Acmat strengthening African presence


French tactical military vehicle manufacturer Acmat Defence has been operating in Africa for more than 60 years and continues to consolidate its presence on the continent, moving into English-speaking countries and pursuing deals in conjunction with its partner Renault Trucks.

Guillaume Wies, Business Manager Africa for Acmat Defence, told defenceWeb that Acmat had been mainly dealing mainly with French-speaking countries in Africa, but is planning to be more and more active in the region and move into English speaking regions.

Acmat specialises in light and logistic trucks while its parent Renault Trucks Defence specialises in heavy trucks. In July Renault announced it was buying French armoured vehicle manufacturer Panhard. The sale is in progress and should be completed by the end of the year. The unity of these three companies should give them a wide range of products to offer to the African market.

Wies said Acmat’s vehicles were adapted to the African market as they were robust, and simple to operate, with few complicated electronics. Another feature that has made them popular with African and Asian countries who cannot afford more expensive vehicles is their parts commonality – well over half of each vehicle’s components are compatible with others in the Acmat range.

Acmat’s main vehicle range comprises the VLRA tactical and multirole vehicle, ALTV light 4×4 and Bastion armoured vehicle. More than 12 000 have been sold around the world.

In Africa, customers include Angola, Botswana, Zambia, Mozambique and Kenya. “We are very much present here and 80% of our sales are in Africa,” Wies said, noting that the other 20% of the company’s sales come from Europe, Asia and the Middle East. “We could break through in Africa because of the French Army and their presence in West Africa.” Indeed, the French armed forces are big users of Acmat products –the French Army has over 1 200 VLRAs in service.
“What is important to us is we strengthen our presence, especially in Ivory Coast,” Wies said. Acmat recently sold more than 550 trucks there. Nearly 200 ALTV vehicles are in service with Benin, Niger, Mauritania, Congo, Mali, Burkina Faso, Togo and Chad and Equatorial Guinea recently ordered more ALTVs.

Acmat and Renault Trucks are also taking aim at South Africa’s long-delayed Project Vistula, which seeks to acquire new supply and support vehicles. Vistula could involve at least 1 000 vehicles but could see as many as 5 or 6 000 vehicles in total, including 8×8, 6×6 and 4×4 units.
“South Africa is a specific market,” Wies told defenceWeb. He said the Renault Trucks Kerax series is being offered for the Project Vistula competition and the company just waiting for a response from the government. Renault has been working on the project for two years and the Kerax has undergone testing. “Now it’s a matter of waiting. We are in the starting blocks,” Wies said.

During the recent Africa Aerospace and Defence exhibition held last month, Acmat displayed a variety of its products, including the new generation VLRA liaison, reconnaissance and support vehicle, which has been used by the French army and 50 other armed forces. It was modernised in 2009 with a new engine, steering system and other components. It is available in 4 and 6 wheel drive versions and comes in different configurations depending on the mission: personnel transport, cargo, shelter, tanker, ambulance, fire support, firefighting etc.

The VLRA features a 1 400 km range, 180 litre drinking water capacity and 180 or 320 hp diesel engine. It can operate in –32 to 55 degrees Centigrade environments, is air transportable in C-130, C-160 and C-47 aircraft and can carry between 2.5 and 5.5 tons of payload or 12 to 30 people. Ballistic protection is between Level 1 and Leverl 2 STANAG 4569.

The Bastion range of tactical armoured vehicles features STANAG 4569 protection and can carry ten to 12 people. The Bastion APC is configured for troop transport while the Bastion Patsas is a semi-open-top design developed with French Special Forces for reconnaissance and assault.

The ALTV (Acmat Light Tactical Vehicle) is a light 4×4 that comes in several variants, including station wagon, single cab, double cab and torpedo. Payload is 1.4 tons or two to ten people. Cruising range is approximately 1 600 km.