The Cougar vehicles were deployed in Iraq. Credit: US Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Charles Howard.
The Cougar Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles are produced by General Dynamics Land Systems, U.S. Army photo by Jim Hinnant, 401st Army Field Support Brigade.
The Cougar joint explosive ordnance rapid response vehicle (JERRV) of Seabees prepares to receive prechecks prior to its inaugural convoy mission. US Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Shane Montgomery.
The Cougar Hardened Engineer Vehicle of the US Marine Corps operating in Iraq. US Army photo by Cpl. William Skelton.
A joint explosive ordnance rapid response vehicle (JERRV) stationed at Balad Air Base, Iraq. US Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Nathan Doza.

The Cougar MRAP vehicles were commissioned under the Mine-Resistant Ambush Protection (MRAP) programme of the US Department of Defense (DoD).

The Cougar family of MRAP vehicles is manufactured by General Dynamics Land Systems. The Cougar vehicles had been produced by Force Protection until it was acquired by General Dynamics in December 2011.

The Cougar MRAP is used in urban and confined areas in command and control, explosive ordnance disposal (EOD), patrol, convoy support, forward observation, reconnaissance and medical evacuation (Med-Evac) missions. It is primarily designed to reduce the casualties caused by threats such as improvised explosive device (IED) detonations and small arms fire (SAF), increasing the survivability of the occupants.

The Cougar armoured vehicles are operated by forces in the US, Canada, Hungary, Iraq, Italy, Poland, and the UK.

Cougar MRAP variants

The Cougar vehicle platform comes in two primary variants, namely CAT I and CAT II, both integrated with upgraded independent suspension systems. The CAT I is a 4×4 variant used to conduct mounted patrols, reconnaissance, communications, and command and control to support small unit combat operations. It can accommodate five crew members and a gunner.

The CAT II is a 6×6 variant that can be deployed to conduct security, and troop and cargo transportation in support of multi-mission combat operations. The vehicle can transport nine crew members and a gunner. Some of the Cougar CAT I vehicles were fitted with the Saber tube-launched, optically tracked, wire-guided (TOW) system to defeat armoured and urban enclosed threats. Saber is an anti-heavy armour missile system. Several Cougar CAT II vehicles were converted into ambulance variants to transport and provide emergency care to personnel injured on the battlefield.

The live-fire testing of the Cougar CAT II A1 with the seat survivability upgrade (SSU) was completed at the Aberdeen Test Center (ATC), Maryland in June 2016. Five live-fire egress tests were completed between June 2016 and August 2016. Further, 100 Cougar CAT II A1 vehicles were retrofitted with SSU kits for enhanced survivability.

The mission variants include the Cougar HEV (Hardened Engineer Vehicle), Cougar JERRV (Joint EOD rapid response vehicle), Cougar ISS (independent suspension system), Cougar MRAP, Badger ILAV (Iraqi Light Armoured Vehicle), Ridgback PPV (Protected Patrol Vehicle), Mastiff PPV, Wolfhound heavy tactical support vehicle, and Tempest MPV.

Cougar MRAP design features

The Cougar MRAP vehicles incorporate a monocoque V-shaped chassis mounting bullet-proof and blast-proof body. The conventional layout houses an engine in the front, crew cabin in the middle, and features a troop compartment at the rear. The driver and commander in the cab are protected by two rectangular transparent armoured glass windows.

The driver and commander can enter and exit the vehicle through the doors on either side of the cab. The troop compartment is provided with a double door in the rear of the vehicle. The roof is fitted with a standard hatch. Either side of the troop compartment and all access doors are provided with observation windows. The vehicle can accommodate six passengers in 4×4 configuration and ten passengers in the 6×6 configuration.

Armament of the MRAP

The standard Cougar comes with no armament outfit. The vehicle can be fitted with a remotely controlled weapon station mounting a 7.62mm machine gun, 12.7mm heavy machine gun or a 40mm automatic grenade launcher.

