Marine Armor Kit (MAK)
The Marine Armor Kit, or MAK, was a uniquely Marine product developed by Marine Corps Systems Command and Marine Corps Logistics Command. The kit was intended to give Marines had a universally applicable armor solution for the HMMWV to help shield them from the effects of improvised explosive devices and other ballistic battlefield dangers. The MAK was compatible with the M1123 cargo/troop carrier variant (in both 2- and 4-door configurations) and the M1097A2 heavy cargo carrier variant. MAK kits were later applied to the M1043A2 armament carrier.
It could be installed by operators or by contractors. The kit was modular, and could provide a minimum level of protection at 1,800 additional pounds, or full protection varying depending on the vehicle type. The full kit for the M1043A2 weighed 2,600 pounds, the kit for the M1123 in the 4-door configuration weighted 3,500 pounds, and the kits for the 2-door M1123 and M1097A2 weighted 3,800 pounds. The 2-door kits included flank protection for the rear cargo/troop area. The kits were made of a combination of Mil-A-12560 Rolled Homogenous Armor, Mil-A-46100 High Hard Steel, mild steel and ballistic glass. The armor kit included armored doors, side panels, roof, backplate, undercarriage, improved suspension springs, gunner shield kits, and an air-conditioning system. The air conditioning system was designed cool from 134 degrees F to 89 degrees F in 20 minutes. The MAK gave the Marine Corps a universally applicable armor solution for the HMMWV to help shield them from the effects of improvised explosive devices and other ballistic battlefield dangers.
The MAK's versatility was a distinct advantage over factory "up-armor" alternatives because it offered a high-level of universal protection to the existing HMMWV fleet. Components included reinforced doors with ballistic glass, flank protection kits, and an air-conditioning system.
The A2 series HMMWV perimeter armor would withstand multiple (up to 3 rounds within one square foot) 7.62x39mm M80 ball rounds fired from a one-meter standoff (Threshold) or 7.62x39 Armor Piercing (AP) rounds fired from a one hundred-meter offset (Objective). The perimeter armor, to include armor plating for the 2 door cargo area, would withstand all fragmentation smaller than 1 inch from an Improvised Explosive Devise (IED) detonated at 4 meters with a 1/4 pound of C4 (Objective). Underbody plating would withstand a M67 blast (Threshold) or a 4-pound mine blast (Objective), while providing survivability for 2-4 seated vehicle occupants based on the vehicle configuration. Overhead protection would withstand a 7.62x39mm M80 ball round fired from a 60-meter standoff and all fragmentation smaller than 1 inch from an IED detonated at 20 meters with a 1/4 pound of C4.
Previoiusly, Marines had ingeniously blended commercial off-the-shelf items and field expedient measures to achieve a comparatively high level of interim protection using ballistic blankets, commercial off-the-shelf panels and doors, and ballistic glass. Follow-on efforts, coordinated with Marine Corps Logistics Command, produced "zonal armor" protection on doors, flanks, tailgates, and underbody. However, the requirement remained for a uniform solution to the basic need for HMMWV protection.
An evolutionary process, MAK development started as a collaborative effort with the US Army, but culminated with a uniquely Marine product developed by Marine Corps Systems Command and Marine Corps Logistics Command. Designers of the MAK capitalized on the experience gained from operators in the field and from lessons learned through several rounds of ballistics testing at the US Army's Aberdeen Test Center in Maryland. Though the development stage proved to be challenging and demanding, the real daunting task would be the installation and fielding of the MAK to support Marine forces in a deployed combat environment. Project officers, design engineers, and logisticians had to wrestle with numerous variables to develop reasonable solutions to fulfill specific requirements.
It was a huge task to match armor protection against the evolving threats while staying within the carrying capacity of the wheeled vehicle fleet. It was not plausible to retrofit a HMMWV to match the armor protection of a main battle tank. The main objective was to make sure that Marines recieved the best protection possible in the time frame that they need it. The specifics were classified, but the MAK was designed to protect Marines from the prevalent threat of (improvised explosive device) attacks and other ballistic dangers.
Marine Corps Logistics Command had the production capacity and capability to manufacture the MAK, meaning that Marines would be receiving this product from an in-house provider. Coming in at approximately $34,000, fully installed, the MAK was as cost-effective as it was capable. With an initial order of several thousand kits, eventually every HMMWV in a combat environment was to be equipped with the MAK. Production continued through the spring of 2005 and additional kits could be produced as needed. In December 2004 it was estimated that installation and fielding to the deployed operational forces would take about 12 to 18 months.
The joint "up-armor" effort between the Command Element, Battalion Landing Team 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment and MEU Service Support Group-26 was completed in January 2005. More than 200 MEU vehicles including HMMWVs, 7-ton trucks, Logistic Vehicles System (LVS) and 5-ton trucks had the Marine Armor Kit installed. Of these, more than 30 were completed in the first 3 days of production. Due to this initiative, the 26th MEU operated with the full measure of protection afforded by the latest generation of military vehicle armor. A work detail consisting of BLT, Command Element and MSSG Marines working together with civilian contractors worked in 30-man shifts, 24 hours a day to ensure the all the vehicles were fully armored before departing on their deployment.
The MAK began being fielded in 2005. Installation for both systems would be operationally driven and was planned to begin between February and May 2005. Installation of 150 MAKs for 26th MEU's impending deployment were completed by March 2005. Installation for HMMWVs in Iraq began in late February 2005 and continued through March 2005, with 25 kits completed at Camp Al Taqaddum. All A2 series HMMWVs were to have the kits installed by the end of December 2005. Procurement quantity of 2,750 of the required 5,550 HMMWV 3rd generation MAK armor kits were funded and under contract by March 2005. OCONUS installations were underway at that time (23 kits installed) and were expected to ramp up to a rate of approximately 200 per month until the last armoring upgrade was completed, to be done by the end of December 2005. The High Mobility Multi-Purpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV) Marine Armor Kit installations (2,545 required/2,698 completed) were completed in November 2005.
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