GSV develops unique Ghost armoured protected vehicle

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South African armoured vehicle company Global Specialised Vehicles (GSV) is launching a new vehicle that is somewhat unique in the market as it offers high levels of protection similar to a military-grade armoured personnel carrier (APC) yet can legally be driven on the road, allowing it to be used by commercial security companies for asset protection, security, cash in transit work and more.

The Ghost came about as a result of multiple queries from the public sector, which needed better vehicles that could be acquired and used by civilians. GSV believes the Ghost is the only vehicle in South Africa that offers high levels of protection but is fully road legal and can be driven by anyone with a Code 10 vehicle license. The roadworthy process means the vehicle has to conform to specific size and weight requirements. Its size and weight mean it is capable of being transported in a standard 6 metre ISO shipping container for ease of deployment.

The Ghost is aimed at business and infrastructure protection, but it will be available in seven different variants to meet customer needs, such as armoured personnel carrier, CIT, law enforcement, ambulance etc. The configuration can be easily changed as the vehicle is almost modular. This also means that damaged panels can be changed with little effort.

Development has been funded in-house, but such is demand that GSV already has multiple orders, with clients ranging from mines to companies requiring facility protection. Interest has even been expressed by universities and municipalities, in addition to the private security sector. The police and military are also potential markets. GSV sees future exports outside South Africa, particularly on the African continent. Facilitating this process is the fact that the vehicle can be easily configured in either left or right hand drive layout.

Production is starting immediately, and planned at five to ten vehicles a month, at GSV’s facilities in Germiston. The vehicle’s materials (armoured steel and glass) are supplied by accredited and certified suppliers. GSV does not need large orders for the vehicle to be viable, and says it can build even one profitably.

The first vehicle has nearly been completed, and this is in APC configuration, fitted with four side doors, and one rear door. In addition to driver and co-driver, ten people can be seated in the rear. It also has gun ports, roof hatches, and a surveillance mast that can be extended to see over walls and other obstacles, or stowed flat. The optional mast is fitted with a low light level TV (LLTV) camera with 35 x magnification, and a thermal imaging camera, allowing for day and night use. A second vehicle, also in APC configuration, will be completed around May/June.

The baseline Ghost comes with B6 level protection but additional armour can be fitted depending on customer requirements. The CIT version will have specialised protection designed to mitigate the explosives used to blast open lightly armoured CIT vehicles. GSV said there is no specification for CIT blasts, but the company will ensure adequate testing for this. The CIT variant will be developed and tested in the next five to six months.

Keeping costs down is a critical requirement for the vehicle, as it is aimed not at the military market with higher budgets but the very cost-conscious private security industry. One key way GSV is keeping costs down is by using an Isuzu drivetrain. This also means that maintenance can be done almost anywhere, and spares are widely available. GSV evaluated a number of original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) before settling on Isuzu, as Isuzu is 100% on board with GSV.

A variety of diesel engines are available for 4×2, 4×4, manual and automatic configurations, and give the 6 ton vehicle a top speed of 120 km/h, and a range of 500 km, but range can be doubled with an extra fuel tank.

The Ghost is designed to have high levels of comfort and useability, and features air conditioning, electronic mirrors with cameras, two 17 inch cabin screens, and a tablet docking station, amongst others. Strobe lights are fitted standard along with a 6 ton winch, but optional extras include runflat tyres and a pepper spray deployment system.

GSV was established in 2015 as a specialist fitting armour to luxury vehicles, providing discreet protection from B4 (hand guns) to B6 (assault rifle) levels and higher. The company envisions a 50:50 production split between the Ghost and armouring luxury and other vehicles.