Self-protection of the Cougar MRAP

The Cougar MRAP vehicle offers protection against direct fire. It features protection against 7.62mm armour-piercing (AP) rounds, rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) rounds, land mines and improvised explosive devices (IEDs). The V-shaped hull reduces the impact of blasts by directing the blast away from the vehicle. The vehicle can withstand the double TM-57 mine-equivalent explosion under any wheel, and a single explosion under the middle of the vehicle. The Cougar vehicles are optionally equipped with nuclear, biological, and chemical (NBC) protection systems.

Engine and mobility of the Cougar MRAP

The Cougar MRAP vehicle is powered by a Caterpillar C-7 diesel engine coupled to a six-speed Allison 3500 SP series automatic transmission. The 330hp engine generates a maximum torque of 1,166nm at 1,450rpm.

The vehicles are fitted with Hutchinson VFI (Variable Function Insert) runflats on all wheels. Cougar has a maximum speed of 104km/h and a range of 675km. It can ford a depth of 99cm. It can be airlifted by the C-17 transport aircraft.

Orders and deliveries of Cougar MRAP

The Cougar vehicles were ordered by the US Marine Corps (USMC) in 2004 for deployment in Iraq. The US DoD placed a $50m contract in May 2006 for 79 Cougar Joint Explosive Ordnance Disposal Rapid Response Vehicles (JERRV). An additional 200 Cougar JERRVs were ordered by the USMC in November 2006.

In August 2006, the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) placed a $63m contract for 86 Cougar EOD vehicles under foreign military sales (FMS) programme. The British Cougar vehicles are designated as Mastiff Protected Patrol Vehicles (Mastiff PPV).

In December 2006, Force Protection and General Dynamics Land Systems formed a joint venture called Force Dynamics to offer Cougar 4×4 and 6×6 vehicles for the US Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle programme. The company received an order in January 2007 for the testing and evaluation of two Cougar H and two Cougar HE vehicles under the MRAP programme.

In February 2007, Force Protection was awarded a $67.4m contract for 65 Cougar 4×4 CAT I and 60 Cougar 6×6 CAT II vehicles. In April 2007, the USMC placed a $490m contract for 300 CAT I Cougar 4×4 and 700 CAT II Cougar 6×6 vehicles under MRAP programme. The US Navy placed a $221m order for 395 CAT I and 60 CAT II Cougars in June 2007.

The UK MoD placed a contract for 157 Ridgback vehicles in June 2008. Ridgback is a modified Cougar 4×4 vehicle developed for the British forces.

The US Army placed a $228m contract with Force Protection for the supply of redesigned TAK-4 independent suspension kits for 1,317 Cougar MRAP vehicles in July 2009.

In February 2010, Force Protection received a $16.1m FMS contract from the USMC for 23 Cougar Mastiff EOD variants to be delivered to the UK. It signed a $24m contract with the USMC for 30 Cougar Category I MRAP vehicles in May 2010.

The company received a $27.4m subcontract from Integrated Survivability Technologies to deliver 47 Cougar Mastiff vehicles to the UK MoD in April 2011.

The USMC retained 1,337 CAT I A1 vehicles, 59 CAT I A1 TOW, 300 CAT II A1, 19 Cougar A2 Ambulance, ten Cougar CAT II Mounted Communications Emitter Sensing Attack System in its enduring fleet following the dissolution of the MRAP Joint Program Office (JPO) in 2014.

General Dynamics Land Systems received a $26m contract from the US Marine Corps Systems Command (MCSC) to perform survivability upgrades for the previously delivered Cougar combat vehicles in February 2014. The contract covered the design and production of 468 SSU kits for the vehicles, including energy-absorbing seats, five-point seatbelts, and blast mats. It also included the reconfiguration of the internal crew automatic fire extinguisher system, upgrades to the compartments of the driver and co-driver, and enhancements to interior design and stowage.

An additional contract worth $74.7m was awarded by the MCSC in April 20214 for the supply of egress upgrade kits for the Cougar survivability upgrade programme. The contract included the delivery of 916 egress kits with upgrades to the front and rear doors, rear steps, and exhaust system.

The Polish Ministry of National Defence announced in November 2021 that it would acquire 300 used Cougar 4×4 vehicles for its army under the FMS programme of the US Government. The vehicles are expected to be delivered to the Polish Army by 2022.