Mine-re­sis­tant Am­bush Pro­tected Ve­hi­cles

The re­quire­ment of MRAPs in In­dia will re­main in the fore­see­able fu­ture. The need is not only to re­fine our con­cepts and mea­sures of area dom­i­nance but also de­velop and pro­vi­sion mine-pro­tected ve­hi­cles that pro­vide bet­ter pro­tec­tion, in line with the inc

SP's LandForces - - FRONT PAGE - Lt Gen­eral (Retd) P.C. Ka­toch

IN THIS ERA OF in­sur­gen­cies, ter­ror­ism, proxy wars and em­ploy­ment of ir­reg­u­lar forces, the use of mine-re­sis­tant am­bush pro­tected (MRAP) ve­hi­cles by armies around the world has been on the in­crease. In such en­vi­ron­ment, the ca­su­al­ties from mines and im­pro­vised ex­plo­sive de­vices are usu­ally more than bul­let in­juries. The In­dian Army has been fight­ing in such en­vi­ron­ments for over past two decades as in Sri Lanka when the In­dian Peace Keep­ing Force (IPKF) was de­ployed there. The his­tory of MRAPs is old and in ear­lier time pri­mar­ily com­prised ar­moured fight­ing ve­hi­cles de­ployed for such use. The ear­li­est de­ploy­ments of ar­moured fight­ing ve­hi­cles de­signed to specif­i­cally counter mines and im­pro­vised ex­plo­sive de­vices (IEDs) were dur­ing the six-year Bush War in Rhode­sia, ve­hi­cles that later were de­vel­oped upon by South African De­fence Forces.

Ca­su­al­ties

As per the Land­mine Mon­i­tor, at least 73,576 ca­su­al­ties in 119 coun­tries had oc­curred be­tween 1999 and 2009. These in­cluded at least 5,197 ca­su­al­ties caused by mines, im­pro­vised ex­plo­sive de­vices and ex­plo­sive rem­nants of war. The fig­ures for In­dia, dur­ing the same pe­riod, are men­tioned as 2,931. How­ever, it may be re­called that IPKF had to bat­tle ex­ten­sive net­work of Lib­er­a­tion Tigers of Tamil Ee­lam (LTTE) mines and IEDs in­clud­ing clay­more mines fit­ted on trees and in fo­liage and that while over 1,900 died in the fight­ing, more were in­jured, some los­ing limbs, due to mine and IED in­juries. In re­cent years, the Cen­tral Armed Po­lice Forces (CAPF) have been hav­ing pe­ri­odic, some­time heavy ca­su­al­ties while bat­tling Maoists, the core group of Maoists hav­ing been trained ex­ten­sively in mine, IED and ex­plo­sives by the Lib­er­a­tion Tigers of Tamil Ee­lam (LTTE), fa­cil­i­tated by the In­ter-Ser­vices In­tel­li­gence (ISI) of Pak­istan.

Amer­i­can Ex­pe­ri­ence

Amer­ica’s MRAP pro­gramme is op­er­ated un­der the US Marine Corps Sys­tems Com­mand. The Marine Corps had orig­i­nally planned to re­place all Humvee ve­hi­cles in the com­bat zones with MRAP ve­hi­cles, but ap­par­ently went for a mix. With the en­gage­ments in Afghanistan, $1.1 bil­lion was ear­marked to ac­cel­er­ate pro­duc­tion of the MRAPs and in­duct them into Afghanistan. As a re­sult, the num­ber of ca­su­al­ties and fa­tal­i­ties due to road­side bomb at­tacks in Afghanistan came down by al­most 90 per cent, par­tially due to the in­creased num­ber of MRAPs. These MRAPs were big (14tonne weight) and could with­stand most of the then bombs and IEDs the in­sur­gents were us­ing. Over the years, the in­sur­gents have been forced to use heav­ier IEDs and bombs to tar­get the MRAP but the num­ber of in­ci­dents has de­creased and the Tal­iban have re­sorted more to use smaller an­tiper­son­nel bombs that tar­get soldiers on pa­trol. In June 2009, the US Depart­ment of De­fense (DoD) awarded a pro­duc­tion con­tract for 2,224 MRAP all-ter­rain ve­hi­cles to Oshkosh De­fense for im­me­di­ate in­duc­tion into Afghanistan and in Oc­to­ber 2009, the first M-ATV was shipped to Afghanistan:

