Mine resistant, ambush protected (MRAP) vehicles given to the Peshmerga by the US have been described as offering the protection of a “sardine can” by an ex-Special Forces member.
Commenting on photos seen by Fox News, Phil Hudicourt criticised the delivery of vehicles without protective side armour.
“The military calls it an ‘RPG magnet’. I don’t know [at] what level it was made, if it was made at a low level, high level, but it’s a pretty stupid decision. Because riding in those MRAPs, with all the amount of RPG 29s in the country, is committing suicide.
“The RPG29 is a tandem rocket, dual warhead rocket, and without the plates, can go through the side of an MRAP like it was a sardine can.”
In a statement the US State Department explained the MRAPs are protected against land mines and improvised explosive devices (IEDs), but that the side armour is an upgrade to the vehicle, and one that they are unable to provide.
“The State Department reviews each EDA [Excess Defence Articles] request on a case-by-case basis that considers the needs of potential recipients, safeguarding potentially sensitive defence technologies, as well as the ability of the recipient to operate and sustain the equipment, among other factors. Under US policy, Anti-EFP (Explosive Formed Penetrator), or any other types of vehicle Side-Armour, are not part of the MRAPs standard configuration and is not exportable. Partners do have the option to install their own or purchase comparable systems elsewhere.”
A former Pentagon official from the Bush administration claimed that without the side armour the MRAPs are useless in the face of Russian RPGs taken as spoils by Islamic State from the Syrian regime.
“Without the plates, the RPG is specially designed to attack armoured vehicles,” said Steve Bucci. “When it hits the vehicle, it literally punches a hole inside it, right through the armour and then throws a lot of hot metal around inside the vehicle so it’s designed to kill anybody inside and if possible cause the vehicle to explode.”
He concluded by insisting the US had an obligation to upgrade the MRAPs or send technicians that could assist.
“Sending … vehicles that are not up to par, that are not going to protect them in the way that they are intended is foolishness, and even if it wasn’t the intent, that message that America really doesn’t care that much is what’s going to be read into this.”