Fact file: Mamba MRAPPC


Armoured personnel carrier (APC)/mine resistant, armour protected personnel carrier (MRAPPC)
Associated project names: 
About 220[1] in service.
BAE Systems Land Systems OMC.
·         Length:                         
·         Width:                           
·         Height:                          
·         Wheel base:                 
·         Ground clearance:      
·         Track
·         5.46m.
·         2.205m.
·         2.495m.
·         2.9m
·         0.390m.
·         1.79m
·         Tare:
·         Payload:       
·         GVM:
·         5.71mt.
·         1.1mt.
·         6.8mt.
Driver, co-driver, 9 passengers.
200 litres.
Water for crew:                               
100 litres.
Protection levels
·         Ballistic:       
·         Mine:              
·         The Mamba`s hull and windows protects against small arms fire up to 7.62x51mm NATO ball and shell splinters.
·         The vehicle`s V-shaped all-steel welded hull to provide a high level of protection against anti-tank mines, to include 1 x TM57/7kg TNT under the hull or 2 x TM57 (14kg TNT) under any wheel.
·         Top speed:                   
·         Range on single refuelling:     
·         Acceleration:
·         Turning circle:             
·         Ground pressure:
·         Power/mass ratio:
·         Capabilities:
·         110km/h.
·         900km.
·         Not known.
·         12.5m.
·         Not known.
·         13.5kW/t.
·         Can climb a 0.4m vertical step.    
·         Can cross a 0.9m wide trench.
·         Can ford water 1m deep.
·         Can climb a gradient of __ deg.
·         Can traverse a gradient of __ deg.
Drive train                                                            
·         Engine:         
·         Transmission:              
Derived from Unimog 416.
·         Mercedes-Benz OM352 six-cylinder water- cooled diesel engine, delivering 92kW at 2800rpm.
·         Mercedes Benz UG2/30 717.801 4-speed synchromesh.
None fitted as standard. Can be fitted with barbette or pintle-mounted light weapons in front of commander`s hatch. The windows are fitted with firing posts for self-defence using personal weapons.
Early 4×2 versions lived up to the name due to an evil suspension system and underpowered engine. Upgrades have since corrected these deficiencies.. User evaluation took place in July 1993. In 2006 about 220 vehicles were remanufactured under Project Jury. All vehicles are now 4×4.       
Although superficially similar, the Mamba and RG31 are not related.
The Mamba is based on the Unimog 416 chassis that was also the basis of the Buffel and the Bosvark, the latter the standard truck fitted with a v-shaped rear-body to provide troops carried there a modicum of protection from mines. It offered no sanctuary from small-arms fire and no protection whatsoever to the driver.      
The Buffel improved on the Bosvark by providing the driver a cramped but protected module and the passengers an armoured but open-topped bucket. Designed by the Defence Research Unit (DRU) of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), the Buffel was manufactured by several companies, with mass production starting in 1978. Some 1400 were built, many remanufactured from Bosvark and Army Unimog utility transports.
Writing in the Engineering News, Keith Campbell noted that the Buffel “was effective, but it was subject to excessive roll when moving across rough terrain”, an aspect to which the author, a former motorised infantryman, can heartily attest. The open top also left the troops vulnerable to shrapnel. Campbell adds that the Buffel also proved unsuitable for urban operations.
“So, at the end of the 1980s, it was succeeded by the Mamba, designed for internal security tasks – lower than a Buffel, more stable, less military in appearance, and enclosed.”
Campbell notes that the Mamba was first built (or remanufactured from surplus Buffel vehicles) in 4×2 format at TFM and later at OMC. 4×4 soon became standard. More than 500 were eventually produced.
Engineering News describes the RG31 as an export venture: “With [OMC] manufacturing the Mamba 4×4, TFM sought to develop a new mine- protected, lightly armoured vehicle, specifically for export markets, which were now (post-1994) open to South African defence companies. The result was the RG31, which benefited from the experiences with the Casspir and Mamba.
“The launch customer proved to be the United Nations (UN), in 1995, followed by the first order from the US Army in 1996. The latest versions are the RG31 Mk 5E and Mk 6.”
Shortly after producing the RG31, TFM exited the defence business and handed over the RG31, RG32 and Casspir to OMC, which also migrated ownership from Sandock Austral to Reunert to Vickers to Alvis to BAE Systems, the current (October 2008) owner. “To date, 1388 RG31s are in service with, and 984 more are on order from, 12 countries, while 442 RG32Ms are in operation with ten countries. Most of these have been manufactured in South Africa.”
Note that the RG31, as far as is known, is not in SANDF service and has never been.
The SA Army is seeking to replace the Mamba and Casspir under a programme known as Project Sepula. Two options, a 4×4 versus a 6×6, are being debated. The Army plans a “family of vehicles” that use the same drive train and chassis as selected for the future tactical truck programme (Project Vistula).        

[1] DoD Annual Report 2005/6, p203.