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MRAP’s vehicles

The last twenty years have seen the global and massive emergence of MRAPs (for Mine Resistant Ambush Protected), over-armored and electronically equipped vehicles. A major trend (and it’s the case to say it) that has made these badass-looking machines the darling of video games, series and blockbusters… But, in reality, are MRAPs the future of military vehicles ?

Above: the Hummer, even reinforced, now looks tiny next to the MRAP armor.


The end of the « Humvees »

With the beginning of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, one of the symbols of America shows its limits. Indeed, the Humvee, indestructible symbol of the Reagan years, adulated by Arnold Schwarzenegger and a whole generation of rappers, is unable to protect the soldiers. In a few months, hundreds of these vehicles are put out of action, and the human losses accumulate…

Indeed, the Iraqi insurgents, Al Qaeda and the Taliban have been able to adapt and slide more and more towards “techno-guérilla” methods and the massive use of improvised explosive devices (the famous “IEDs”). The Humvees (as well as all the vehicles built on the same standard during the Cold War) then showed their weaknesses: insufficient armor, an inadequate chassis against mines and explosives, and the absence of protection for the machine-gun operators, overexposed to snipers and during ambushes.

 The Oshkosh JLTV (Joint Light Tactical Vehicle) is the official successor to the Humvee in the US Army.


The birth of monsters

After an attempt to deal with the emergency by reinforcing the Hummer’s armor (which was not very successful, as the additional plates sometimes turned into deadly projectiles for the vehicle’s occupants), the Americans first, and then all the armies and industrialists in the world, understood that this new form of warfare implied the design of a new category of vehicle, capable of protecting the men.

From the mid-2000s, the first MRAPs imposed the concept of an elevated, over-armored vehicle equipped with remote-controlled weapons and various sensors. Moreover, most of them have a resolutely aggressive look, intended to impose their presence and their firepower.

This last point is not negligible, since it also allows them to impose themselves in many police forces, where they are used to maintain order, and to become a must have of any action movie, as for example in the Fast & Furious series.

 Fast and Furious 6.


Too heavy ? Too sophisticated ? Too expensive ?

In a few years, most military vehicle manufacturers have included one or more MRAPs in their catalogs. At arms fairs today, one is struck by the multitude of wheeled vehicles, described as “light”, but which are in fact more massive than some tanks !

 Most MRAPs today are larger than a battle tank.

In fact, in addition to their prohibitive cost, which does not allow them to completely replace the previous fleet, the MRAPs pose problems of fuel overconsumption, and numerous challenges with regard to their maintenance, made much more difficult by the overabundance of electronic and optronic systems.

From an operational point of view, there is also the question of vehicles that are supposed to be mobile and light, but in reality are so heavy and wide that they cannot use all the tracks, nor penetrate certain villages. Moreover, their image as a real “fortress” is now considered counter-productive and overly aggressive with regard to civilian populations, especially in law enforcement operations..

These paradoxes make that today, more and more armed forces are looking for the exact opposite of MRAPs : light and fast vehicles, even uncovered : buggies, quads, hybrid vehicles or even technicals… A large panel therefore, which can be usefully exploited by the entertainment industry, provided, however, that a semblance of authenticity is maintained…


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