More on the Road of Death's Bad-Ass Bus

Last week Defense Tech noted the RhinoRunner armored bus, and the post gathered a ton of great comments in the discussion section. Definitely worth a look.rhino.jpgOne question asked was "What makes a RhinoRunner "better" than an APC?", and this email response came in to Defense Tech from sources "in the know":

What makes a RhinoRunner "better" than an APC?The RhinoRunner is not "Better" than an APC...it is a different vehicle used for an entirely different mission. It is comparing apples and oranges from the tactical standpoint.The difference between a "RhinoRunner" and an APC:The armored personnel carrier transports fully loaded combat troops in a hostile "front-lines" environment. The APC in virtually all cases possesses organic armaments / weapons and must be all terrain capable. Normally, the all terrain requirement is satisfied via a tracked vehicle. Ideally, the APC is designed to withstand heavy caliber "direct fire" from a determined enemy. Price ranges for APCs are $500,000 minimum and can easily exceed $2,000,000.The RhinoRunner is designed for "protected transport" of personnel on roadways, both improved and secondary. Never designed to be equipped with organic weaponry, the RhinoRunner does provide personnel being transported the capability to return fire from within the Runner. As opposed to the average commercially available "passenger-bus" or the "unarmored" standard military troop transport, the Level IV (NIJ) protection afforded by the RhinoRunner at the price of the RhinoRunner is quite remarkable. The engineering of the RhinoRunner has proven to be quite capable of withstanding the 360 degree "unconventional" aspects of the current insurgency as opposed to the more traditional one dimensional war where a front line can be identified. Unfortunately, due to the asymmetric characteristics of the current campaign in Iraq ...the RhinoRunner is fulfilling a unique and vital role in safely transporting military and civilian personnel throughout the Iraqi theater.From a purely, and far less important, purely economic standpoint. The RhinoRunner safely transports 23 passengers at a Unit cost of $275,000. And since no RhinoRunner has been knocked out of service, it is proving to be quite resilient. Dissimilarly, it takes at least (6) $80-100,000 lesser armored HMMWVs to accomplish the same transport and 2-3 $100,000 lesser armored military trucks that are better suited for cargo transport missions. Payload constraints restrict most military combat transports from being armored to Level IV(NIJ) standards until such time as new "non-steel" materials become more available.It must be noted that many of the comments indicate a propensity for VIP transport on the RhinoRunner. Statistics indicate that this is the exception rather than the rule in that military personnel and DoD contractors utilize the RhinoRunner at a rate far exceeding any usage by visiting VIPs, observers, etc.
Journalists and critics often make the mistake of confusing the many types of missions and environments that armored vehicles are designed for. M1 tanks have pretty much proven themselves to be the toughest and strongest armored vehicles out there today. But they make lousy busses. Just as you'd never use a tank or a Bradley Fighting Vehicle as a bus, you'd never send a RhinoRunner into a full-scale battle.The RhinoRunner's larger carrying capacity makes it far more efficient when called to transport large numbers of personnel over great distances, and its armor is strong enough to protect its cargo in the environment its expected to operate in. Like all other armored vehicles, the RhinoRunner has a particular role to fill. The current environment in Iraq makes that role one that's required on a daily basis.--posted by Murdoc
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