Come November next year soldiers deployed on border protection will have another 375 vehicles to use in their ongoing efforts to prevent illegal immigration and stop millions of Rand worth of contraband from entering South Africa.
What SA National Defence Force (SANDF) Chief, General Solly Shoke, termed “mobility packages” in his introduction to the 2015/16 Department of Defence annual report, have now transformed into “troop packs”.
The new vehicles are based on the widely available Toyota Landcruiser and will be delivered to the military in troop carrier, command and control and logistic variants. The new addition to the overall SANDF vehicle fleet is a soft-skinned vehicle. The decision not to armour or mine protect the troop pack was based on the fact that not a single South African military vehicle deployed on border protection over a 20 year period has been shot at.
“To date 24 vehicles have been released to the SANDF by the company doing the conversions. A decision on which borders these vehicles will be deployed to will be taken using greatest need as the priority,” said Captain (SAN) Jaco Theunissen, SSO Operational Communication at Joint Operations.
The envisaged utilisation of the troop packs, able to transport a stick of five soldiers in the troop carrier configuration, will see 25 vehicles allocated to each of the 15 companies deployed on the border protection tasking Operation Corona.
Each company deployed will have 18 troop carriers, three command and control vehicles and four logistic support vehicles at its disposal.
The troop pack development has been an in-house for the SANDF with input coming from Joint Operations, SA Military Health Service and the SA Army’s Logistic and Signals formations. Another component in the development stage was provided by the CSIR’s defence, peace, safety and security division which worked with the project officer on, among others, the vehicle’s roll cage and its stability. CSIR personnel were also part and parcel of the testing done at Armscor’s Gerotek vehicle testing site west of Pretoria.