Specialist Denel division Mechem is about to ship off the first three wide body ambulance versions of its popular Casspir armoured personnel carrier and will deliver them to the United Nations in Somalia.
The United Nations and Angola are the launch customers of the wide body ambulance, the latest version of the Casspir NG2000, development of which was completed in 2012. The United Nations will use the vehicles as part of the Amisom hybrid African Union and UN mission in Somalia.
Ashley Williams, General Manager of Mechem, told defenceWeb that the vehicles would be shipped out within a week. He said the wide body ambulance has the same dimensions as the Rinkhals armoured ambulance and can accommodate four lying and two sitting patients plus two medics. The vehicle is fully equipped to treat any operational casualty. Older generation Casspir ambulances were much more confined and could only accommodate two stretchers, one sitting patient and a medic.
The new generation NG2000 Casspirs feature more powerful engines and better manufacturing techniques than their predecessors and can withstand a 21 kg TNG blast under a wheel and a 14 kg blast under the hull. Various Casspir NG2000 variants are available, including cargo, water, fuel, command and control, infantry fighting, and recovery. To meet customer demand, the vehicles can be fitted with different drivetrains, such as Mercedes or Powerstar South Africa.
Williams said that Mechem was mainly focusing on Casspirs as there is still a big need for them. Mechem also offers armoured truck cabs and two countries are interested in this product at the moment. Benin became the launch customer for the armoured trucks and has also bought Casspir NG2000s.
Because customers often want fast turnaround times on vehicle deliveries, Mechem has decided to keep a small stock of vehicles, with around 15-20 Casspirs as stock on hand.
Williams said an African country has just signed a large vehicle order but the contract is still being finalised. He estimated demand for 50 to 100 Casspirs a year – Mechem sold 50 last year.