TechUkraine's frontline MRAPs: Enduring against FPV drone attacks

Ukraine's frontline MRAPs: Enduring against FPV drone attacks

A Ukrainian MRAP MaxxPro on its way to pick up a wounded soldier is being attacked by a swarm of Russian FPV drones.
A Ukrainian MRAP MaxxPro on its way to pick up a wounded soldier is being attacked by a swarm of Russian FPV drones.
Images source: © X (formerly Twitter) | Ukrainian Front

2:37 PM EDT, June 2, 2024

Ukraine has received a substantial number of MRAP vehicles from the USA. While these vehicles are not the perfect solution for the combat conditions there, they can withstand multiple hits from FPV drones, notorious for destroying powerful tanks.

In the video below, filmed near Chasiv Yar, a Ukrainian MRAP (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected) MaxxPro vehicle can be seen. During its journey to retrieve a wounded soldier (in the full version of the video), it was struck several times on the front line by FPV drones.

The MaxxPro withstood the hits as if nothing had happened, a feat that Soviet-era tanks and the BMP/BMD family of infantry fighting vehicles often fail to achieve when targeted by these drones.

The secret to the resilience of MRAP vehicles

MaxxPro, like other MRAP designs, are specialized vehicles intended for use in expeditionary missions where the greatest threats are mines, improvised explosive devices (IEDs), and ambushes with handheld anti-tank weapons such as RPG-7 launchers.

In such conditions, the use of standard vehicles like the HMMWV proved too problematic, creating a need for something more durable yet cheaper than infantry fighting vehicles, which could transport a six-person squad, for example.

The solution was to design a heavily armored vehicle with a 4x4 drive, and one of the many variants is the MaxxPro, produced by Navistar Defense. The MaxxPro is a robust design with a curb weight of up to 38,000 lbs (depending on the protection class), optimized for surviving explosive charges and providing protection from machine gun fire.

A V-shaped hull helps disperse the shock wave to the sides, allowing the manufacturer to claim that the MRAP can withstand a 15-lb explosive charge without incurring damage.

Over time, nets were also developed for these vehicles to keep single-warhead grenades from PG-7VL (widely used on FPV drones) away from the armor. The war in Ukraine also demonstrated that these vehicles are very resistant to artillery shell fragments.

However, these vehicles are not without flaws. The biggest issue is their very high center of gravity, which makes them highly visible and difficult to camouflage. Additionally, this could theoretically increase the risk of tipping over when traversing difficult terrain.

Their mobility in challenging terrain is not the best, a fact particularly felt by Ukrainians during the spring and autumn rasputitsa when backroads turn into swamps. In such conditions, the traction of tracked infantry fighting vehicles proves indispensable. It’s a reality Americans understood well, leading them to sell their MRAPs en masse after their missions in Iraq and Afghanistan ended.

As a result, many of these vehicles have found their way to Ukraine, where they continue to be very useful, especially in the summer months, saving soldiers' lives.

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