The US cat­e­gorises MRAP in three cat­e­gories: Cat­e­gory I, as mine-re­sis­tant util­ity ve­hi­cle (MRUV) that are smaller,

lighter and de­signed for ur­ban op­er­a­tions; Cat­e­gory II, as the joint ex­plo­sive ord­nance dis­posal (EOD) rapid re­sponse ve­hi­cle (JEERV), de­signed for mis­sions like lead­ing con­voys, troop trans­port, am­bu­lance, ex­plo­sive ord­nance dis­posal and com­bat en­gi­neer­ing; Cat­e­gory III, that are heav­ier with seat­ing ca­pac­ity of six, meant for force pro­tec­tion and ded­i­cated mine- and IED­clear­ing func­tions. Some ex­am­ples in Cat­e­gory I (MURV) are BAE Caiman 4x4, BAE OMC RG-31, BAE RG-33 4x4, Force Pro­tec­tion Cougar H 4x4, In­ter­na­tional MaxxPro, Tex­tron M1117 Guardian and Oshkosh Truck Al­pha:

Ex­am­ples of Cat­e­gory II (JERRV) in­clude Force Pro­tec­tion Cougar-HE 6x6, BAE RG33L 6x6, GDLS RG-31E, Thales Aus­tralia Bush­mas­ter IMV, Pro­tected Ve­hi­cles Inc Golan, In­ter­na­tional MaxxPro XL and BAE Caiman 6x6:

Ex­am­ple of Cat­e­gory III MRAP is the Force Pro­tec­tion Buf­falo MPCV:

In­dian Ex­pe­ri­ence

Bat­tling in­sur­gency in North­east and Jammu and Kash­mir (J&K); the base and ad­vance base work­shops of the In­dian Army had been work­ing over­time to pro­duce a mine pro­tec­tion ve­hi­cle (MPV). Con­cur­rently, In­dia started im­port­ing South African ‘Caspier’ ve­hi­cles. Some 185 Caspier ve­hi­cles were bought in 1999-2001. These have been used to good effect in J&K. How­ever, bomb mak­ing skills of the in­sur­gents like Maoists have im­proved and there is need to pro­vi­sion im­proved MPVs to se­cu­rity forces in counter-in­sur­gency op­er­a­tions:

Mahin­dra Mine Pro­tected Ve­hi­cle (MPV-1): This 18-pas­sen­ger ca­pac­ity, 230 HP diesel en­gine MPV was de­vel­oped in 2010 by De­fense Land Sys­tems, a joint ven­ture of Mahin­dra & Mahin­dra Limited and BAE Sys­tems of the US. Us­ing a V-shaped steel hull, it can with­stand 21 kg TNT equiv- alent ex­plo­sion un­der the crew com­part­ment and pro­vides pro­tec­tion to pas­sen­gers from 5.56mm and 7.62 small arms pro­tec­tion from a dis­tance of 10 me­tres. Its high torque and power to weight ra­tio en­ables op­er­a­tions in moun­tain­ous ter­rain. In Au­gust 2011, this MPV was in­ducted with the CRPF bat­tling Maoists in Jhark­hand:

Tata Mo­tors MPV: This is a 14-tonne MPV called ‘Aria’ is a four-wheel drive can and can seat eight per­sons. De­vel­oped in 2012, the com­pany claims it can with­stand big­ger blasts be­cause of its greater weight:

Ashok Ley­land MPV: The Ashok Ley­land De­fence Sys­tems MPV is a 4x4 mul­ti­pur­pose all-ter­rain ve­hi­cle with high mo­bil­ity. It of­fers pro­tec­tion to pas­sen­gers against 5.56mm and 7.62mm small arms fire, 14 kg TNT blast equiv­a­lent un­der the hull and 21 kg equiv­a­lent blast un­der the wheels. The MPV can be fit­ted with a re­mote con­trolled weapon sta­tion armed with up to 12.7mm cal­i­bre weapon. The gun­ner’s po­si­tion too can be pro­tected with an ar­mour kit. The ve­hi­cle has high mo­bil­ity with a power to weight ra­tio of 13.5 kW/T and can at­tain a max­i­mum speed of 90 kmph with a range of 1,000+ km.

In­dian FICV Project

The In­dian Army’s hunt for the fu­ture in­fantry com­bat ve­hi­cle (FICV) in­tended to re­place the In­dian Army’s 2,600 BMP-2 ve­hi­cles at an es­ti­mated cost of ` 50,000 crore, ap­pears de­layed. In early 2010, the MoD in­vited Tata Mo­tors, the Mahin­dra Group, Larsen and Toubro and the Ord­nance Fac­tory Board (OFB) to sub­mit pro­pos­als to de­velop a FICV. How­ever, the Ac­qui­si­tions Wing of the MoD had not an­nounced any cri­te­ria for se­lec­tion and go­ing by re­ports, plans to can­cel the ten­der and go for re-ten­der­ing. This im­plies a de­lay by few more years by the time the BMP-2 will be re­placed.

