It has emerged that Senegal is operating Israeli Ram Mk 3 high mobility light armoured vehicles and will use them on behalf of the United Nations Operation in Cote d’Ivoire (UNOC).
The French military spent over a week last month training two Senegalese motorised infantry companies ahead of their one year deployment with UNOCI. The training was carried out at Senegal’s request and, according to the French Ministry of Defence, gives the two companies the skills and expertise to be part of the UNOCI rapid reaction force in Ivory Coast’s political capital of Yamoussoukro.
Some of the training carried out with French forces included using the vehicles to support troops, providing convoy escort, transiting urban areas, overcoming obstacles, establishing checkpoints and evacuating wounded. All these activities were carried out in accordance with UN rules of engagement. Since 2011 the French detachment in Senegal has assisted militaries in West Africa, especially with regard to peacekeeping and the launch of Operational Serval in January 2013.
The French Ministry of Defence said that the Ram vehicles provide added value in terms of mobility and protection to Senegalese forces. Pictures show at least two of the vehicles in service, painted in United Nations colours and fitted with machine gun mounts. It is not clear how many Rams have been acquired but it seems they were purchased sometime last year.
The Ram Mk 3 is manufactured by the Ramta division of Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), which describes it as a high-performance, lightweight armoured vehicle that weights 5.3 tons empty and can carry a payload of 1.2 tons. Top speed is 96 km/h thanks to an air cooled 6 litre, 6 cylinder turbocharged diesel developing 185 hp. The 160 litre fuel tanks gives a range of around 800 km. The Ram features a blast-protected belly design and all-round ballistic protection, able to withstand 7.62 mm armour piercing and 12.7 mm ball rounds.
The vehicle is offered in open or closed cabin versions, as an armoured personnel carrier, command vehicle, scout vehicle, weapon and missile carrier, air defence vehicle, mortar carrier, and special weapons and tactics (SWAT) vehicle.
The RAM has been ordered and has been proven in combat operations with more than a dozen military, paramilitary and police forces in Asia, Latin America and Africa, as well as supporting United Nations peacekeeping operations throughout the world.
Senegal’s military operates several armoured vehicles, namely around 50 AML-60/90s, ten M-8s, several M-20s, a dozen M-3 Panhards, ten M-3 half-tracks, eight Casspirs and 25 Ratel-20s. In 2009 12 Gila armoured vehicles were acquired for the police for use by peacekeepers in Darfur.