Defence attaches get a taste of SVI’s capabilities


SVI Engineering recently hosted a capability demonstration day for members of the military attache and advisory corps (MAAC), who were able to experience the company’s products firsthand and witness its growing production capabilities.

Some 20 attaches descended on SVI’s Bashewa factory complex east of Pretoria on 13 March, where they could see the dozens of technicians busy with the armouring of civilian vehicles, luxury vehicles, security vehicles, and the manufacture of Max-series armoured personnel carriers (APCs), armoured truck cabs, and armoured guard houses, amongst others.

Since establishment in 2004, SVI has manufactured or converted approximately 3 000 vehicles, with customers in Africa, Europe and the Middle East. Although SVI has a list of preferred vehicles it armours for the sake of ease of modification, the company can armour just about any vehicle, from Volvo to Maserati. Its typical private customers fit armour to BMW sedans and SUVs and Toyota Hilux and Land Cruiser/Prado models.

Armoured vehicles to the max

One of the projects currently keeping the company busy is an order for 30 armoured Hilux bakkies, and on the military side, SVI earlier this year delivered six Max 3 4×6 APCs to the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) for use by Joint Operations, and is bidding for an Armscor tender for 6×6 armoured Land Cruisers for the SANDF as well as new APCs for border patrols.

Since being unveiled around seven years ago, SVI’s flagship Max series has continued to evolve, with the latest version being the Max 3 full 6×6, weighing 5.5 tons (the Max 3 evolved from 4×4 to 4×6).

At the attache day, SVI displayed a wide range of armoured vehicles covering differing capabilities and prices, starting from an up-armoured Tactical to the Max 3, and larger Max 9 armoured personnel carrier (development of the latter was completed in 2017). The armoured Tactical shown to the attaches was fitted with a 12.7 mm machinegun turret and the Max 3 with a Thales South Africa Scorpion automated mortar on the back, but various weapon options can be fitted to the Max 3, including mortars and ZSU-23-2 23 mm guns.

SVI works with various original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), such as Ford, Mercedes, Toyota, and BMW. Jaco de Kok, CEO of SVI, said it took five years to get BMW to test and approve its armour package for its X3 SUV, for example, with rigorous and extensive ballistic testing – 421 rounds were fired at the test vehicle, which was also attacked with a pickaxe and bricks to ensure the armour did not fail.

Also on display to the attache community was a new armoured cab fitted to a UD Kuzer RKE 150 truck. SVI recently partnered with UD Trucks to launch a new armoured truck cab with B6 level protection. The cab construction protects engine components and includes a tilting nose plate to facilitate routine maintenance, ensuring serviceability remains as close as possible to that of the standard truck. SVI has also worked with Hino on armoured truck cabs.

From driver training to rentals

Apart from manufacturing, SVI has a dedicated armoured vehicle field support division; an armoured fleet rental division; a test track and driver training academy, and the attaches were shown all these divisions and also given a chance to ride inside SVI vehicles on the test/driver training track – armoured Lexus SUVs, the Max 3 and Max 9 were made available for an up close and personal experience.

SVI explained that one of the things that differentiates it from competitors is that it carries out accredited driver training on B6-rated armoured vehicles. The company’s dedicated driver training academy offers five course modules, which cover everything from the legal aspects of driving an armoured vehicle to armoured vehicle dynamics, tactical deployment, four wheel drive driving, advanced driving skills, route planning etc. SVI’s training academy was accredited in 2021 and since then has done 60 training courses, including for embassies.

The company’s substantial rental fleet with its SVI Secure division, launched in 2019, has more than 30 vehicles (modified commercial vehicles and armoured personnel carriers) available for customers. These are used mainly by security companies doing VIP protection. Other customers include mines and customers doing high value escorts.

The military attache event was also attended by SVI partners, including Hensoldt South Africa, Dynateq International, and Thales South Africa. These have their products fitted to SVI vehicles, either for demonstration purposes or for customers. Hensoldt South Africa had its Bushbaby electro-optical surveillance system fitted to a Max 3 armoured vehicle and its new Bushbaby 200 fitted to a tripod while Thales showcased its Scorpion automated mortar on a Max 3 4×6 armoured personnel carrier. Dynateq International (part of the Reunert Group) manufactures weapons turrets, and these have been fitted to SVI products.

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