Navistar Defence showcasing vehicles to SANDF


South African Special Forces, Armscor and the CSIR viewed and tested a range of Navistar military vehicles at the Gerotek Vehicle Test Facilities outside Pretoria yesterday.

Dicky Commandeur, Vice President, Africa Region for Navistar Defence, told defenceWeb that the special forces were interested in the Special Operations Tactical Vehicle, which is being offered to the United States Special Operations Command as part of its Ground Mobility Vehicle 1.1 programme. South African special forces currently use the Hornet Rapid Deployment Reconnaissance Vehicle (RDRV).

The Special Operations Tactical Vehicle has been designed for maximum off-road speed and mobility in all environments and comes in three, five and seven-man variants. It can be transported inside a Boeing CH-47 Chinook helicopter.

Another vehicle demonstrated was the Saratoga light weight, high mobility multipurpose vehicle. The 4×4 Saratoga weighs 14 800 lb and can carry a payload of 7 200 lb. It is available with metallic or composite add-on armour and is designed to withstand small arms fire, mine blasts and IEDs. Four passengers can be seated in the cabin, together with an optional gunner.

The Navistar-Tatra ATX-6 vehicle is being offered for the SANDF’s long-delayed Project Vistula, which seeks to acquire new supply and support vehicles. Vistula could involve at least 1 000 vehicles but could see as many as 5 or 6 000 vehicles in total: 2 000 8×8 units, 1 200 6×6 units and 1 800 4×4 units.

The 6×6 ATX-6 can carry a 17 ton payload and features a cabin that can be up-armoured. Curb weight is 26 700 lb. It was developed jointly with Czech company Tatra, which supplied the chassis and suspension systems (Navistar supplied the engine).

The vehicles, including the truck, were put through a punishing series of tests, including gradients up to 70%, vertical steps of between 30 and 50 cm, rocky off-road routes and concrete waves.

The vehicles were shipped out from the United States and demonstrated at the Africa Aerospace and Defence exhibition outside Pretoria last week. Commandeur said Navistar had had a ‘superb reaction’ from AAD and its products had attracted a lot of interest, but not just from the military but other sectors as well, such as anti-poaching, border surveillance etc.

Commandeur said that in Africa, Navistar was active in the commercial market, primarily supplying cab over truck heavy transport vehicles, with a heavy footprint in South Africa and growing into Zambia, Botswana, Mozambique, Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya. Around 12 000 commercial vehicles have been delivered to southern African and Navistar is working on improving is presence in Africa, with focus on East and West African countries.

With regard to defence, Commandeur said that Navistar was not yet present in this market in Africa, but would be ‘the new entrant’. Although there is great demand for military vehicles in Africa, funding remains a hurdle. However, Commandeur was optimistic about getting involved with military refurbishment and upgrading programmes.

Navistar Defence also brought out an MRAP towing/recovery vehicle to South Africa. Approximately 300 MRAP recovery vehicles are in operation in Afghanistan with United States forces.