MRAPs Prove Vulnerable to Special IED

MRAP-row.jpg

I’d heard about this but it only recently popped up on the wires…

New Concerns After 2 Die in MRAP

The deaths of two U.S. Soldiers in western Baghdad last week have sparked concerns that Iraqi insurgents have developed a new weapon capable of striking what the U.S. military considers its most explosive-resistant vehicle.

The Soldiers were riding in a Mine Resistant Ambush Protective vehicle, known as an MRAP, when an explosion sent a blast of super-heated metal through the MRAP’s armor and into the vehicle, killing them both.

Their deaths brought to eight the number of American troops killed while riding in an MRAP, which was developed and deployed to Iraq last year after years of acrimony over light armor on the Army’s workhorse vehicle, the Humvee.

The military has praised the vehicles for saving hundreds of lives, saying they could withstand the IEDs, or improvised explosive devices, which have been the biggest killers of Americans in Iraq. The Pentagon has set aside $5.4 billion to acquire 4,000 MRAPs at more than $1 million each, making the MRAP the Defense Department’s third largest acquisition program, behind missile defense and the Joint Strike Fighter.

But last Wednesday’s attack has shown that the MRAPs are vulnerable to an especially potent form of IED known as an EFP, for explosively formed penetrator, which fires a superheated cone of metal through the vehicle’s armor.

Military officials are still trying to determine whether last week’s attack is a sign of “new vulnerabilities (in the vehicle) or new (weapons) capabilities” on the part of insurgents, said Navy Capt. John Kirby, a spokesman for Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

And I know one other weapon that will slice through an MRAP “like a hot knife through butter” according to a Navy EOD tech I rode with in a JERV in Iraq, but I won’t say it here (anyone who knows MRAPs well enough will know what I’m talking about).

I guess it didn’t take long for the IED arms race to catch up with the MRAP.

— Christian

  • pedestrian

    It’s time to bring the EFP resisting MRAP II “Ceradyne Bull” to Iraq. Any words from Pentagon about phase shifting to Ceradyne Bull yet? It’s time to tell Iran and Hezbollah the gloden ages of EFP are about to end. Oh, and please don’t attempt to steal from us, Israel.

  • coolhand77

    Oh puleeze, whats with the Israel bashing all the sudden…come on, get over it, they are just another country looking out for their own best interest and surrounded on every side by enemies. Hell, we’ve probably GIVEN them more than they have “stolen” from us.
    Not much CAN stop an EFP, just because of the nature of the projectile. An EFP is NOT an IED…EFPs are purpose built armor penetrators, which means these are more than just “locals” using old ordinance to blow up our vehicles.

  • HumanPestControl

    Why is the even news? These are not M1’s or even Bradley’s or Strykers. They are way more protected than any Hummer deathtrap. But they are not EFP or RPG proof; at least not until they are upgraded-which have built in capabilities for the heavier armor packages for EFP, the military was hoping not to use. Looks like the EFP threat is increasing, after all. Shocking.
    But since the US is fighting Iran, not some rag tag Shia militia, expect more effective anti-armor and anti-aircraft weapons. Expect MANPAD and ATGM kill teams next, surprisingly haven’t shown up, yet. Thank god we have F’22s [couldn’t resist]. Lebanon anyone?

    • Cory

      What’s a MANPAD and ATGM?

  • Vstress

    Why not strap some explosive reactive armour to the bottom of the v-hull?
    I guess if we are looking for answers to this next phase, I guess this is the only true answer.
    The next phase for them is a dual efp design… which I guess would be much more difficult, but obviously, as with all things, you can always figure out a solution. So I wouldn’t put it past them, no matter what we create I guess they can defeat.
    Only thing is though, that the more difficult we make it, we increase the chances of them failing.

