The French Army’s Souvim 2 mine clearing vehicle, based on the South African Husky, is actively deployed in Mali where it is tasked with ensuring roads are safe for convoys.
The French Ministry of Defence said the Souvim 1 had proven itself in Afghanistan, and from late last year the Souvim 2 has been deployed to the Sahel.
The vehicle has been produced by MBDA for the French military since 2008, with deliveries concluding in 2010. It was designed for use in mobility support missions, allowing quick clearing of mined paths over long distances behind the lines: over 100 km of track can be cleared daily, according to MBDA.
The system relies on the combined action of two vehicles towing mine-activation trailers. The first vehicle is designed to roll over a pressure mine without activating it, but carries magnetic and thermal decoys to trigger heat sensitive, tripwire and tilt-rod activated mines. It tows behind it a first “mine-triggering trailer” (RDM) whose weight will trigger pressure-sensitive mines and thereby secure the second vehicle’s progress. This latter vehicle tows two further RDMs whose different wheel bases help cover the whole width of the track to be cleared (up to 3.9 metres).
The Souvim 2 is based on DCD Protected Mobility’s highly successful Husky vehicle, but with various modifications such as additional armour, roll-over escape hatch, air conditioning, communications and a new set of much larger heavy duty wheels.
The French military bought a small number of Meerkat/Chubby route clearance vehicles from South Africa in 1995.
The Souvim 2 vehicles form an important component of France’s Barkhane force in the Sahel, especially with the prevalence of landmines – for instance, on 9 February a civilian truck hit a mine, killing five and wounding 18 near the town of Kona, Mali. Also this year a Minusma patrol was attacked by improvised explosive device and gunfire in the Tabankort region.