China

China is yet to taste real in­sur­gency and the Peo­ple’s Lib­er­a­tion Army (PLA) is so far safe from mine and IEDs. But China has al­ready de­vel­oped and pro­duced the CS/VP3, which is an APC in the MRAP cat­e­gory de­signed by Chi­nese Com­pany Poly Tech­nolo­gies. It was show­cased in 2012 at a de­fence ex­hi­bi­tion in Malaysia. The CS/VP3 has a car­riage ca­pac­ity of 2 + 10 and is ca­pa­ble of sel­f­re­cov­ery. With a com­bat weight of 15,000 kg, max­i­mum speed of 100 kmph and range of 800 km, it pro­vides pro­tec­tion from small arms (7.64mm and 7.63 AP) and 16 kg TNT equiv­a­lent blast. It can mount twin 7.62mm or 12.7mm ma­chine guns:

De­ploy­ment of MRAPs/MPVs

De­ploy­ment of MRAP ve­hi­cles ev­ery time and ev­ery­where is not without prob­lems and not without de­bate. This has been the case in In­dia too. The in­duc­tion of MPVs in the Maoist ar­eas brought down Cen­tral Re­serve Po­lice Force (CRPF) ca­su­al­ties but then the in­sur­gents started us­ing greater vol­ume of ex­plo­sives (up to 80-100 kg), as was the prac­tice with the LTTE and since the core group of Maoists was trained by the LTTE. The other fac­tors were the paucity of se­cu­rity forces in the Maoists ar­eas, which pre­cluded ef­fec­tive area dom­i­na­tion and gave time to Maoists to dig, lay ex­plo­sives and hide all signs at leisure. Maoists have easy ac­cess to ex­plo­sives and det­o­na­tors be­cause of large-scale min­ing in the area, both le­gal and il­le­gal. Avail­abil­ity of MPV also tended the se­cu­rity forces to stick to road and tracks in­stead of cross coun­try move­ment, en­abling Maoists to plan and lay am­bushes. So when ca­su­al­ties of CRPF per­son­nel started mount­ing with MPVs get­ting blown up, the Di­rec­tor Gen­eral (DG) CRPF rightly banned the use of MPVs. In J&K where area dom­i­na­tion has been ef­fec­tive, em­ploy­ment of MPVs has given good re­sults. Among the US forces in Afghanistan, there has been crit­i­cism and de­bate of dif­fer­ent kinds; com­fort lev­els in var­i­ous mod­els, men­ac­ing size in­hibit­ing lo­cals, lo­gis­tics of fuel con­sump­tion, etc. But the fact still re­mains that the US troops pre­ferred to travel in the MRAP com­pared to the Humvee for ob­vi­ous added pro­tec­tion. How­ever, the new US strategy of ‘no boots on ground’ will im­ply that the MRAP pro­duc­ing com­pa­nies in the US will hence­forth need to rely mostly on ex­ports.

Fu­ture

In­dia fac­ing a two-and-half front threat is likely to face greater tur­moil with China and Pak­istan con­tin­u­ing to wage proxy wars against us, in­creased rad­i­cal­i­sa­tion in Pak­istan and its like­li­hood to ex­port more and more ter­ror with with­drawal of the US and North At­lantic Treaty Or­gan­i­sa­tion (NATO) forces from Afghanistan. In­dia also has a un­sta­ble neigh­bour­hood with vi­o­lence rid­den Bangladesh and Myan­mar, China arm­ing to the hilt the United Wa State Army (UWSA) in Myan­mar as its proxy and at­ti­tude of the China spawned Maoists of Nepal. All this cou­pled with nu­mer­ous ter­ror­ist or­gan­i­sa­tions op­er­at­ing within In­dia, al­ready be­ing ex­ploited by our en­e­mies bodes a vi­o­lent fu­ture that may get stepped up in case we can­not ably man­age the so­cial change of our large pop­u­la­tion with 65 per cent pop­u­la­tion be­low the 35 years age group.

Con­clu­sion

The re­quire­ment of MRAPs in In­dia will re­main in the fore­see­able fu­ture. We need to pro­vide max­i­mum se­cu­rity against such threats in­clud­ing in the Maoist in­sur­gency ar­eas. The re­quire­ment is not only to re­fine our con­cepts and mea­sures of area dom­i­nance but also de­velop and pro­vi­sion MPVs that pro­vide bet­ter pro­tec­tion, in line with in­creas­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties of ter­ror­ists and in­sur­gents.

Tata’s MPV

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