Fact file: Casspir MRAP


An estimated 2500 of these superb have been built since the first prototype rolled out of the TFM plant in April 1979. This quintessential mine resistant, armour protected, personnel carrier is seen as one of two inspirations of the MRAP that now proliferates worldwide, the other being the TFM, (now BAE Systems SA, Land Systems OMC) RG31.

Originally developed by the then-Defence Research Unit of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research on a budget of R80 000 to a South African Police requirement for an armoured, mine-protected counterinsurgency vehicle – hence the name “CASSPIR”,an anagram for SAP and CSIR – the vehicle was also adopted in that role by the SA Army. During the Namibian-Angolan Border War (1966-1989), the CASSPIR served, inter alia with the police counterinsurgency unit commonly known as “Koevoet”, the South West African Territory Force’s 101 Battalion and the SA Defence Force’s 5 Reconnaissance Regiment (5RR). After the end of the war the 101Bn vehicles were returned to the SA Army and assigned to the motorised infantry. 5RR has been renamed 5 Special Forces Regiment. It s still believed to operate this outstanding, if elderly vehicle.



Armoured personnel carrier (APC)/mine resistant, armour protected personnel carrier (MRAPPC)


About 170 in service.



Associated project names:



BAE Systems Land Systems OMC, previously TFM.


  • Length:

  • Width:

  • Height:

  • Wheel base:

  • Ground clearance:

  • 6.9m.

  • 2.45m.

  • 3.125m.

  • 4.2m.

  • 0.33 or 0.37m (depending on axles).






  • 9.480mt.

  • 1.4mt.

  • 10.88mt.


Driver, co-driver, up to 12 passengers.


220 litres.

Water for crew:

200 litres.

Protection levels



  • Proof against 7.62x51mm Ball.

  • Will survive 3 x TM57/21kg TNT under any wheel, 2 x TM57/14kg TNT under hull.


Top speed:

Range on single refuelling:


Turning circle:

Ground pressure:

Power/mass ratio:

Can climb a __ vertical step:

Can cross a __ wide trench:

Can ford water __ deep:

Can climb a gradient of __ deg:

Can traverse a gradient of __ deg:


  • 98km/h.

  • 770km.

  • 0 to 80 in 60 seconds.

  • 17m.


  • 11.4kW/t.

  • 0.5m.

  • 1.06m.

  • 1m.

  • 27.

  • 13.5.

Drive train

Engine: .




Transfer Box:

  • Mercedes Benz OM352A 4-stroke turbo-charged, 6-cylinder diesel, 124kW (166hp) @ 2800 rpm

  • Mercedes Benz MB G3 manual\

  • Mercedes Benz VG500-3W, 2-speed, 4×4


Variants include the Blesbok cargo carrier (160 built), Duiker tanker (30), Gemsbok recovery (30), as well as a 81mm mortar prime mover and ambulance.


None fitted as standard. Six gun ports on each side and two in rear doors for self defence. Some equipped with unmanned turret fitted with MG above co-driver’s position and fired from within the vehicle. Co-driver’s position can also be equipped with MG firing through a gimbal mount in front window. A barbette can be fitted in front of commander’s hatch and these can be equipped with one or more machine guns of 5.56mm to 14.5mm. Some 20mm cannon have also been seen fitted.


A superb vehicle, now regrettably coming to end of its working life. Its ability to continue despite battle damage and ease of repair after even massive anti-tank mine blasts are legendary – largely because of its v-shaped monoque, chassis-less hull.

An estimated 2500 have been built since the first prototype rolled out of the TFM plant in April 1979 and the police placed a first order for 180 in March 1980. The type has been exported to Djibouti (9), India 255, Indonesia,Namibia, Nepal (240) and Peru1.

167 Casspirs were upgraded in 2006 as part of Project Gijima, which also included putting in place a proper logistics system for the system. The programme suffered some delay by extra work required to bring all the vehicles to the same baseline.

For a detailed history of the CASSPIR, see Peter Stiff’s Taming the Landmine, Galago, Alberton, 1986, Chapter 11. (Much of what appears in the wikipedia entry for the CASSPIR appears incorrect.)


1 Casspir, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casspir, accessed January 24, 2010.