DCD Protected Mobility has acquired the Springbuck armoured personnel carrier (APC) range from Drakensberg Truck Manufacturers and has begun marketing the series of vehicles.
“We’re very excited to have expanded our existing product range to include a vehicle that has such potential on the African continent, particularly in terms of emerging markets,” said DCD Protected Mobility general manager, Andrew Mears. “The Springbuck APC has been designed for ease of operation, maintenance and repair, harnessing internationally available drive-line components for assured performance and availability of parts.
“The acquisition of this range is part of a corporate strategy to expand our product and customer base by establishing a footprint in Africa and emerging markets,” Mears said. “The Springbuck APCs are lighter than our existing Mountain Lion range and we are confident that DCD Protected Mobility’s international standing and backing will allow its true potential to be realised. Right now we are looking at taking the Springbuck Mk VI APC back to the drawing board and fully industrialising it, to affect even greater savings for our customers and further improve its capabilities.”
The Springbuck vehicles is roughly based on the dimensions of the original South African Mamba vehicle. It is 5.8 metres long and 2.3 metres wide. Carrying capacity is ten troops, plus a driver. Ballistic protection is able to stop bullets up to 7.62 mm calibre while a V-shaped hull provides protection against a single TM57 mine under the vehicle while the Springbuck has sufficient armour to defeat a double TM57 mine under any wheel. The vehicle has a top speed of 115 km/h and is powered by a MWM 6 litre engine. Range is approximately 600 km.
Weighing in at 6 800 kg with a ground clearance of 357 mm (under axle), the six-cylinder three-door Springbuck Mk VI has a top speed of 115 km/hour and a turning circle of 14.7 metres. With the same dimensions and turning circle as the Mk VI, but weighing 7 400 kg, the Springbuck Mk IV is a one-door four-cylinder APC with a ground clearance of 343 mm and top speed of 110 km/hour.
DCD said the vehicle had been designed around the ergonomics of the driver and crew, specifically for the African market. Mears described it as “affordable, but not inferior”, making it ideal for a broad spectrum of security applications.
Nigerian defence and security firm Mekahog is in the process of setting up a factory to manufacture Springbuck and other armoured vehicles in Nigeria. In June Franklyn Ohakim, Group Executive Director of Mekahog, told defenceWeb that his company would be the first in West Africa to have the ability to fabricate and maintain armoured vehicles.
DCD Protected Mobility, a division of the DCD industrial group, will showcase the new acquisition alongside its other products at Africa Aerospace and Defence 2012 from September 19 to 21.
One of its exhibits is expected to be the Mountain Lion armoured utility vehicle. This 12 800 kg vehicle features a four-wheel steering system, giving a 12 metre turning circle (versus 14.7 metres for the Springbuck, for example). Payload is just over two tons, or eight troops; maximum speed is 105 km/h and range is 800 km. The 6.15 metre long vehicle can be fitted with gun turrets weighing up to 700 kg.
DCD is optimistic about the prospects of the Mountain Lion, with opportunities in South Africa (Project Sapula, to replace Mamba and Casspir vehicles), Canada and emerging markets in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe and Latin America. However, Mears noted that the vehicle would be competing in a very tough and competitive market. An increasing number of mine-resistance ambush protected (MRAP) vehicles are entering the market while the United States sells surplus vehicles as it winds down the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
DCD said it is exploring the possibility of producing a new-generation MRAP vehicle and will take a decision on whether or not to proceed early in 2013. Mears told Engineering News that it would probably take six years to reach the prototype stage. The vehicle would come in 4×4 and possibly 6×6 format.
Other vehicles developed by DCD include the Husky and Meerkat. The Husky VMMD (Vehicle Mounted Mine Detector), previously known as the Chubby system, was developed in the 1970s for the South African Defence Force to clear roads of mines in Namibia and Angola. The system comprises of two Husky vehicles: the first acts as a Mine Detection Vehicle (MDV) (previously a Meerkat). The second vehicle (a Husky) tows a mine-detonating trailer.
The South African Army uses the Meerkat. However, some have been sold to France, Australia and the United States. More than 400 Huskies have been sold and as of January this year, the Husky system had taken 7 000 hits in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, with no mine or improvised explosive device fatalities.