Cougar Hardened Engineer Vehicle (HEV)
Cougar Medium Mine Protected Vehicle (MMPV)
Joint Explosive Ordnance Disposal Rapid Response Vehicles (JERRV)
The Cougar is a family of medium mine-protected vehicles. The Cougar was developed from Force Protection's Buffalo family of vehicles. The vehicles themselves had been developed by Technical Solutions Group, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Force Protection, Inc., from the Lion family of vehicles produced by the South African company Denel-Mechem. The Buffalo was developed from the Lion II, while the Cougar was a much improved derivative of the 4x4 Lion vehicle. The user-friendly vehicle was designed to protect both the driver and crew from ballistic and mine-blast threats. Force Protection, Inc. took over complete responsibility for the Cougar product line in 2005.
The Typhoon (later renamed Cougar) tactical armored and mine protected air transportable vehicle was unveiled by Technical Solutions Group, Inc. in April 2004. The vehicle was optimized for urban warfare and low intensity conflicts. The Typhoon offered very high protection level, against typical urban warfare threats, higher than the level implemented by the Buffalo. The added protection was achieved through the introduction of advanced armor with improved ballistic performance, and additional side-blast protection protecting against roadside bombs (IEDs). The Typhoon was a versatile multi-purpose vehicle that can be configured to satisfy a wide variety of mission requirements. Initially, the vehicle was available in 4x2, 4x4 or 6x6 configurations. The monocoque capsule was designed to protect personnel, the engine and transmission from both ballistic and mine blast threats. The capsule was mated with the latest in American commercial automotive technology to produce the most user-friendly and adaptable vehicle in its class.
The Cougar product line was eventually reduced to just the 4x4 and 6x6 configurations. The vehicle could be configured for a wide range of tasks including troop carrying (up to 14 in the 6x6), EOD (4 troops and a large EOD robot in the 4x4), command and control, artillery prime mover, recovery and ambulance duty. The Cougar was designed to withstand a 30-pound blast of TNT to either the front or rear axles, as well as a 15-pound blast to the center portion of the vehicle. The Cougar could be configured to complete a wide variety of mission requirements. The vehicle can serve as a mine-proof troop transport vehicle, a law enforcement special response vehicle, a weapons platform, or an escort protection vehicle. The Cougar was scalable, meaning that it could be used for humanitarian efforts, as well as combat, by detaching the arms and gun systems to look less lethal, but still protected the crew against threats. The Cougar was equipped with multi-point, racing style harnesses, so if the vehicle rolled 360 degrees, the passengers inside would avoid injury.
The Cougar also had a ballistic protection for the radiator, fuel tanks, and battery compartments. It was equipped with weapons ports, a machine gun mount on the vehicle's roof (which could accomodate a number of weapon systems, as well as improved mounts such as the Objective Gunner Protection Kit and the CROWS remotely controlled weapon station), engineer/Explosive Ordinance Disposal tool storage, 2 spare tires, and a Nuclear, Biological and Chemical over-pressure and filter system.
Ballistic glass, another feature on the Cougar, allowed troops to see and engage an enemy ambush through the gun ports in the glass not exposing themselves to fire. In a HMMMWV, gunners were usually perched above the vehicle, open to enemy fire. In some vehicles the passengers inside could see what direction enemy fire was coming from. Vision in the Cougar was intended to provide better situational awareness. It also provided added protection for combat engineers and explosive ordinance disposal personnel, who in the US Marine Corps had previously lacked adequate organic battlefield transportation capability and protection to conduct independent missions.
The US Marine Corps were the first to acquire the Buffalo family of vehicles, choosing the Hardened Engineer Vehicle variant in December 2003. The vehicle gives EOD teams and engineers the ability to maneuver with the speed, mobility and survivability equal to the ground maneuver forces within the Marine Air Ground Task Force. The formation of a joint Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) program in 2004 led the merging of various requirements and the subsequent acquisition of the Cougar family (among others) by the US Army, US Air Force, and US Navy. Vehicles were also subsequently upgraded with additional systems, such as slat/bar armor packages. A product improved Cougar A2 series was also developed.
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