DRC police operating Paramount Maatla armoured vehicles

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The Police Nationale Congolaise has been confirmed as the operator of newly acquired Maatla armoured vehicles.

Fifteen of the Paramount-manufactured vehicles were handed over to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) police in Kinshasa, Congolese media reported on 19 October.

Launched at the September 2022 Africa Aerospace and Defence (AAD) exhibition, Paramount’s new Maatla 4×4 light protected vehicle received its first order from the DRC, with deliveries beginning at the end of last year.

Paramount said the Maatla is aimed at the rapidly growing lightweight and more affordable segment of the armoured vehicle market. At the time of its launch, the company said the Maatla (meaning Power in Setswana) had already received orders for 50 vehicles from two customers.

The Maatla has been manufactured on a commercial vehicle chassis for proven reliability and low cost. It features “Smart Floor” technology, enabling the seating to be quickly removed and the vehicle to be configured as either an ambulance, command vehicle or customisable for other mission requirements, such as border patrol, military support, policing, or peacekeeping missions. Day/night vision devices and extra sensors can also be fitted to provide 24/7 operability.

The Maatla provides ballistic and blast protections to STANAG 4569 Level 1, and can protect against handguns and other small calibre ball rounds. It also provides underbelly protection against M26 hand grenades or a blast equivalent.

The Maatla can reach a road speed of up to 100 km/h, with a cruising range of up to 600 km when traveling at 80 km/h, and a fording depth of up to 750 mm without preparation. The vehicle is fitted with a 2-speed transfer case and 3 differential locks for difficult terrain. The vehicle can be operated in environments with temperatures ranging from -10°C to + 55°C.

The DRC military has meanwhile received Mbombe 4 vehicles from Paramount. Apparently 20 of the vehicles were received at the beginning of this year. The Mbombe 4s are fitted with gun turrets on their roofs.

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 110 km/h – the Mbombe 4 has a burst speed of 140 km/h.

Since its launch in 2019, the Mbombe 4 has been ordered by six nations, including the Democratic Republic of Congo, United Arab Emirates, and Togo. Bharat Forge is building the Kalyani M4 for the Indian Army. In August 2022 Paramount revealed that the Mbombe 4 would be built in Thailand as the D-Lion.

The Democratic Republic of Congo is also acquiring aircraft from Paramount, and is receiving six Mwari intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) platforms. Mozambique has also acquired three, with deliveries from late 2022.