The Tunisian military has been spotted operating the Chinese-made Dongfeng Mengshi CSK-131 armoured tactical vehicles in the streets of the capital, Tunis. The vehicles, which have a distinctive digital camouflage and the Tunisian flag, are likely to be undergoing testing and evaluation by the Tunisian armed forces.
The Dongfeng Mengshi CSK-131 is a light protected vehicle developed by the Dongfeng Corporation, a Chinese state-owned automobile manufacturer. The vehicle has a redesigned chassis from the previous EQ2060 model, with a new engine and electronics. The vehicle features onboard computers with digital map software and Beidou satellite communication and positioning system, as well as night-vision cameras for the driver and the rear door. The vehicle is also equipped with a manually controlled turret that can mount various weapons.
The Dongfeng Mengshi CSK-131 is one of the two principal light armoured vehicles currently fielded by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of China, along with the Norinco VP11. The vehicle has been exported to several countries, including Nigeria, which received a batch of the vehicles in November 2023.
The Tunisian military has been acquiring a variety of tactical vehicles in recent years, mainly from Turkey. In 2020, the Tunisian Army received a batch of Vuran armoured vehicles from the Turkish company BMC. The Vuran is a multi-purpose armoured vehicle that can perform various roles, such as troop transport, command and control, reconnaissance, and medical evacuation. The Tunisian Army also uses other Turkish armoured vehicles, such as the BMC Kirpi and the Nurol Makina Ejder Yalçin. In June 2021, BMC secured a contract to deliver 41 Kirpi mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles and five Kirpi 4×4 ambulances to Tunisia. Tunisia is the largest operator of the Kirpi vehicles after Turkey, with over 100 units in service.
The acquisition of the Chinese-made Dongfeng Mengshi CSK-131 armoured vehicles by Tunisia indicates the diversification of the country’s military suppliers and the modernization of its armed forces. The vehicles are expected to enhance the mobility and firepower of the Tunisian troops, especially in counter-terrorism and border security operations.
A Dongfeng Mengshi CSK-131 can accommodate a driver and five passengers, which means it can fit six soldiers in total. The vehicle also has a payload capacity of 2,000 kg and can carry various cargo and supplies instead of troops. The vehicle is designed to provide mobility and protection for the soldiers in various terrains and scenarios.
The Dongfeng Mengshi CSK-131 is used by China’s armed forces and has been exported to some other countries, such as Nigeria and Benin. However, the exact number of countries that use this vehicle is not clear from the available information. It is possible that there are more countries that have purchased or received this vehicle from China, but have not disclosed it publicly.