The South African Army’s search for new armoured personnel carriers (APCs) to replace its current border patrol vehicles is seeing seven South African defence companies this month submit their vehicles for testing and evaluation along the borderline.
Director Defence Corporate Communication Brigadier General Andries Mokoena Mahapa told defenceWeb that over a dozen local companies were invited by Armscor to submit APCs for testing and functional evaluation along the borderline in October, and thereafter be invited to Exercise Vuk’uhlome at the South African Army Combat Training Centre at Lohatlha in November for display and exhibition.
In January this year Armscor released a request for information (RFI) calling for a 2+8 seat APC for counter-insurgency operations with variable ballistic and mine protection, including the ability to defeat an 8 kg mine. Eight companies responded positively, while eight companies declined (Rheinmetall Denel Munition, Global Command and Control Technologies [GC2T], Hensoldt, AS Holding, Sandock Austral, Thales, Armiger, and Reutech). None of the companies that declined the RFI manufacture armoured vehicles. Twiga was contemplating submitting its Nyati APC, but decided not to as the Nyati is more than the specifications require for border patrol, and better suited to motorised infantry operations.
Of those that will be taking part in the evaluation, DCD Protected Mobility will have its Springbuck SD, Springbuck HD with Command & Control system (together with GC2T), Springbuck Multi Platform, and if permitted, the Husky to showcase a complete solution.
Denel told defenceWeb the company identified three vehicles for the evaluation and Vuk’uhlome demonstration, and these are the RG21 and RG31 armoured personnel carriers, and RG32M patrol vehicle/troop carrier fitted with an SD-ROW (Self Defence Remotely Operated Weapon) turret.
OTT Solutions is submitting its Puma M36 Mk 6 4×4 and Milkor its 4×4 APC. Automotive Investment Holdings (AIH) has partnered with Integrated Convoy Protection (ICP) to contribute the Reva V armoured personnel carrier. SVI will also be taking part with its Max 3 lightweight, low cost armoured vehicle.
Paramount is contributing its new Maatla lightweight 4×4 APC, which is already in service with two African nations, including the Democratic Republic of Congo. The company’s Mbombe 4 and Marauder will participate in the live training component of Exercise Vuk’uhlome, while a Mbombe 6 will be on static display, joining the Maatla at Lohatla.
The South African Army is seeking to replace the current fleet of troop packs (as the border patrol Land Cruisers were named) with “improved vehicles” to enhance border security and safeguarding operations.
“The acquisition of new personnel carriers will reduce the potential risk to national security by creating deterrence and stopping cross-border movement in order to have non-porous borders,” SA Army Director Force Structure Development Plan, Brigadier General Bruce Motlhoki, said at a stakeholder meeting in mid-July.
Functional evaluation of the armoured vehicles starts on 20 October and ends on 14 November. “Different centres of excellence” will focus on command and control, firepower, mobility, “superior protection”, intelligence and sustainability with driver training concentrating on operator obstructions, tactics and off-road critical mobility.
National Treasury has allocated nearly R1 billion to improve SANDF border security capabilities over the next three years. In the medium term, troop pack vehicles (over 400 were originally acquired) will be replaced with off-the-shelf vehicles and R500 million will be spent in 2024/25 for this.
Armscor hopes to by the end of the year decide which vehicle is best and how many the SANDF can afford. A request for proposals will then be issued.
In addition to new vehicles, R200 million worth of sensor technology will be acquired for Operation Corona in 2025/6 including a geographic information system (GIS) capability (R22.5 million); intelligence collection and processing capabilities (R47 million under Project Baobab); upgraded Chaka command and control system (R7.2 million); Reutech RSR 903 radars (R57 million); 60 observation posts (R16 million under Project Dominate); 16 quadcopter unmanned aerial vehicles (R16 million) and two long range UAVs (R24 million).