US orders more SA armoured vehicles

22 July 2008

General Dynamics Land Systems Canada has secured another huge order from the US defence department for 773 RG-31 mine-resistant ambush protected (MRAP) vehicles, developed by South Africa’s BAE Systems Land Systems OMC.

According to a statement by General Dynamics Land Systems Canada, the order from the US Marine Corps Command is potentially worth US$552-million (about R4.2-billion), with deliveries to be completed by April 2009.

In order to meet the urgent production schedule that has been called for, production of the RG-31 Mk5E Category I vehicles will be split between General Dynamics in Alabama, Demmer Corporation in Michigan and BAE Systems Land Systems OMC, based in Benoni on Gauteng’s East Rand.

According to an Engineering News article this week, US website www.defenseindustrydaily.com points out that the driving force behind these orders is the RG31’s operational success in Afghanistan, with some 800 MRAPs of all types already operating in that country.

“Reportedly, US commanders in that theatre particularly want more RG31s because this type is smaller and lighter that other MRAP vehicles, yet is well suited to the poor Afghan roads and difficult terrain,” Engineering News quotes the website as saying.

Testament to effectiveness

This contract is in addition to the 624 RG-31 vehicles already supplied under the MRAP vehicle program.

Separately, an additional 566 RG-31s have been previously ordered by the US Army Tank Command, based on operational need statements by the US Army for route clearance vehicles.

“We are grateful for the opportunity to once again play a role in protecting the lives of US soldiers,” said General Dynamics Land Systems Canada senior vice president Sridhar Sridharan in the company statement.

“A repeat order such as this, in combination with the positive feedback we have received from soldiers in theater, is the best testament to the effectiveness of the RG-31 Mk5 vehicles.”

According to Land Systems OMC, the RG-31 is the mine-protected vehicle of choice for peacekeepers, with an all-steel, welded armour, monocoque hull that ensures its crew of 10 is protected from anti-personnel fire and anti-tank mine detonations.

SAinfo reporter

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