New agreement brings Mbombe 4 production in Saudi Arabia a step closer

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A memorandum of understanding (MoU) between Saudi companies Scopa and the National Company for Mechanical Systems (NCMS) has been signed for the production of Paramount’s Mbombe 4 armoured vehicle in Saudi Arabia.

The agreement was announced by Scopa in September. Mohammed bin Abdulaziz Al Ajlan, Chairman of the Board of Scopa, said “this alliance, the first of its kind, aims to provide the gear, technologies, and equipment required by the Saudi armed forces, to serve the Ministry of Defence and all the Saudi military and security agencies,” in line with Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 strategic plan which aims to see the localisation of over 50 percent of military spending.

“Together we celebrate taking a great step in the field of partnerships with major international companies, led by Paramount company, which possesses high defence and security technologies, to support our armed forces and the Saudi military and security services,” he said.

The aim of the MoU is to ultimately manufacture Paramount’s Mbombe 4 in Saudi Arabia, although at present no firm contract has yet been signed. Scopa said its agreement with Paramount covers the supply and localisation of mine-resistant, ambush-protected (MRAP) 4×4 vehicles equipped with defensive systems, and which meet international military standards.

Scopa is a new company, having been founded by the Ajilan Group at the beginning of this year. Scopa CEO Nasr Alghrairi has said that within five years, Scopa wants to be amongst the biggest platform manufacturers in the region, and hopefully in the top five. The company is forging partnerships with numerous international entities, including UK-based UAS Tactical Systems. In this case, a recent agreement covers the localisation and co-production of the Watchkeeper UAV, which will be known as the WK-X in Saudi Arabia.

Scopa’s areas of expertise are planned to cover air, land, air defence, sea, information technology, C5ISR, small arms and munitions, CBRN defence, and logistics. Numerous senior retired US military officers have been brought on board to help Scopa achieve its objectives and cement partnerships.

The National Company for Mechanical Systems was registered in 2006, and specialises in mechanical and optical parts manufacturing services and environmental and engineering testing.

Paramount displayed its Mbombe 4 and N-Raven unmanned aerial vehicle at the Scopa stand at the World Defence Show in Riyadh in March this year. The company has already entered into several agreements with foreign countries on Mbombe 4 production, the most recent being with Thailand. Paramount partnered with the Defence Technology Institute (DTI), Thailand’s defence research and development (R&D) agency, and local defence and security company Jatunapas for the local production of the vehicle, which is known as the D-Lion. The first locally assembled D-Lion was handed over to General Chalermphon Srisawasdi, Chief of Defence Forces, Royal Thai Armed Forces, at Defence and Security 2022 in August.

Since its launch in 2019, the Mbombe 4 has been ordered by five nations, including the United Arab Emirates and Togo. Over 150 vehicles have either been manufactured or are on order around the world.

Key features of Mbombe 4 include flat-floor mine protection technology. The vehicle has a burst speed of 140 km/h and a range of 800 km. The platform offers crew compartment NATO STANAG 4569 Level 3 ballistic protection and blast protection to STANAG 4569 Level 4A and 4B and protection against a 50kg TNT side blast or IED/roadside bomb. The 16 tonne Mbombe 4 provides a payload of nearly three tonnes, and has been designed to accommodate a wide range of payloads and turrets, including a 30 mm cannon.

Paramount recently revealed the Mbombe 4 S desert variant, which was developed in response to customer feedback and trials in India, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

The Mbombe 4 draws on the heritage of the eight-wheeled Mbombe 8, launched in 2016, and the six-wheeled Mbombe 6, which is in service. Commonality of components (roughly 70%) across the entire Mbombe family of armoured vehicles lessens the costs associated with support, repairs and training, Paramount maintains.