New products struggling in tough armoured vehicles market – OTT


Eighteen months ago, local company OTT Technologies unveiled three new products at Africa Aerospace and Defence 2012, including two armoured vehicles and a crowd control vehicle. However, given the tough market for armoured vehicles, selling these new models has been tough.

MN Booysen, Managing Director of OTT, told defenceWeb that the market is very low and challenging at the moment. However, when defenceWeb visited their facilities, there was plenty of activity on the factory floor, with vehicles being manufactured for a large customer.

Indeed, OTT has no problem selling existing products and refurbished vehicles, but its new products are not doing as well as expected. These new products include the latest version of the Puma armoured personnel carrier (the M36), and the 4.3 ton Marrua M27 Light Armoured Patrol Vehicle (LAPV), based on the Brazilian Agrale Marrua 4×4 utility vehicle. This lightly armoured vehicle features seating for four crewmembers and is available for patrol, rover, command and other missions. Hans Kriek, Marketing Manager for OTT, said that although there have been enquiries and proposals regarding the Marrua, no vehicles have yet been delivered. However, he remains positive that orders will soon take off.

Also unveiled at AAD 2012 was the Elephant 5 000 crowd control vehicle, based on a commercial Hino truck but available on any 13.5 ton or heavier truck. It features a 5 000 litre water tank, water cannon and dye and irritant tanks. As this is a niche product, orders have also been slow to materialise.

Kriek pointed out that the African market is a difficult one as countries have many different pressures on their finances. Nevertheless, OTT focuses on this market as its products are aimed at the lower, more affordable end of the scale. Kriek said that there is a larger market for mine-resistant, armour protected (MRAP) vehicles in Africa than for light armoured vehicles and riot control vehicles.

As a result, OTT’s Puma series have done fairly well, particularly in places like Kenya. The Puma M26 is an eight ton, ten crew vehicle based on a Tata 4×4 driveline. It is in service with Malawi and Kenya. Kriek said the Puma has performed well in Kenya, surviving numerous improvised explosive device (IED) attacks during Kenyan operations in Somalia. OTT was also contracted to repair and maintain the vehicles and deployed a mobile workshop to Nairobi.

The Puma M26 was developed into the larger M36 with room for 12 people including the driver. The Puma M36 can be used for a variety of roles, including as an armoured personnel carrier, command and control vehicle, mine and IED clearance vehicle or ambulance. The interior can be reconfigured with modules like additional radio racks, command and control equipment, etc. The all-welded V-shaped steel hull has varied protection levels, with the maximum being B7 and mine protection is greater than STANAG 4569b Level 4. A machine gun pintle mount or remotely operated turret can be fitted on the roof.

The Puma M36 weights between 11 and 14 tons depending on the level of protection and has a payload of 3 000 kg. It is powered by a 220 hp (165 kW) Ashok Leyland HA 57L 165 diesel engine, giving a maximum road speed of 100 km/h and a range of around 800 km. The use of commercial Ashok Leyland automotive components means economical after sales support.

Indeed, all new OTT vehicles are built with commercial truck parts, for ease of maintenance, cost effectiveness and low life cycle costs. Most commercial components come from Hino, Ashok Leyland and Tata. For example, the Protector M22 Light Modular Armoured Vehicle is based on the commercial Hino 300 driveline. IT is designed for police, peacekeeping, asset in transit and other tasks. The related Protector M21, based on a Hino 500 driveline, is also designed for these roles but is largely used for cash in transit work.

OTT’s vehicles have seen combat in Iraq and Afghanistan and new and remanufactured OTT vehicles are in service with Nepal, various African countries (including with African peacekeeping missions) and private companies such as Anglo American, De Beers and SBV Services (cash in transit operator). Although OTT buys ex-South African National Defence Force vehicles, it has never done business with the South African government, with all its products going to either private companies or export customers.

OTT has two separate business lines: overhauling military vehicles and manufacturing new vehicles. Kriek said OTT recently sold refurbished vehicles to an African Union (AU) country. Last year it was awarded a contract for 115 Puma vehicles for use by AU peacekeepers in Mali and is in the process of delivering these vehicles to assist with African peacekeeping efforts.

OTT was established in 1980 as a supplier of surplus military equipment. It then began refurbishing military vehicles before moving on to manufacturing new vehicles. Its product lineup includes cash in transit vehicles (which have been exported to places like Nigeria), mine protected vehicles (notably the Puma series), light armoured vehicles and crowd control vehicles.

OTT has bought hundreds of surplus South African military vehicles and offers these for sale after refurbishment. The company has also modified some of these vehicles for different roles – for instance, the Hunter 4×4 patrol and reconnaissance vehicle is based on a Samil 20 driveline.

Refurbishing Ratels is another main component of OTT’s business. These 6×6 vehicles feature a 306 hp Bussing diesel engine and can be fitted with 12.7/14.5 mm turrets.