SA armoured vehicles a hit abroad

23 November 2005

South African armoured vehicle manufacturer Land Systems OMC has won a US$120-million order to supply the Canadian Army with 50 mine-protected troop carriers, along with an $11-million order from the United Arab Emirates armed forces – the fifth major export deal secured by the firm in 2005.

In May, Land Systems announced a $10-million order for 30 of its RG-12 public-order vehicles from the Italian Carabinieri and a $28-million order for 100 of its RG-32M light armoured vehicles for the Swedish Defence Force.

In February the US Army placed an order with the company for 148 RG-31 vehicles worth around $78-million.

The RG-31 and its sister vehicle, the RG-12, are world-renowned mine-protected armoured personnel carriers in service globally with various peace-keeping organisations and armies.

Thanks, praise from survivors
The order from the US Army came after an incident in 2004 in which a RG-31 in Afghanistan was destroyed by a mine. Five US soldiers were able to exit the vehicle with only light injuries. The soldiers wrote a letter of thanks to Land Systems OMC, saying the vehicle had saved their lives.

“If it was not for its superior design and manufacturing we would not be able to write this letter today,” the soldiers wrote.

“This is a magnificent endorsement of South African capability in design, engineering and technology,” Land Systems MD Johan Steyn said when announcing the Italian contract, adding that the orders would create additional jobs at the firm’s Johannesburg manufacturing plant.

Land Systems OMC is a division of BAE Systems Land Systems South Africa, which is a business unit of BAE Systems Land Systems of the United Kingdom.

World’s most heavily mined region
News of the Canadian order came from The Canadian Press, which reported that the Canadian army is expecting delivery of its 50 South African-made armoured vehicles early in 2006 for use by its soldiers in southern Afghanistan.

The Canadian army is reportedly purchasing the RG-12s “off the shelf,” without any special requirements. According to The Canadian Press, the vehicles are considered essential to Canada’s mission in the desert and mountains near Kandahar, one of the most heavily mined regions of the most heavily mined country in the world.

The RG-12 is a multi-purpose 4×4 armoured vehicle with an all-steel, welded armour, monocoque hull capable of protecting the crew against small arms fire, firebombs and hand grenades.

Initially designed as an anti-riot vehicle, the RG-12 is readily adaptable to a variety of roles. In public order policing configuration, 12 fully equipped police officers can operate in the fully air-conditioned vehicle for extended periods.

Combat-proven technology
For the United Arab Emirates armed forces, the smaller, mine-protected RG-31 4×4 armoured vehicle is being customised with Stanag (standard Nato agreement) level 2 protection against armour-piercing ammunition, a more powerful engine, upgraded air-conditioning and additional side doors.

According to the SA Press Association (Sapa), UAE armed forces officers who visited Land Systems’ production facilities in Benoni, near Johannesburg, were impressed with the agility and response of the company’s combat-proven mine-protection technology.

The UAE delivery is scheduled for the first and second quarters of 2006.

The RG-31 is used by other peacekeeping operations in the Middle East, while the RG-12 is successfully deployed in the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

Sapa reports that in 2002, prior to the company’s 2004 purchase by BAE Systems, Land Systems OMC (then Alvis OMC) sold a number of RG-12 armoured personnel carriers to the Dubai Police Force.

SouthAfrica.info reporter