Technical Solutions Group was a defense company in the US which was involved in a range of products, including mine-resistant vehicles based on South African designs. A few vehicles were sold to the US Army for evaluation, and a small fleet of heavily protected vehicles were sold to the British Army in 2001. Technical Solutions was purchased in 2002 by Sonic Jet and the combined company renamed itself Force Protection Inc in 2004.
In 2004, the new Cougar was designed by a small British-led team in the US at Force Protection, Inc., in response to an urgent requirement by the US Marine Corps. This was a new design, developed in the US, based on an evolution of vehicle mine-protection technology used by the South African Army and Rhodesian Security Forces since the 1970s. The very first sketches of the new vehicle were made in late March 2004 in response to those initial USMC inquiries. The rapid development and production that followed was based upon the USMC request that the first vehicle be delivered within 6 months of an order - which was subsequently placed in mid-April 2004 for 27 units.
The new design was called Cougar to provide a degree of continuity with the older designs, but had little in common with them. The former vehicles were almost entirely non-compliant with NATO standards for protection, human factors and safety, which made those designs obsolete. The Cougar was effectively a totally new vehicle which incorporated the latest US-made enhancements, a new hull design and structure, as well as built-in growth potential, including dimensions that allowed for the addition of the latest armor and protection systems.
After leaving the factory the first vehicle was only trialed by doing some circuits of the company campus and trundling over a few rocks. Urgent operational requirements dictated that the first unit be shipped to theater as fast as possible and those involved in the project decided that the risk of doing so was outweighed by the advantages of having the vehicle available. The Cougar was fully trialed when it became part of the MRAP program.
The first Cougars were called HEV (hardened engineer vehicle), which became JERRV when the Army joined the program, and then MRAP for political reasons when the requirement for many thousands of units was issued.
Some 4,000 of these vehicles were fielded under the US military's MRAP (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected) and other vehicle programs. US Defense secretary Robert Gates demanded that the vehicles be ordered in larger numbers after the Marines reported in 2004 that no troops had died in more than 300 IED attacks on Cougars. Since then, Cougar vehicles have been hit by improvised explosive devices (IEDs) many times in Iraq with few fatalities. Britain chose the Cougar over the RG-31 Nyala for their "Mastiff" APV.
As of December 2011, the Pentagon plans to add the Crows II remote weapon station and the Frag Kit 6 anti-EFP armor.