The South African Army is on the hunt for new armoured personnel carriers (APCs) to bolster its border patrol capabilities. Seven prominent South African defence companies have stepped up to the challenge, submitting their vehicles for rigorous testing and evaluation along the nation’s borderlines.
Earlier this year, in January, Armscor initiated the search by releasing a request for information (RFI), specifying the need for a 2+8 seat APC tailored for counter-insurgency operations. The APC had to possess variable ballistic and mine protection, with the crucial capability to withstand an 8 kg mine. Impressively, eight companies responded positively to this call.
The objective behind this ambitious endeavour is to replace the existing fleet of troop packs, formerly known as border patrol Land Cruisers, with more advanced vehicles designed to fortify border security and safeguard national operations.
According to DefenceWeb, Brigadier General Bruce Motlhoki, the SA Army Director for Force Structure Development Plan, emphasized the significance of this endeavour during a stakeholder meeting in July. He stated, “The acquisition of new personnel carriers will reduce the potential risk to national security by creating deterrence and stopping cross-border movement in order to have non-porous borders.”
Among the participants in this rigorous evaluation process, DCD Protected Mobility is presenting an impressive lineup, including the Springbuck SD, Springbuck HD with Command & Control system (in conjunction with GC2T), Springbuck Multi-Platform, and potentially, the Husky, showcasing a comprehensive solution.
Twiga, on the other hand, contemplated submitting its Nyati APC but decided against it, deeming the Nyati specifications to exceed the border patrol requirements, making it more suitable for motorized infantry operations.
Over a dozen local companies received invitations from Armscor to submit their APCs for testing and functional evaluation along the border in October. They will subsequently be invited to participate in Exercise Vuk’uhlome at the South African Army Combat Training Centre in Lohatlha in November, providing an opportunity for display and exhibition.
The roster of vehicles presented for evaluation includes the RG21 and RG31 armoured personnel carriers, as well as the RG32M patrol vehicle/troop carrier fitted with an SD-ROW (Self Defence Remotely Operated Weapon) turret, as reported by Denel.
OTT Solutions is contributing its Puma M36 Mk 6 4×4 APC, Paramount is presenting its new Maatla lightweight 4×4 APC, and Milkor is offering its 4×4 APC. Automotive Investment Holdings (AIH) has collaborated with Integrated Convoy Protection (ICP) to provide the Reva V armoured personnel carrier. SVI will also participate with its Max 3 lightweight, low-cost armoured vehicle.
Functional evaluation of these armoured vehicles commenced on October 20 and will continue until November 14. The assessment will focus on various aspects, including command and control, firepower, mobility, superior protection, intelligence, and sustainability. Driver training will emphasize overcoming operator obstructions, tactics, and off-road critical mobility.
To support the enhancement of the South African National Defence Force’s (SANDF) border security capabilities, the National Treasury has allocated nearly R1 billion over the next three years. In the medium term, troop pack vehicles, originally numbering over 400, will be replaced with off-the-shelf vehicles. An allocation of R500 million is planned for this purpose in 2024/25.
Armscor is determined to make a decision on the most suitable APC by year-end, considering affordability for the SANDF. Subsequently, a request for proposals will be issued to proceed with this significant upgrade in border security.
Last year’s Exercise Vuk’uhlome saw the participation of the Motorised Modern Brigade comprises Headquarters 46 SA Brigade and its subsidiaries for the purpose of the exercise and includes 7 and 14 SAI battalions and General Botha Regiment.
Meanwhile, the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) has resuscitated hundreds of inoperable military vehicles, giving the army a much-needed boost in its capabilities.
The vehicles, which had been standing idle for years, were refurbished by technical service personnel at De Brug, Army Base outside Bloemfontein. The refurbishment process included repairing or replacing damaged parts, repainting the vehicles, and testing them to ensure that they were in good working order.
Similarly, late last year, close to a hundred Cuban military mechanics and technicians from the Caribbean Island nation’s military helped refurbish and repair more than 10,000 Samil and similar vehicles of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF). Over R277 million have been spent on repairing and preserving military vehicles, Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Defence and Military Veterans (PCDMV) was informed.