As a result of combat operations in Afghanistan and Iraq (Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom) a need was identified for a series of vehicles designed to survive the explosive threats posed by the Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) as well as conventional mining and ambush tactics employed against Coalition personnel. These vehicles were collectively described as MRAP (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected) capable, and would be specifically built to defeat these threats. One such vehicle is the Cougar. Manufactured by Force Protection Inc., the Cougar has been in production, and in service since 2004.
While new to the US military, vehicles such as the Cougar are not new designs. The Cougar design can trace its origins to the Olifant Manufacturing Company of South Africa, which originally developed the multi-wheeled, "V" shaped blast hull design for use by the South African military in its operations against Angola and Namibia in the 1980s. These vehicles were designed to have good road speeds and endurance (to allow for the long distances traveled, as well as reduced maintenance requirements because of their wheeled design) and were specifically designed to maximize passenger survivability against small arms ambushes and conventionally laid mines.
In addition to the H model cougar, FMI also builds the HE combined mission variant of the Cougar, as well as the Buffalo, a dedicated EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) support vehicle.
As of 2007 all three variants are in production and service with the US military.
The H model Cougar MRAP is a 3-door, diesel powered, 3-ton capacity 4-wheel drive Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle. The Cougar-H is 19.4 feet long, 9 feet wide (spare tires mounted), and is 8.6 feet tall (not including turret splash shield.) The Cougar is equipped with an automatic transmission and in addition to the driver and co-driver, has seating for 4 additional passengers. Each seat is equipped with a 4-point safety harness. The vehicle is equipped with driver/co-driver doors, as well as double doors for the passenger compartment, and a single vehicle accessibility hatch on the roof.
The Cougar is equipped with dual A/C units (24,000/48,000 BTU/hour), is NBC overpressure and filter protected, and is equipped with a 9,000-pound capacity electrically powered winch. The unprepared fording depth is 39 inches, an approach angle of 40 degrees and a departure angle of 50 degrees. The Cougar is capable of travel both on and off road and is equipped with run-flat tire inserts. The Cougar-H is air transportable by the C-17.
The armor package provided by the Cougar-H provides all round coverage against 7.62mm ammunition (the glass is 7.62mm multi-strike resistant.) The Cougar-H can survive the detonation of a 30-pound TNT charge under the front and rear axels and a 15-pound charge under the center of the chassis. Ballistic protection is provided for the radiator, tires, battery compartment, fuel tanks, engine and transmission. The V-shaped hull is specifically designed to redirect the blats out and away from the vehicles passenger area. While the vehicle may be disabled by the explosion, its passengers will not be injured, and the vehicle can be recovered and repaired.
The Cougar-H is equipped with a diesel fueled Caterpillar C-7 I-6 turbocharged engine producing 330 horsepower and 860 ft/lb of torque and is equipped with a 6-speed Allison automatic transmission.
The Cougar-H has a curb (empty) weight of 32,000 pounds, a maximum weight of 38,000 pounds, and a load weight of 6,000 pounds. The Cougar has a top speed of approximately 65 mph, and a cruising range of approximately 420 miles.
The Cougar is equipped with a single, roof mounted weapon station. This station can accommodate a single machine gun (either M2 .50 caliber, M249 5.56mm, or M240 series 7.62mm) or the Mk. 19 40mm automatic grenade launcher. This station may be manned, or operated remotely.