South Africa's major military vehicle manufacturer, Reumech OMC will be exhibiting a
prototype of the vehicle that could be the next-generation Infantry Combat Vehicle
(ICV) for the South African Army.
A Reutech source says the vehicle must still be
named but has a combat weight in the 25 ton-region. The vehicle is still unnamed, and
is provisionally being called the Rooikat ICV Technology Demonstrator (ICVTD). The
source says the vehicle was originally developed as an alternative front-engined
drivetrain prototype for the Rooikat (Afrikaans for the African Lynx) armoured car
The in-service Rooikat
The production model has a rear-fitted 10 cylinder
water-cooled diesel with turbo charger. Like the production Rooikat, this
is an 8x8 with the front four wheels power steered. The ICVTD has a ramp
at the rear that allows access to the troop compartment. The vehicle mounts
a Ratel-20 turret. It also has a loose top deck and could conceivably alternate
between a small turret, such as the Ratel's or a large turret, with a much
bigger turret ring, such a that of the Rooikat.
The source says the vehicle was built in the early
1980's and was dusted off for DEXSA ‘98 to show the rest of the world that
South Africa already then gave thought to the currently fashionable wheeled
heavy ICV concept.
The source reports that the vehicle is definitely on
par with the GIAT Vexstra and the Anglo-Franco-German GTK/MRAV/VBCI project.
Armour-wise the vehicle is identical to the present Rooikat. That means
it is protected against landmine blasts up to TM 46 size under a wheel, proof
against NATO 7.62mm AP all round and can withstand 23mm AP rounds on a 60
degree frontal arc (South African vehicles damaged or lost to enemy fire
during cross-border operations in southern Angola in the 1980s generally
fell foul of Russian-made ZU-23-2 AA guns used in a ground role).
Reumech's lightly-armoured 58.3 ton Tank Technology Demonstrator (TTD) will also be
exhibited again. The TTD comes with a V-8 twin turbo charged inter-cooled diesel,
delivering 920 kW @ 2100 rpm. Its armour gives frontal protection against unspecified
MBT rounds and can withstand 23mm fire or 155mm air bursts elsewhere. Many of the
tank's subsystems will also be exhibited and are on offer.
These include Avitronics' laser warning systems for
combat vehicles, AMS's meteorological sensors and mechanical actuators, and
Reutech's own series of fire control systems, and gun control systems. South
African-made tank fire control systems made news earlier this year when there
were reports that Syria was to buy a number as part of a T-72 MBT upgrade.
The reports upset both Israel and Turkey and the government's arms control
regulator, the Cabinet-level National Conventional Arms Control Committee had to
assure all that sales would not be authorised.
The Turks were doubly upset by the
reports, as South Africa had an arms embargo against them at the time related to the
Kurdish PKK insurgency. The Turks at the time had a tit-for-tat embargo against south
Africa, which is still in place. This prevents South Africa from taking part in Turkish
procurement programmes, and left the Rooivalk out of the race to supply Turkey with a
new attack helicopter.
Reumech OMC's range also includes the Shadow Special operations Forces Vehicle
co-developed with Alvis of the UK and the slightly underpowered and much too bouncy
Mamba 4x4 mine and small arms protected Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC). The
Mamba is now the prime APC of the SA Army, though it is by no means universally
The Mamba (shown left) was developed to make use of the same Unimog chassis used
by the Buffel. But at least one South African Infantry battalion earmarked for
peacekeeping duties returned the Mamba for the Casspir APC which the Mamba was
meant to replace.
The Casspir was built by TFM according to a design by the Council
for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). TFM has since been absorbed by the
Reumech group. Their Kobra (Afrikaans for Cobra), last known to be under evaluation
in Australia as the Taipan, is a larger variant built on a Unimog 2150 driveline and
comes with a more powerful engine. Reumech OMC's other major success, the
Rooikat (Afrikaans for Lynx) is also be on display.
And, lastly, two major anniversaries fall together with DEXSA ‘98. The first is the 50th
birthday of DEXSA's organiser, Armscor. The second is the 21st birthday of the Buffel
(Afrikaans for Buffalo) South Africa's first purpose-built mine-resistant armoured
personnel carrier (APC). This vehicle, used in large numbers by the former South
African Defence force, and inherited by its successor, the South African National
Defence force (SANDF) is now being phased out of service, and is being replaced by
the Mamba APC series. The Buffel was also exported to Uganda and to Sri Lanka.
Buffel 21 is to be a major theme of Armscor's own birthday exhibit.
Leon Engelbrecht is Defence Systems Daily's
correspondent in South Africa
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