  • Roy Smith

    Besides the “conspiracy theories” about “who” is really both supplying AND arming those EFP IEDs(& also,by the way,doing the sniping against our troops),I heard that EFP IEDs had depleted uranium in them which is how they can penetrate ALL armor so well.The truth is that if you make a big enough bomb,you can blow anything up.The Palestinians proved that you could even blow up a Merkava Tank if you had enough explosives.
    Here is an interesting question,again not pointing any fingers,what if someone on base(FOB) knew in advance what convoys were going out,where they were going,& who would be in them? What if someone planted a device on any particular vehicle that would set off the IED specifically planted to take it out? Maybe I’m paranoid,but “perfect paranoia is perfect awareness.” Maybe when the drivers do PMCS on their vehicles,they can check to make sure that devices that have no business being on their vehicles are not there &/or remove the suspicious devices that are there.Maybe they should put out some more money for those hand held mirrors they use to check under vehicles for explosive devices.They should extensively check out any vehicle they have received from depot that has been worked on by “civilian contractors.” maybe I’m nuts,but if these soldiers want to return home alive,what would it hurt to do such excessive “paranoid” checks on their vehicles?

  • Rick

    This is the kind of story that gets my goat.
    The ‘penetrator’ from an EFP is a metal fragment traveling at several miles per second. Faster in fact than most sabot rounds fired from cannons. It will penetrate anything in the inventory - including an 85 ton M1 tank. To expect a lighter vehicle to withstand one is a pipe dream that simply will not happen.
    Ditto for an RPG, or any other fair sized shape charge weapon - which I expect, is the ‘other thing’ refered to above.
    That’s not news to the bad guys Christian. That’s just battlefield physics. Weapons designed to kill tanks (and RPG’s are designed for just that purpose) eat lighter vehicles for lunch. It’s always been that way and it WILL always be that way.
    The explosive/reactive armor that some have asked about could help with the shaped charge weapons. But it will do nothing against an EFP. That’s because the ‘armor’ works by creating a shock wave that disrupts the jet of gas a shape charge creates when it is detonated. That gas traveling at many miles per second is what does the damage. With an EFP there is just a metal slug. When it hits you’re done.

  • Will

    An Explosively Formed Projectile is created by the detonation of the warhead before it contacts the target. This is in contrast to an ordinary hollow charge, which should a detonate a short distance from the target. Explosive Reactive Armor will not, as a rule, interfere with it. ATGMs such as the TOW III & the Swedish Bill have EFP warheads in order to destroy AFVs with ERA.

  • Roy Smith

    I’ll say it again,soldiers & marines need to check their own vehicles “religiously” to make sure that no one has put any “trigger device” on them that will set off any IED planted in the road.If you ask who would plant such a device in what is supposed to be a secure location,you’d have to ask who benefits from us fighting “terrorists” in iraq & Afghanistan(“who” benefited from Iraq & Iran fighting each other in the 80’s? Who sold each side information AND weapons to keep the war dragging on?).”Who” have favored status & access to our military in Iraq AND knows when each convoy will leave & what is in each convoy? Who knows which convoy to hit to cause maximum shock value(like the marine convoy hit in the Anbar province,I believe in 2004,where so many female marines & soldiers were killed,including 4 females taken hostage & later found dead with their throats cut) & most likely promote more rage to keep this fighting going? When you can answer THAT question,then you have solved the IED problem.

  • Roy Smith

    I’ll say it again,soldiers & marines need to check their own vehicles “religiously” to make sure that no one has put any “trigger device” on them that will set off any IED planted in the road.If you ask who would plant such a device in what is supposed to be a secure location,you’d have to ask who benefits from us fighting “terrorists” in iraq & Afghanistan(“who” benefited from Iraq & Iran fighting each other in the 80’s? Who sold each side information AND weapons to keep the war dragging on?).”Who” has favored status & access to our military in Iraq AND knows when each convoy will leave & what is in each convoy? Who knows which convoy to hit to cause maximum shock value(like the marine convoy hit in the Anbar province,I believe in 2004,where so many female marines & soldiers were killed,including 4 females taken hostage & later found dead with their throats cut) & most likely promote more rage to keep this fighting going? When you can answer THAT question,then you have solved the IED problem.

