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The Buffalo H MRAP is a new class of armored vehicle brought about by the necessity encountered in the current Iraq War. Heavy utilization of enemy IED systems were shown to be highly effective against the lightly armed and armored HUMVEE units used across the country. Insurgent warfare targeted these lightly armored convoys that moved through the dense streets and open country roads, necessitating the need to 'up armor' HUMVEE units to some extent. Though minimally successful, the HUMVEE as a whole is now being replaced by the MRAP units in this role.
MRAP systems are designed with a V-shaped hull that theoretically and in practice have shown to deflect the deadliest part of an explosion. At most, damage to the underside working components of a vehicle have been documented though no fatalities have been recorded from IED explosions targeting MRAPs. One particular story has one MRAP vehicle surviving no fewer than four targeted attacks, resulting in no fatal injuries, with the system still in service. This type of durability has edged the MRAP into full-scale frontline service particularly with the United States Marines in Iraq.
The six-wheeled Buffalo vehicle is also designed to 'efficiently' rollover when hit with a blast. This type of design implementation assists in keeping the system's passengers alive, even from a complete 360 degree rollover situation. Additionally, all passengers are allotted a harness similar to those found in race cars for increased passenger stability in the event of a mine or IED strike from below or from the side of the vehicle.
The high profile of the Buffalo MRAP system provides an advantage, particularly in the windowed gun ports. No longer are troops directed out of the safety of their armored vehicle to counter oncoming enemy fire. Instead, infantrymen can now safely shoot from inside the MRAP while viewing the action from the safety of the thick glass window ports. Comparatively, HUMVEE soldiers are exposed either from their .50 caliber perch atop the vehicle or trying to engage a hidden enemy from behind their bulky fabric or light armor doors with minimal overall visibility of the action.
The concept of the V-shaped mono-hull chassis is nearly forty years old and was first developed in South Africa to counter land mines throughout the Bush Wars there. The idea then, as it still relates today, was to protect the main operating area of the hull - including passengers - at the risk of losing an axel or a wheel or two. The result would be a crew that is kept relatively safe and alive while minimizing structural damage to the vehicle. Needless to say, the vehicle would be out on repair for days to weeks, but compare that to the entire loss of the vehicle and one begins to see the value of an MRAP-type system. The MRAP is fully adaptable as well, and can have it's armament removed in the role of armored transport or medical evacuation unit.
Production totals of the MRAP system as a whole with the United States Marine Corps - as of this writing - is set to achieve 5,000 examples since introduction in the Fall of 2004. Production is fur