The South African developed military vehicle – the Africa Truck – which the Department of Defence (DoD) has indicated it wants will have the added benefit of CSIR support from cradle to grave.
In its just released annual report for 2016/17 the multi-discipline research and development organisation points out it has been involved in component design and various structural, mobility and protection analyses for the new generation military vehicle and adds “the CSIR will develop a strategy to manage vehicles throughout their life cycle”.
The DoD 2017 Annual Performance Plan indicates development of an initial prototype in the current financial year with “resourced production” starting in the 2018/18 financial year. There is no indication given of quantity or variants apart from stating the new vehicle is part of the renewal of the SA National Defence Force’s (SANDF) landward capability. The renewal programme is said to be a focus area in support of the Defence Ministry’s Capability Sustainment Direction.
While indications are Africa Truck will, at some stage, become part of the military vehicle fleet of particularly the SA Army, vehicles still in use include ageing Samils. These are being maintained by Cuban technicians and mechanics in terms of Project Thusano.
The Africa Truck made its public debut at last year’s Aerospace Africa and Defence (AAD) exhibition at AFB Waterkloof. According to the CSIR annual report the vehicle shown was “a capability demonstrator”.
The intent with Africa Truck is to create a family of vehicles with modular, inter-changeable attributes to offer a range of models of transport, limiting the environmental footprint of a military logistics support capability and “opening opportunities for new enterprises, jobs and skills”.
The truck has a roll-on/roll-off load carriage enabling it to transport personnel, fuel, water, medical supplies or a “full field hospital”. Integrated armament and protection against landmines and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) is standard.
The CSIR notes an important benefit of the partnership of Denel Vehicle Systems (DVS), Armscor, the SANDF and the national research organisation in the Africa Truck is “ready access to operational feedback to ensure the vehicle is optimally suited to its operating environment”.
“Armscor is assisting with requirements analysis and developing overall vehicle specifications, with contributors Ergotech, for ergonomic design and evaluation, and Gerotek, for development and qualification test support. As the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) and primary design authority DVS will manufacture the vehicle at its facility in Benoni and provide after-sales support to clients,” according to the annual report.