The next-generation MRAP

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There has been a great deal of debate on the characteristics of the so-called next-generation of protected mobility vehicles (PMV). Business development director at BAE Systems Land Systems South Africa, Major General (Retd) Johan Jooste, believes this has long been driven to the level of cliché with terms such as “family of vehicles” and “multipurpose vehicles”.

The former SA Army director of infantry and director of army acquisitions says the key factors used to be mobility, firepower and protection. All are still vital but so is electric power supply, payload and contiguous internal space. “You need solid volume … and payload [the ability to carry] of at least five tons or more.”

Power supply is needed for sensors, jammers, payloads for early warning, radios, active protection weapons stations – remote or manned. “These just eat power,” Jooste muses. Weight is a further consideration – vehicles must be light enough so that their own weight does not hamper mobility – on the battlefield or in getting there. This is where reactive and composite armour is a consideration. Reliability is a consideration too – the vehicle must have the brute power and mechanical reliability or survivability to drive out of the kill zone of an enemy ambush – hence BAE’s Gear Ratio business that builds specialist gearboxes. (As an aside, the business unit is doing increasingly well in the rail and mining markets, diversifying income streams.)

Therefore, the current “holy grail” is the ultra light weight MPV. These would have half or two thirds the weight of current vehicles but with the same level of protection. Some such vehicles already exist, but are known to be notoriously expensive. The test then will be to do this at an affordable price.