The South African Military Health Service (SAMHS) is looking at using the Mamba armoured personnel carrier (APC) as a combat ambulance, with a prototype being converted for the role.
The SAMHS is currently working on a prototype to convert the Mamba Mk 2 into a combat ambulance to be able to render medical support, reports the latest edition of SA Soldier magazine. This project is expected to come to fruition before the end of 2019.
“The decision to adopt the Mamba has been a discussion point for a long time. The project started with extensive research that explored possible options, including the latest technology and comparison with other military vehicles on the African terrain,” SA Soldier said.
“The research included expert advice from Armscor and Denel with the United Nations’ requirements in mind. The Integrated Project Team (IPT) behind this project is a multidisciplinary team of clinical personnel, including doctors, trauma and emergency nurses, military paramedics, operational emergency care practitioners and technical personnel.”
The SAMHS cautioned that using a private company to develop a combat ambulance would have cost it millions of Rands so the technical team, led by Major General Lesley Ford, the Chief Director Military Health Force Support, decided to use SAMHS members to design the prototype ambulance.
The Integrated Project Team was assisted by Technical Service Unit (TSU) members, who are welders, painters and carpenters, to build the prototype.
The Mamba is a relatively lightweight (6 ton), agile armoured personnel carrier, which was developed in the 1980s to replace the earlier Buffel. It can be transported inside a C-130 aircraft. The Mamba’s hull and windows protects against small arms fire up to 7.62x51mm NATO ball rounds and shell splinters while its V-shaped hull provides a high level of protection against anti-tank mines, including one TM57/7kg TNT mine under the hull or two TM57 (14kg TNT) mines under any wheel.
Hundreds of Mambas are in service with the SANDF, but the vehicle has also been exported and built by other companies (as the RG31 by the form BAE Systems Land Systems South Africa, and developed into the Reva by ICP).
The new Mamba combat ambulance will not replace the Mfezi mine-protected ambulance and other vehicles in service with the SAMHS. The Mfezi, along with the Casspir, is the main armoured ambulance in service with the South African National Defence Force (SANDF).
The Mfezi was developed by Pretoria-based Truck-Makers using mechanical components of the Samil-50 truck, entering service in 1990. The 12.4 tonne vehicle can accommodate four stretcher patients and four more lightly wounded patients who can sit upright, and provides protection against small-arms fire and against two anti-tank mines under any wheel or three under the hull. It can be modified for other roles, including medical command post.
The SAMHS Casspir and Mfezi armoured ambulances operate alongside mobile resuscitation posts built onto Samil-100 mine-protected 10-ton trucks. In safe areas, the SAMHS uses several ambulances to collect wounded, injured or ill personnel, including some civilian types.
The Military Health Service is responsible for everything from routine healthcare of soldiers and their families to saving the lives of wounded soldiers on the battlefield.