BAE Systems Land Systems South Africa has debuted the latest version of its well-used RG-series mine resistant personnel carrier vehicles, the RG31 Mk6E, to a global audience at IDEX in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The vehicle was first publicly displayed at the Africa Aerospace and Defence show in Cape Town in September last year.
“We are confident that this latest development will further confirm our South African business as the world leader in mine protected vehicle technology,” said Land Systems SA (LSSA) MD Johan Steyn.
“The RG-series builds on the three decades of experience gained in SA through vehicles such as the Casspir, Mamba and Mfezi.
“Its success is a result of our ongoing investment into ever improving vehicle protection levels. We achieve this by applying new concepts and designs influenced by customer and operator feedback and simulation,” he adds.
Since receiving a Canadian Forces order for RG31 Mk3 vehicles in 2003, the company`s sales have earned the country more than $430 million in exports “with a steadily increasing number of additional orders for vehicles, spares and support…”
Buoyant sales, boosted by the types` proven ability to survive roadside explosives and suicide bombs have also created over 300 new jobs at LSSA`s Benoni factory as well as many more throughout its supplier network.
The UAE`s Special Operations Command (SOC) operates 76 RG31 Mk5 vehicles, of which 70 are armoured personnel carriers and six are command variants. These have been in service since July 2007.
New features on the RG31 Mk6E include a revised anti-mine seat. These provide enhanced protection to the occupants from lumbar spinal injuries caused by the shock-waves associated with explosive blasts. The seat incorporates proprietary shock attenuation crushable elements. “Tests have shown that these absorb some of the vertical impulse associated with mine blasts, reducing the likelihood of injury during large landmine explosions,” the company says in a statement.
BAE Systems has sold over 2200 RG31 vehicles since 2004, including more than 1300 to the US and Canadian Forces. The US RG31s are manufactured by Land Systems OMC at Benoni and also under licence by General Dynamics Land Systems Canada.
The Spanish Army last September ordered 100 RG31 Mk5E from LSSA via General Dynamics Santa Bárbara Sistemas in a contract worth €64.6 million to prime contractor. The deal called for the delivery of 85 armored personnel carriers, 10 ambulances and five command post variants this year. It also included an option for 80 additional vehicles.
The debut comes as the US military announced on Friday that it had just fielded its 10 000th mine-resistant, ambush-protected (MRAP) vehicle in Iraq, just 22 months after introducing the vehicle type in theatre. The first MRAP was fielded in Iraq in April 2007. Since then, more than 11 700 MRAPs have been fielded across the US Central Command (Centcom) area of operations.
A Centcom statement says in that timeframe the fleet that includes the RG31 has maintained a 95% operational readiness rate.