  • kensei

    This is not news EFPs routinely kill M1s in country. MRAP is still a hell of a lot better than the 1114 I get to ride in while the rest of my team ride in new “light” MRAPs. EFPs are not that prevalent yet but they will kill any thing out there, lets hope we can keep the local and foreign production down.

  • shawn

    What about the cage like what is on the Stryker? Would that trigger the EFP and cause it to form the cone before it gets to the armor? I thought that was the reason for the cage on the strykers. I know alot of you out there are more knowledgeable about this that I am.

  • SW1911

    The cage on the stryker is for catching RPGs early, not EFPs. An EFP basically turns into a mini sabot round that will go through absolutely anything. This isn’t the fault of the MRAP and there isn’t really a good way to defend against them, other then to cut off the supply. Obviously these are being shipped in by Iran. They aren’t complex but require some degree of industry to make, which makes it unfeasible for insurgents to make them in their backyards.
    EFPs are made of copper. Absolutely nothing else. Exactly where would Iran or the insurgents get DU? Wouldn’t we be finding guys with 3 arms? What an asinine suggestion. Clearly made by someone whos sum total of experience in war comes from playing Call of Duty in a comfy arm chair.
    I’m surprised SA7 Grails and Anti-tank missiles haven’t shown up en masse in Iraq yet. You’d think Iran would love to shoot down some Apaches or a big juicy transport.

  • Christian

    Shawn, you’ve got a good point there. That’s why the cage works against RPGs. So couldn’t the cage work by spalling the copper penetrator before it gets to the vehicle armor?
    And all you nitwits who refuse to believe that at least some of the EFPs come directly from Iran, I know it for a fact. I have seen an Iranian one and an Iraqi-made one with my own eyes. One is clearly manufactured with precision tooling and high end materials, the others are banged out from scraps in someone’s garage. One works, one frequently doesn’t. Guess which one…
    And it’s a story because the MRAP is the 3rd largest DoD-wide acquisition program and the expectation was that it would change the dynamic on the battlefield. Now we know that a roadside bomb that’s readily available in Iraq can defeat it. Doesn’t that raise some question about the $5 billion being spent on them? How about spending 1/4 that on sniper teams? Want to see the #1 best IED defeat weapon? One shot one kill.
    CAL

  • Foreign.Boy

    Christian,
    Before you even said in this blog that EFP wouldn’t be stopped by a MRAP. The MRAP provides protection from IEDs and Mines. But not EFP. To put EFP’s in the same class as an IED or a mine would be wrong. Wouldn’t it?
    The way they work is different and the way they kill/destroy is different. Maybe I’m not getting the point of this article…
    But comparing the protection of a MRAP and EFP’s is like comparing the protection from an AK-47 to a tank.

  • TB

    Roy,
    Take a breather, go for a walk, and have a dip. IEDs aren’t set off by some vast conspiracy of devices planted on vehicles, so knock it off. IEDs and EFPs are detonated like any other weapon system in the world. Either with a timer, a pressure plate, an RF signal, or a guy with a wire and a switch. We’re on the roads so much in Iraq you don’t need to be a genius to know when a convoy is going to show up.
    MRAPs are called “resistant” because the DoD isn’t foolish enough to call something mine “proof.” There will always be a bigger mine. As stated by others, the physics behind an EFP really can’t be beat by vehicular armor. There are a few ways to beat an EFP that I’ve seen, but they aren’t practical, nor are they public knowledge.
    Christian, I’ve probably seen the same weapons caches that you were shown, and yes, there is a major difference between IEDs made out of machined metal and those made from a plastic coke bottle.

