The four-wheeled, 20,800lb Cheetah MRAP all-terrain vehicle (M-ATV) is the newest addition to the Force Dynamics (a joint venture between Force Protection and General Dynamics Land Systems) family of armoured M-ATVs. The Cheetah incorporates blast protection technology with the mobility of a light armoured vehicle. It was developed to keep the war fighter safe and tackle evolving threats.
Force Dynamics started low-rate production of the Cheetah at its Ladson, South Carolina, facility in March 2009. The company also started to procure long-lead materials to shift from limited to extended production.
Cheetah MRAP features
The Cheetah has features similar to that of the Cougar in terms of survivability at half the curb weight of 20,800lb. With a top speed of 77mph, the Cheetah can travel over 330 miles without refuelling. It can accelerate from 0 to 30mph in 10.3 seconds and is equipped with a multiuser distributed data display and control system.
The Cheetah is multimission capable and is ideal for reconnaissance, forward command and control, patrol, security, escort, route clearance support, peacekeeping, EOD, and urban and close quarters operations.
The M-ATV offers maximum outside visibility through NVG-compatible direct view windows. Its reconfigurable interiors and rear part provide adaptability to different mission and vehicle roles. Reconfigurable features include two side access doors and one rear door, and crew / passenger equipment stowage.
The Cheetah uses an independent suspension and high power / weight ratio of over 23/t resulting in 300% increase in mobility. To reduce rollover potential and provide stability the Cheetah has a very low centre of gravity and a wide wheel base.
It is adaptable to all types of climates and geography – desert, mountain, jungle, tropic, urban, tundra, snow / ice, grassland and forest. Its large tyres and central tyre inflation enable soft soil traversal as well. The Cheetah offers airlift (including the C130), sealift, amphibious and MPS transportability as well.
Cheetah M-ATV armament
With a curb weight of 20,800lb and total combat weight of 23t, the Cheetah carries a maximum payload of 2,200lb. It is fully combat capable with remote weapon options, integrated surveillance sensors and gun rings that include protection kits.
Cheetah’s monocoque hull offers a high level of survivability. Its armour provides protection of up to 30lb of TNT and is designed to accommodate add-on armour as newer composites emerge. To mitigate blast effect, the Cheetah maintains the crew about 1m above ground using a high v-shaped geometry to deflect blast. The commander can select the level of protection needed depending upon the conditions. The Cheetah can also be equipped with the Force Dynamics Force Armor Kit, which offers protection against EFP (explosively formed projectiles).
The Cheetah features an automatic fire suppression system for the crew, engine and the tyres. It also has explosion-safe fuel cells, five point restrains, run-flat tyres and blast seats.
Cheetah completed blast testing sponsored by Force Protection at the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland. It also cleared the initial mobility and durability testing at the Nevada Automotive Test Center.
Cheetah communications systems
In collaboration with Raytheon Technical Services, Cheetah was equipped with a comprehensive command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance system (C4ISR) plug-and-play ready architecture.
The plug-and-play ready system, built using the C4ISR Department of Defense Architecture Framework (DoDAF), provides access to sophisticated networked video, radio switching, navigation systems, Blue Force tracking, counter-radio-controlled improvised explosive device (RCIED) electronic warfare and weapons systems.
hull offers a high level of survivability."
The system incorporates net-centric integration services for remote monitoring of integrated vehicle and C4ISR systems into a single monitoring platform.
This enables the vehicle operator and commander to have the complete systems status in real time. It also provides the interoperability necessary to ensure that all vehicle and war fighting systems perform coherently.
Such interoperability provides a strategic advantage over traditional standalone vehicle and C4SIR systems which require individual control and monitoring.
The communication system also includes remote data transfer, monitoring of platform usage, and capture of failure information. The system provides local and remote service and support teams the necessary tools to monitor and manage each vehicle system more efficiently and effectively.
TACOM M-ATV programme
Force Dynamics received a $1m indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity (IDIQ) contract in May 2009 from the US Army’s Tank Automotive and Armaments Command’s (TACOM) mine-resistant ambush-protected all-terrain vehicle programme.
The contract for three vehicles will enable the manufacturer to compete for future M-ATV orders. The contract for testing the vehicles was won after the Cheetah had passed the initial survivability and mobility screening for M-ATV solicitation.
The $1.05bn contract for 2,244 M-ATVs was won by Oshkosh in June 2009.