 variation and the smallest of the three. It comes equipped with armor plating to cover vision blocks and firing ports. The Mastiff and Wolfhound, both 6×6 versions, come with similar (but larger) armor plating as the Ridgeback. The Wolfhound also comes equipped with a rear loading area for additional storage.

The Timberwolf is a Canadian Army variant that serves as a command and control/reconnaissance vehicle.