BAE Systems Land Systems OMC has confirmed it will build the US Marine Corps a further 250 RG31 Mk5E Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) by October this year under a US$227.4 million order awarded last week.
The company says the new RG31 Mk5E version utilises the same driveline as the RG31 Mk5EM, 100 of which were sold during the previous MRAP contract completed in May 2009. A further enhancement includes an independent suspension system, which improves vehicle mobility and ride comfort. “Combined with ease of handling, improved crew comfort, V-shaped hull for excellent mine and IED [improvised explosive device, i.e. road-side bomb] protection, the RG31 is one of the best vehicles for the harsh off-road conditions of Afghanistan, where the vehicles will be deployed,” the company says in a media release.
All vehicles will be manufactured in South Africa and delivery of the vehicles to General Dynamics Land Systems-Canada will take place later in the year.
BAE Systems Land Systems South Africa MD Johan Steyn says the “follow-on order testifies both to the reliability of the RG31 design and its build quality, but more importantly, the capability this
battle proven vehicle with its superior protection levels gives to the men and women in uniform. It proves once again the integrity of BAE Systems’ engineering and manufacturing excellence.”
The contract is also in addition to the 1302 other RG-31 Mk5 Category II vehicles already supplied by General Dynamics under the MRAP programme (taking the total to 1402). Separately, an additional 584 RG-31s were previously ordered by the U.S. Army TACOM Life Cycle Management Command for route-clearance vehicles.
“We appreciate the confidence that the US military has in the RG-31 vehicle, as they conduct their missions in a dangerous and uncertain environment,” said Dr. Sridhar Sridharan, senior vice-president of General Dynamics Land Systems-Canada. “We are pleased to have the opportunity to once again assist in protecting the lives of US soldiers.” The contract was signed through the Canadian Commercial Corporation, a Crown Agency of the Canadian Government.
In addition to the RG31 BAE Systems also produces the RG12 and the RG32M protected vehicles as well as the RG33 4×4 and RG33L 6×6 MRAP vehicles, the latter two manufactured in the US.
According to the wikipedia, the vehicle, in various marks, is used by the Canadian Forces (75 Mk3 with Protector M151 Remote Weapon Station); Colombia (4); France (100 on loan from the US), the Netherlands (5 on loan); Rwanda (6); Spain (100 Mk5E with Samson remote Weapon Station with option for 80 more); United Arab Emirates (76 Mk5); and the US: Special Operations Command: 50 Mk5A1S; US Army: 148 Mk3, 257 Mk5A1 and 111 Mk5E; and the USMC: 12 Mk5A (MRAP Cat I) and 1385 Mk5E (MRAP Cat II). The United Nations operates 30.
The Engineering News notes in a report dated February 2009 that since receiving a Canadian armed forces order for RG31 Mk3 vehicles in 2003, the South African RG-series of products have boosted the country’s exports by more than $430-million.