  • jack

    Since a EFP can take out an M1A2 tank i doubt it would have much trouble penetrating the shell of a MRAP.
    Jack

  • pfcem

    As I have ALWAYS said MRAP vehicles are “good” against IEDs but not-so-good against “real” anti-vehicle weapons. Many of us (maybe not so many) knew this day would come & suddenly everybody would have questions about MRAP vehicles just like us. Unfortunatley TOO MANY fell hook line & sinker for MRAP as THE answer to “all our problems” & now we are (& have been) spending $ billions on specilized convoy vehicles which do do well against the most common threat in Iraq but are of limited usefulness against most/all other threats.
    ***
    Roy Smith,
    Don’t drink the water. ;)
    Just because you are paranoide doesn’t mean they AREN’T arfer you…
    It is TRUELY sad that there are those who are more willing to accept that there is some comspiracy within the US government/military to kill ITS OWN CITIZENS/TROOPS for little more than their own economic gain than that there are in fact OTHER people in the world who wish us harm. ;(

  • pedestrian

    EFPs could be defeated. Probably no one could guess what it is. I just wonder if the technology I assume was applied on Ceradyne Bull. There is another possible method in my mind, but it’s not availible at this point.

  • HumanPestControl

    People on this board keep claiming an insurgent EFP can defeat an M1A2’s armor. I seriously doubt that. An IED EFP weapon will probably only penetrate 100-200mm RHAe, if it’s lucky. An M1A2 has 600-950mm RHAe protection against KE threats and 600-1600mm RHAe of protection against CE threats. TUSK upgrades offer even more protection.
    Since Desert Storm, there have only been a handful of enemy weapons that somehow managed to penetrate a M1’s hull, and we are talking about actual dedicated, somewhat modern, anti-tank weapons. An M1 has defeated threats from 125mm HEAT and W SABOT rounds, ATGM, RPG’s, various IED’s, EFP’s, heavy machine guns, and survived without losing hull integrity. (not including fratricide, or the few massive underbelly IED’s). Practically every M1 in Iraq has been attacked, and the crew survives; most tanks are patched up and sent back to the streets of Iraq.
    Need to keep the EFP threat in perspective. A problem for current MRAP’s, maybe, but not M1’s. current MRAP’s will be upgraded if the threat is really there. Also, MRAP 2 is testing now, but those are like 30-40 ton trucks.
    70 tons of Chobham/DU armor is good for something.

  • Davod Hambling

    The description of an EFP is not correct - it is an aerodynamic slug (unlike a normal shaped charge which projects a narrow, short-range jet) , and it is not superheated.
    The gist of the article seems correct though.
    .
    Note that all vehicles have weak points; in one well-known instance an Abrams was knocked out by a 25mm APDS round from a Bradley from behind, so a large EFP could certainly do it.

  • Christian

    Foreign Boy,
    Do you think for one second the people who appropriated $5 billion for 4,000 MRAPs make the IED/EFP distinction? Do you think for one second the services who accepted this money tried to diabuse them of the distinction?
    Tell you what, I’ll call them “roadside bombs”…does that cover it?
    TB…Speicher EOD. The garage-made ones were more than Coke bottoles, but they were hammered copper rather than machined…

  • Riceball

    “People on this board keep claiming an insurgent EFP can defeat an M1A2’s armor. I seriously doubt that. An IED EFP weapon will probably only penetrate 100-200mm RHAe, if it’s lucky. An M1A2 has 600-950mm RHAe protection against KE threats and 600-1600mm RHAe of protection against CE threats. TUSK upgrades offer even more protection.”
    While I agree that an M1 is one of the most heavily armored tanks around and going by your math and IED grade EFP shouldn’t kill an M1 but I have to ask what part of the M1 are you citing? Is that 600 - 950 all around or just in the front? I’m sure that a decent sized EFP set off underneath an M1 might cause a bit of damage, it would certainly take a far smaller EFP to go through the bottom of an M1 than it would from the front or side.

