worldsteel | Our stories: The world's toughest and most versatile vehicle?

The world’s toughest and most versatile vehicle?

The Paramount Marauder is a mine-protected vehicle whose steel double-welded monocoque hull gives it immense versatility and protection

The Paramount Marauder is perhaps the most famous Mine Protected Vehicle, or ‘MPV’, in the world, thanks to a feature on UK television’s Top Gear where it was driven through walls, over cars, and even into a fast food drive-thru. The 2011 broadcast established the Marauder’s reputation as one of the toughest vehicles on earth – but it has the substance to back up the hype.

Core to the Marauder is its welded steel hull: it literally makes the vehicle bomb-proof

The MPV is a vehicle concept developed for use in the first Iraq war; ‘Humvees’ (High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles) were converted and given more highly protected crew compartments. They were reasonably effective, but the later war in Afghanistan demanded a vehicle with more off-road capability than the basic truck chassis of the Humvee. A smaller, lighter, more manoeuvrable vehicle was needed; the MPV was born.

Paramount Group is the largest privately-held defence and aerospace company in Africa. It worked with the King Abdullah Design and Development Bureau (KADDB) – Jordan’s government military organisation building defence systems – to design, manufacture and produce the Marauder. The vehicle was launched at the IDEX Abu Dhabi international defence exhibition and conference, the Middle East’s largest arms event, in February 2007.

 

 

Unlike the Humvee, the Marauder was optimised for use in crowded urban areas. The driver and passenger sit side-by-side, so they can easily communicate with one another, and it has large windows for excellent visibility and situational awareness – the glass is heavily reinforced. There’s space in the rear for eight fully armoured troops, and the entire cabin is climate controlled for comfort. It also carries enough fuel for a 700km range, so can perform all-day duties.

Occupants sit in anti-blast seats. This is to provide protection during the extreme acceleration experienced during explosions; even the Marauder can be thrown several metres in the air when encountering a land mine. The most common cause of injury for crews in such situations is broken ankles and legs, which the seats aim to mitigate.

 

Steeled for conflict

Core to the Marauder is its welded steel hull: it literally makes the vehicle bomb-proof. It’s a double-layered monocoque design where the structural system is incorporated into the vehicle’s skin, which is V-shaped to deflect the force of blasts. It has been proven to cope with the force of a 7kg anti-tank mine under the hull, and a double 14kg anti-tank mine under any wheel. This gives it STANAG 4659 Level 3a and 4b protection from Kinetic Energy, artillery and Improvised Explosive Device (IED) blasts.

Further protection is provided by steel armour plates that can be fitted in the internal sidewalls when needed. These provide enhanced ballistic and IED protection and are supplied in kit form and so they can provide targeted protection depending on the mission situation.

Although the Marauder weighs 9,900kg, it has a 15-tonne in-service capability, so can be equipped with an extensive array of sub-systems and items

Other proven weaponry the vehicle can withstand include 50mm cannons and M26 hand grenades, 7.62mm and 5.56mm bullets, shell fragments and the force of a 155mm high-explosive anti-tank (HEAT) explosions. The Marauder is also ready to be equipped with light and medium-calibre machine guns, cannon weapon installations, mortar firing platforms and missile launchers.

As expected, the Marauder is a large vehicle. It is 6.1 metres long, nearly 2.5 metres wide – and 2.6 metres tall. It has 42cm of ground clearance (a full-size Range Rover has 22cm) and runs on bullet-resistant run-flat Michelin tyres that have a total diameter of 127cm; the wheels themselves, with hardened-steel rims to ensure toughness, are 50cm.

 

Paramount Marauder travels down a dusty road

The Paramount Marauder’s 700km fuel range means it can operate independently for extended periods

 

There are several different variations of Marauder. The standard infantry patrol vehicle is the most well-known, but it can also be equipped as a command core and an ambulance. Its roomy climate-controlled cabin lends itself to use for security and mobile communications applications, plus other field services that involve traversing dangerous routes and off-road trails.

Although the Marauder weighs 9,900kg, it has a 15-tonne in-service capability, so can be equipped with an extensive array of sub-systems and items – and operating at well below maximum weight capacity helps improve service life and maintenance costs.

 

Versatile and reliable

The development link with the King Abdullah’s KADDB design bureau saw Jordan receive the first batch of 50 vehicles, but the largest customer to date is the Azerbaijan Republic. Vehicles were dispatched as kits known as Complete Knock-Down vehicles, or CKDs, to be assembled onsite in the country. This is another reason for the Marauder’s reliance on steel instead of other less familiar materials; the ability to be assembled with integrity far away from the original production site by less experienced crews.

The integrity of the main hull is not compromised by such remote construction, thanks to its intelligent design. It comprises three self-jigging plates, which means that expensive capital investment is not needed to assemble and produce the Marauder. The rest of the vehicle also uses a high degree of commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) content, aiding cost-effectiveness, reliability and serviceability. The range of six-cylinder engines can, for example, be serviced by commercial truck dealers.

The range of six-cylinder engines can be serviced by commercial truck dealers

Hundreds of Marauders have been produced since its introduction. Only sovereign governments are eligible to buy them – ones approved by the South African government and the UN – but its capability and high level of protection sees it today used by international organisations as well as nation states in conflict and disaster zones.

The concept has proven so successful, there is now a smaller, lighter and more manoeuvrable Marauder Patrol sister utility vehicle, whose steel construction offers STANAG Level 1 protection in base guise, and which can be upgraded to STANAG Level 2, helping protect yet more forces in the line of duty.

Its reliance on the adaptability and strength of steel has made the Paramount Marauder not only one of the toughest and most versatile vehicles in the world, it has also made it the go-to choice for countries and organisations tackling difficult and dangerous situations across the planet.

 

Images: Getty
Video: BBC Top Gear