Mechem relaunches the CASSPIR MRAP

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Mechem, a subsidiary of the state arsenal Denel has relaunch the CASSPIR Mk-II mine resistant armour protected (MRAP) personnel carrier, which it says retains its reputation as the benchmark of mine protected vehicles. The relaunch also marks the company’s 50th birthday.

Established in 1960 as the Applied Chemistry Unit of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) for purposes of research and development (R&D), Mechem focused on developing mechanical and chemical technology solutions for defence-related problems. The company remained mainly involved in R&D until 1991 when it became involved in commercial demining. “Over the past 19 years Mechem has been a world leader in the field of commercial demining,” a Denel press release states.

Mechem is still the only African company accredited by the United Nations (UN) for demining operations. “The company has made an invaluable contribution to the security and peacekeeping industries – executing demining operations across Africa and successfully clearing land for civilian use. The company has become an invaluable partner to the UN working closely with the organisation in countries such as Angola, Afghanistan, Bosnia, Eritrea, Iraq Mozambique, Croatia, Sudan, DRC and Somalia successfully clearing in excess of 225 million square meters of land,” the statement adds.

Mechem has also provided Contraband Detection services for a number of years through the use of MEDDS (Mechem Explosive and Drug Detection System); a unique system of capturing air samples of a specified area and analysing the samples in a controlled environment. The MEDDS system was recently donated to the Mpumalanga canine unit of South African Police Services (SAPS) following the successful use by the canine unit for Contraband Detection at a railway track adjacent to the Lebombo border post. The company has further engaged with SAPS for possible use of the MEDDS system during the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

Mechem CE Ashley Williams says he is proud of his company’s achievement. “Mechem takes pride in performing excellently and has continued to improve on its performance. The company has pioneered a number of innovative mine action and battle area clearance applications and products that are still used by the industry today and will continue to explore more improved and cost-effective solutions”.

Denel group CE, Talib Sadik congratulated Mechem on achieving this milestone. Sadik says Mechem is one of the divisions that performed “excellently” within the group in the last year, thus contributing to the overall improved financial performance of Denel. “Preliminary financial results indicate that Denel has improved its overall financial performance substantially compared to the prior financial years. The financial results for 2009/10 are currently being audited and will be released in August 2010”.