  • Trent Telenko

    For those wanting to view evidence of M1A2 Abrams destroyed in Iraq, this link will be of interest.
    http://www.leechvideo.com/video/view1587057.html

  • Trent Telenko

    For those wanting to understand just what an “EFP is, see below:
    This is a link to a picture of an EFP in flight:
    http://www.military.com/soldiertech/0,14632,Soldiertech_EFP,,00.html
    And this link has a very good technical summary of what an explosively forged projectile is:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Explosively_formed_penetrator
    Google can be your friend.

  • Trent Telenko

    This is what it means to be in an MRAP versus an armored Humvee:
    http://www.strategypage.com/htmw/htarm/articles/20080409.aspx
    “”Passengers in these vehicles are much less likely to be killed or injured if they encounter a roadside bomb. Thus if all the troops who encountered these bombs were in a MRAP, casualties would be up to 65 percent less. Until about a year ago, about two-thirds of all casualties in Iraq were from roadside bombs. Thus the army and marines expected widespread use of these vehicles to reduce overall casualties by about a third. But in the last year, the use of IEDs (roadside bombs) has fallen by two-thirds. Still, experience so far shows that troops are about five times more likely to be killed or injured if in an armored hummer, rather than an MRAP. The marines, for example, have not had anyone, in an MRAP when hit by an IED, killed or seriously injured. But this has been expensive. The bomb resistant vehicles cost about five times more than armored hummers or trucks.””

  • Foreign.Boy

    Christian
    The money spent is more of a political ante/wager for the people in my opinion. Just trying to make it seem like the government can make a difference.
    Roadside bombs are a better term than IED’s. However, I just thought you audience was tuned in enough that they’d understand the difference.
    Your coverage of EFP in the current war(s?) has informed me very well. While I think this article is a (well deserved) self horn blowing (because you called it). I still think better protection of the MRAP is still better than the some protection of the alternative.
    Of course.. it is only a matter of time until the effects of an EFP will be neutralized if at all possible. Until that happens black hawks and V22s will be the best way to keep soldiers alive.

  • Doc

    Some of you have a pretty good idea what an IED and an EFP IED can do to a vehicle. One of you, and I’m not pointing fingers, really do not have a clue what you are saying. Maybe because you stayed at a holiday inn and read a few reports or articles it still doesn’t make you an expert to comment about such things (IED and MRAP).
    Before you talk about paranoia, understand what CIED is about. There is a device out there that will counter REMOTE triggering devices but not command, pressure, or victim operated devices. There are so many things to trigger an explosive, just keep that in mind.
    These insurgents have changed their tactics since more and more IEDs are found and disarmed/destroyed before it can hurt our own. As we adapt to changes, they adapt as well. You will not stop an EFP unless you multiple layers of various protection. So, if you really haven’t seen one of these in real life, just keep your tone down. It is a simple design with deadly results. I almost lost a good friend and commander with one of these. I physically had witnessed its effects. ANGLES can deflect it but not a 100% guarantee.
    Doc

  • russian

    it is a horrible idea to fly black hawk in iraq any insurgent can go to the “goody shop in iran and pick up fifty cal rifle and shoot it down

  • av videolar?

    wanderfull

  • av videolar?

    wanderfull galery
    dddf

  • Michael Brown

    I also am a DOD Civilian who is/was deployed to IRAQ to work as a Mechanic along side Soldiers on the MRAP Vehicles. I would like to say just one thing to Aaron Ramsey….
    SHUT UP! You DO know what your talking about, but you should NOT be putting it on ANY forum for ANYONE to read. OPSEC…It’s NOT just a funny acrinim… Please DO NOT be so descriptive about our NUMBER 1 LIFE SAVING VEHICLE!

  • john e watson

    The first thing is to find ieds efp mines the gpr on the husky will not sweep the entire road or area the gpr and magnetometer needs to be on a frame to work on excavator