Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has officially launched an Armoured Vehicle Manufacturing and Assembly Facility in Maga Maga, near Jinja, which is currently producing the Nyoka armoured personnel carrier.
Speaking at the launch at Magamaga Army Barracks on Wednesday 8 August, Museveni said Ugandans were waking up, and encouraged further local industrial participation.
In 2012 the Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF) contracted Impala Services and Logistics, sister company of South Africa’s Twiga Services and Logistics, to design a Mamba class armoured vehicle for manufacture in Uganda. In 2012 the first two Nyokas were supplied for operational evaluations. In 2013 the manufacture and assembly of the Nyoka began in earnest in Uganda under a transfer of technology programme which continues today. The Armoured Vehicle Facility at Maga Maga Barracks has produced 20 Nyoka APC and another ten are currently being produced.
Brigadier General Byanyima, the Commander of the Motorised Infantry, said that there are plans to produce a further 13 Nyokas in the near future. Three of the current production lines are planned for use under a United Nations mission.
Since the project started, 42 technicians have been trained to manufacture and assemble the vehicles. Under the Transfer of Skills and Technology Programme, Ugandan technicians have been trained in armour welding, pneumatics, auto-electrical and mechanical skills needed to carry out manufacture of armoured vehicle hulls and the complete assembly of the Nyoka armoured vehicles.
The Nyoka upgrades required by the Uganda People’s Defence Force were based on their experience using the South African Mamba in battle. The upgrades include ballistic protection equal to NATO STANAG Level 1, shooting ports, a ballistically protected grill, air conditioning, three weapon positions on the roof, pneumatically operated rear doors, an anti-roll bar, improved braking system, infrared illuminator, improved lights and other mechanical improvements. Another requirement was that the Nyoka must use the same logistical footprint as the Buffel and Mamba.
Under the programme, armour plate is cut and bent in South Africa and shipped out to the client country for manufacture and assembly. Some armour steel is now sourced directly from Sweden, which is cut using a state of the art plasma cutter which was recently installed at the facility under the Transfer of Technology programme. Museveni hinted that in the future, steel may be sourced from Uganda rather than Sweden.
The Nyoka uses the Mamba driveline (engine, gearbox, axles), which is remanufactured while the rest of the vehicle is 100% new. The engines are remanufactured and certified in South Africa.
A Ministry of Defence spokesperson explained that the establishment of the Armoured Vehicle Manufacturing Facility was driven by a careful application of acquisition resources to both acquire armoured vehicles while at the same time develop the indigenous capabilities to maintain, repair, manufacture and assembly armoured vehicles in Uganda.
The UPDF several years ago was estimated to have 40 Mambas, as well as 20 ex-South African Buffels in service according to the IISS’s The Military Balance.
Twiga Services and Logistics recently supplied four 850 Military Patrol Boats (MPBs) to Uganda under a contract from Impala Services and Logistics. Chief of the UPDF, General David Muhoozi, said plans are underway to establish a marine workshop and a pier. The Ugandan marines plan to increase their boat fleet.