I apologize for the silence, I've been having some trouble with Blogger. Specifically, I wrote two posts last night and they disappeared off the server between hitting "Save Now" and "Publish Post." I have reconstructed the first here:
I've been following the debate over Mine-Resistant, Ambush Protected vehicle closely because it could could be an important direction marker for the future Army. Despite having drug their feet on the concept, it now appears the Army and Marines plan on replacing a sizable part of their HMMWV fleet with MRAPs.
One thing that has gone largely unaddressed in the debate so far is how MRAP will effect the deployability of the Army. I give you an idea of how big this change might be, I've crunched some rough numbers for your edification:
Up-Armored HMMWV Curb Weight: 4.9 tons Volume: 705 cubic feet Crew: 4 Range: 275 miles
Force Protection Industries Cougar 4x4 Curb Weight: 15 tons Volume: 1336 cubic feet Crew: 10 Range: 600 miles
Land Systems OMC RG-31 Nyala Curb Weight: 8 tons* Volume: 1463 cubic feet Crew: 10 Range: 559 miles
I put a star next to the curb weight of the RG-31 because most of the data I've seen is conflicting. I've seen curb weights varying between 7.28 and 8.4 (metric) tons so, I rounded the figure to 8 tons for the sake of argument.
The first thing that jumps out at me is the dramatic increase in volume and weight between the up-armored Humvee and the MRAP candidates. This is pretty understandable though, considering that the Cougar and Nyala are twice the size, carry more than twice the troops and go twice as far. Whereas an average squad would require 2-3 Humvees, they would probably only need 1 MRAP. This should help economize on fuel (fewer engines) and manpower (fewer drivers) some.
The increased weight might raise questions about how the Army and Marines could deploy MRAPs from the U.S. to the theater, particularly airlift feasibility. We should be careful to note that strategic and operational airlift are largely still on the drawing board. The Army's current 'move' doctrine still reflects an assumption that the bulk of Army materiel (including vehicles) will be done by sealift.
Setting that reality aside, the Cougar and Nyala are not too heavy for traditional airlift. The C-17 has enough cargo capacity (85 tons) to carry an M1 Abrams, so it can probably fit as many as two MRAPs on board. The Cougar and Nyala also appear to come under the limits of the C-130's mere 22 tons of lift. They will probably be too big for the Joint Cargo Aircraft's projected 7-10 payload limit though.
Since the next generation of strategic air- (the heavy-lift vertical take off and landing aircraft) and sealift (the austere access high speed ship) are still decades away, I don't think the MRAP won't cause too much of a problem our "expeditionary" military.