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.
The Buffalo, built by Force Protection Inc., is the largest of its fleet of MRAP vehicles. Classified as a category III protected vehicle, the Buffalo is officially designated as an MPRC (Mine Protected Route Clearing) vehicle, and is specifically designed to patrol roads and identify and either defeat, disarm, or remove mines and IEDs (improvised explosive devices.)
The Buffalo is a direct descendant of the South African Casspir mine protected vehicle, which was developed in the 1970 and used extensively by SA police and military forces in the 1980s. The most notable difference between the two is the presence of a second drive axel and a large, claw equipped telescopic arm fitted on the Buffalo. Like the Casspir, the Buffalo was designed to have good road speed and endurance, reduced maintenance requirements, and specifically designed to maximize passenger survivability against small arms ambushes and conventionally laid mines and explosives.
As of 2007 the Buffalo in production and service with the US military.
The Buffalo MPRC is a single-door, diesel driven, 19-ton capacity 6-wheel drive Mine Protected Route Clearing vehicle. The Buffalo is 26.9 feet long, 8 feet wide, and is 9.75 feet tall (not including turret splash shields.) The Buffalo is equipped with an automatic transmission and in addition to the driver and co-driver, has seating for 12 additional passengers. Each seat is equipped with a 4-point safety harness. The vehicle is equipped with a single aft mounted access door, as well as six roof-mounted hatches in the passenger compartment.
The Buffalo is equipped with dual A/C units (24,000/44,000 BTU/hour), is NBC overpressure and filter protected, and, unlike the Cougar, is not equipped with a winch. The Buffalo has an unprepared fording depth of 40 inches, an approach angle of 40 degrees and a departure angle of 45 degrees. The Buffalo is capable of travel both on and off road and is equipped with run-flat tire inserts. The Buffalo is air transportable by the C-17.
The armor package provided by the Buffalo provides all round coverage against 7.62mm ammunition (the glass is 7.62mm multi-strike resistant.) 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 blast out and away from the vehicle's passenger area. While the explosion may disable the vehicle, its passengers will not be injured, and the vehicle can be recovered and repaired.
The Buffalo is equipped with a hydraulically-powered articulated "claw" operated remotely from within the vehicle, which can be used to dig, extract, and remove objects in the soil without exposing the vehicle’s crew.
The Buffalo is equipped with a diesel fueled Mack ASET AI-400 I-6 turbocharged diesel engine producing 450 horsepower and 1,450 ft/lb of torque and is equipped with a 5-speed automatic transmission.
The Buffalo has a curb (empty) weight of 45,300 pounds, a maximum weight of 84,000 pounds, and a load weight of 38,680 pounds. The Buffalo has a top speed of approximately 65 mph, and a cruising range of approximately 382 miles.
The Buffalo is equipped with a single, remotely operated 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.