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New Marine Armor Kit to Upgrade 'Hummers'
By U.S. Marine Corps Maj. R. Crum / Marine Corps Systems Command

MARINE CORPS SYSTEMS COMMAND, Quantico, Va., Dec. 2, 2004 – With the fielding of the Marine armor kit beginning as early as next month, Marines will soon have a universally applicable Humvee armor solution to help shield them from the effects of improvised explosive devices and other ballistic battlefield dangers.

"Our main objective is to make sure that Marines get the best protection possible in the time frame that they need it."
Marine Corps Maj. James Washburn

The Marine armor kit, also known as "MAK", can be installed by operators or by contractors, and is adaptable to both the two-door and four-door Humvee variants.

According to Capt. Andrew Rodgers, Marine Corps Systems Command project officer, the MAK’s versatility is a distinct advantage over factory “up-armor” alternatives because it offers a high-level of universal protection to the existing Humvee fleet.

“The kits are made of a combination of rolled homogenous armor, high hard steel, mild steel and ballistic glass,” said Rodgers. Components include reinforced doors with ballistic glass, flank protection kits, gunner shield kits and an air-conditioning system.

Until now, Marines have 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 Humvee protection.

An evolutionary process, MAK development started as a collaborative effort with the U. S. 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 U. S. Army's Aberdeen Test Center in Maryland.

Though the development stage proved to be challenging and demanding, the real daunting task will be the installation and fielding of the MAK to support Marine forces in a deployed combat environment.

Project officers, design engineers, and logisticians have to wrestle with numerous variables to develop reasonable solutions to fulfill specific requirements.

According to Maj. James Washburn, a Marine Corps Systems Command project officer who has also worked on the program, “It’s a huge task to match armor protection against the evolving threats while staying within the carrying capacity of the wheeled vehicle fleet. You simply can’t retrofit a Humvee to match the armor protection of a main battle tank.”

“Our main objective is to make sure that Marines get the best protection possible in the time frame that they need it,” Washburn noted.

“Obviously the specifics are classified, but the MAK is designed to protect Marines from the prevalent threat of (improvised explosive device) attacks and other ballistic dangers,” said Rodgers.

See Caption.
This four-door M1123 Troop/Cargo Carrier is equipped with the Marine Armor Kit. The MAK is also compatible with the two-door M1123 and the M1097A2 Shelter Carrier. Courtesy U.S. Marine Corps photo
See Caption.
A Marine Armor Kit is installed on this two-door M1123 Troop/Cargo Carrier. Courtesy U.S. Marine Corps photo
See Caption.
This four-door M1043A2 Armament Carrier with a ring mount is outfited with the Marine Armor Kit. Courtesy U.S. Marine Corps photo

Marine Corps Logistics Command has the production capacity and capability to manufacture the MAK – meaning that Marines will be receiving this product from an in-house provider.

Coming in at approximately $34,000, fully installed, the MAK is as cost-effective as it is capable.

With an initial order of several thousand kits, eventually every Humvee in a combat environment will be equipped with the MAK. Production will continue through the spring of 2005 and additional kits can be produced as needed.

The kit is modular, and can provide a minimum level of protection at 1,800 additional pounds, or full protection at around 3,400 pounds.

It is estimated that installation and fielding to the deployed operational forces will take about 12 to 18 months.

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