Paramount positions Mbombe 8 as Hoefyster alternative

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The Paramount Group achieved major export successes with its Mbombe range of infantry combat vehicles (ICVs) and is now turning toward the domestic [South African] market, offering the 8×8 Mbombe 8 as an immediately available and affordable alternative to the long-delayed Badger vehicle.

Under Project Hoefyster, the SA Army was due to receive 242 Badger vehicles in different variants from Denel Land Systems (DLS) to replace some Ratels in the mechanised infantry. Deliveries were scheduled between 2019 and 2022 but this slipped due to development issues, technical challenges and Denel’s financial difficulties. Armscor was at one point so concerned about Project Hoefyster it recommended cancelling the programme and diverting funds to upgrade Ratels as an interim solution.

The OTT Group developed a Ratel service life extension plan (SLEP) to keep the ageing vehicles in service for longer due to Badger non-delivery. The Ratel SLEP is a privately funded development offered to the SA National Defence Force (SANDF).

Paramount Group believes a better alternative is to supply its Mbombe 8 infantry fighting vehicle (IFV), launched in mid-2016 and now a mature design. It has been further developed by Kazakhstan Paramount Engineering (KPE) as the Barys 8 and last year concluded a four-year series of trials conducted by the Ministry of Defence of Kazakhstan.

Similar specifications

The Mbombe 8 has a gross weight of 28 tonnes, kerb weight of 19 tonnes and nine tonne payload covering weapons system, ammunition, crew and supplies. It is powered by a six cylinder turbocharged diesel engine driving a six speed automatic transmission with a top speed of 110km/h. Range is 800 km. Eight dismounts can be accommodated in addition to three crew. Ballistic protection is to STANAG 4569 Level 3+ and blast protection is to STANAG 4569 Level 4a and 4b.

These specifications, Paramount points out, closely match the Badger, also with a nearly 110 km/h top speed and range of 800 km. Additionally Mbombe has flat-floor mine protection.

A range of turrets and weapon stations can be integrated onto the Mbombe 8, such as a dual feed 30 mm cannon and 7.62 mm machinegun turret. Turrets fitted include those developed by South Africa’s Comenius and a Russian AU-220M remote turret with 57 mm cannon and a 7.62 mm machine gun. Anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) launchers can be fitted.

The Badger was meant to be delivered in five main variants for the South African landward force: Section variant with 30 mm CamGun; Mortar variant with a 60 mm mortar; Fire Support variant with 30 mm CamGun; Anti-tank variant with Ingwe missiles and the Command variant enabling command and control at company level.

The Mbombe 8 payload of 9 tonnes gives room to add missiles, mortars, cannons and other items to match Badger variants. Production of 30 mm CamGuns, 60 mm long range mortars and turrets started, meaning they can be retrofitted to the Mbombe 8.

While Denel Land Systems (DLS) is finalising production baseline of the initial section Badger variant, Paramount can put the Mbombe into production right away and, the company says, at a lower cost – a single Mbombe 8 costs under $2 million.

The Mbombe family (Mbombe 4, Mbombe 6, and Mbombe 8) share an 80% parts commonality, giving cost benefits to armed forces due to greater efficiencies and significant savings in main