Africa Aerospace & Defence 2016

Concept vehicle demonstrated [AAD16D3]

16 September 2016

South Africa’s Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) is showing publicly for the first time a light tactical vehicle technology demonstrator.

As shown outside Hangar 3, the vehicle is based on a Mercedes- Benz G-Class short wheelbase chassis that was evaluated by French airborne forces some years ago, and was subsequently used by CSIR as a platform for technology testing that included use as a firing platform for 60 and 81mm mortars.

Any future production could utilise the current generation G-Class military or Professional chassis, although CSIR points out that other chassis and driveline options are available. These options could include the regionally favoured Toyota Land Cruiser 70 series, the base chassis and any modifications to it ultimately dictating payload and gross vehicle weights. A further option could include a CSIR-designed chassis with automotives selected to suit regional and/or user requirements.

Developed over four months as a private venture by CSIR’s Landward Sciences, the concept vehicle as shown is not targeted at any specific requirement or user, although throughout the design process considerable top hamper input was received from South Africa’s air mobile forces. The top hamper’s substructure and the integral rollover protection system (ROPS) is constructed from SSAB Docol 800, offering considerable weight and ease of manufacture advantages over the more traditional carbon steel. From the engine compartment firewall backwards, total weight of the substructure and ROPS is just 136kg, which is an important weight-saving factor when dealing with a vehicle intended for use by airmobile forces, and one that could be internally transportable by tilt-rotor aircraft. For further weight saving, aluminium body panels are fitted to the demonstrator, although options include steel or composites, allowing for a degree of ballistic or underbody blast protection for the crew. The windscreen frame is designed to accept ballistic glass, folds forward onto the bonnet if required, and is of split configuration.

The demonstrator is fitted with a 107mm multiple rocket launch system (MLRS), but armament options are varied and can include mortars, a recoilless rifle, an automatic grenade launcher, and light and heavy machine guns. The upper structure can be reconfigured to include a ring-mount, other non-firepower related options including a selection of reconnaissance aids. Multiple hardpoints around the vehicle are designed to accept options including weapons, situational awareness and command/control aids. For example, the front seat passenger’s hardpoint is currently fitted for a ruggedised laptop, but this could easily accept a light machine gun on a swing arm-type mount. The rear body could also be configured, or reconfigured, for a logistics/cargo role.

According to CSIR, the vehicle has attracted unexpected levels of interest from potential customers at the show, is ready for user trials and could enter production via an industry partner.

(453 words)