General Dynamics awarded US$42 million US Marine Corps contracts for RG-31 MRAP work

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The U.S. Marine Corps Systems Command has awarded General Dynamics Land Systems-Canada a US$41.6 million contract to install upgrade kits for 691 RG-31 Mk5E vehicles previously delivered under the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle programme.

Contracts to assemble the upgrade kits, which will enhance the survivability and operation of the RG-31 vehicles to the latest production configuration, were awarded earlier this year, General Dynamics said. Installation work will commence in August at the MRAP Sustainment Facility in Kuwait and will be completed by October next year.

The BAE Systems Land Systems OMC’s RG-31 was the first mine-resistant vehicle deployed by American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to Defence Industry Daily. Numerous upgrade contracts have been placed with General Dynamics Land Systems (GDLS) Canada, which partnered with BAE OMC of South Africa and its General Dynamics Land Systems parent in the United States. All contracts are signed through the Canadian Commercial Corporation, which is a Crown Agency of the Canadian Government (which also uses RG-31s).

On March 22 General Dynamics was awarded a US$25.2 million contract for 691 Engineering Change Proposal (ECP)/modernisation kits, which include roof armour, upgraded dash boards and automatic fire extinguishers. 45% of the work will take place in Benoni, South Africa, while another 45% will take place in Canada.

Before that contract, BAE Land Systems South Africa announced at the beginning of February it had received a R900+ million contract from GDLS Canada for RG-31 survivability and mobility upgrade kits, include improved engines, suspension and transfer cases etc. At the same time, an US$8.3 million contract for 691 modification kits for the RG-31 was ordered, with work to be done in South Africa and finishing in December this year.

The RG-31 Mk5E Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle is a versatile armoured vehicle that comes in several variants, including an armoured personnel carrier, command vehicle, ambulance, armoured utility vehicle and surveillance vehicle.

The 4×4 RG31, with its a V-shaped hull, was introduced in the mid-1990s and is superficially similar to the South African Army’s Mamba. It is certified to protect its crew from rifle and light machine gun fire, anti-tank land-mine detonations and improvised explosive devices. In its standard troop carrying configuration the Mk 5E variant can carry up to ten troops (a driver plus nine others), although it can be configured for many other roles. The vehicle is equipped with a remote-controlled weapon station armed with a 7.62mm or 12.7mm machine gun.

According to Wikipedia, the vehicle, in various marks, has been used by the Canadian Forces; Colombia; France, the Netherlands; Rwanda; Spain; United Arab Emirates; and the US: Special Operations Command, US Army and the USMC. In addition the United Nations operates 30.

South Africa exported 508 MRAP vehicles and three armoured cabins to 11 countries in calendar year 2009. Engineering News noted in a report dated February 2009 that since receiving a Canadian armed forces order for RG31 Mk3 vehicles in 2003, the South African RG-series of products have boosted the country’s exports by more than US$430-million.

In total, over 1600 RG-31 vehicles have been delivered through GDLS-C under the MRAP programme and an additional 566 RG-31s have been delivered to US forces under separate contracts.

BAE Systems says it has delivered 2 653 RG-31s to several forces, various versions, around the world.