DRC operating Calidus MCAV-20, Paramount Mbombe armoured vehicles

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The Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC’s) military is operating two new armoured vehicle types, acquired from the United Arab Emirates and South Africa.

On 22 July, a number of MCAV-20 vehicles were seen on the streets of the DRC’s capital Kinshasa as authorities stepped up security ahead of the International Francophone Games starting that week. Around 4 500 additional police backed by state security agents were deployed ahead of the event.

The license plates of the Republican Guard’s MCAV-20s seen in the capital ran from 001.11.23 to 030.01.23, suggesting 30 were delivered earlier in 2023, Janes reported. It added that a memorandum of understanding was announced in October 2021, under which the UAE pledged to provide the DRC with 30 tactical armoured vehicles.

The MCAV-20 is one of several vehicles manufactured by Calidus, along with the LRV-20 lightweight 4×4 and Al Wahash 8×8. The latter was designed by South Africa’s ADG Mobility.

Few details are available on the MCAV-20 but based on information from the Calidus website, it may be powered by a 330 hp engine and protected against ballistic and landmine threats. A ‘smart hull design’ allows for the integration of turrets and weapon stations – the DRC’s vehicles have open turrets fitted with sniper/assault rifles. The vehicle weighs around 7-9 tons and has a top speed of about 110 km/h.

The MCAV-20, launched in February 2021, has also been acquired by Sudan, where it was seen earlier this year. Vehicles in service with the Sudanese Armed Forces were observed with twin anti-aircraft guns mounted in open turrets on the rear load bed. The UAE has supplied other armoured vehicles to the Sudanese Armed Forces and Rapid Support Forces, including Pathera T6, NIMR Ajban and Typhoon vehicles.

The DRC is believed to have taken delivery of 20 Mbombe 4 vehicles at the beginning of this year, following the delivery of an unknown number of new Maatla lightweight 4×4 armoured vehicles from Paramount in late 2022 (at the time of its launch, Paramount said the Maatla had orders for 50 vehicles from two customers). The Mbombe 4s are fitted with gun turrets on their roofs.

A Mbombe 4 in the DRC.

The Mbombe family (4×4 Mbombe 4, 6×6 Mbombe 6, and 8×8 Mbombe 8) features a flat mine-protected floor, giving a lower and better stability than V-shaped armoured hulls, which were pioneered by South Africa. All three models share 80% common components to reduce through life costs and make training and logistics easier. A six-cylinder diesel gives a top speed of more than 110km/h – the Mbombe 4 has a top speed of some 150km/h, making it one of the fastest armoured vehicles in the world.

Since its launch in 2019, the Mbombe 4 has been ordered by six nations, including the Democratic Republic of Congo, United Arab Emirates, Togo, and India – it is being built in large numbers for the Indian Army by Bharat Forge as the Kalyani M4. In August 2022 Paramount revealed that the Mbombe 4 would be built in Thailand as the D-Lion. The company also hopes to produce the Mbombe 4 in Saudi Arabia.

The Democratic Republic of Congo is also acquiring aircraft from Paramount, and is receiving six Mwari intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft. During the Africa Aerospace and Defence exhibition in September last year, Paramount said it had orders for nine from two air forces – Mozambique has acquired the other three.