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Military Capabilities

Zimbabwe’s army deploys more vehicle types in Harare

23 November 2017
Presidential Guard soldiers are seen with a TPK 420 BL on 18 November. Source: AFP/Getty Images

The range of armoured vehicles deployed by the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) during Operation ‘Restore Legacy’ from 14 November has indicated a surprisingly high level of serviceability despite the country’s economic problems.

Only Chinese Type 89 armoured vehicles were seen on the streets of Harare in the initial stages of the effort to oust Robert Mugabe from the presidency.

These were subsequently joined by French-made ACMAT TPK 420 BL wheeled armoured personnel carriers (APCs) armed with .50-calibre machine guns and operated by Presidential Guard soldiers identified by their yellow berets.

The TPK 420 BL combines an armoured hull with the chassis of the VLRA 4x4 utility vehicle. It has a combat weight of 7.8 tonnes, a crew of two, and can carry eight dismounts. Zimbabwe is reported to have acquired 55 TPK 420 BLs in 1999.

Brazilian-made Engesa EE-9 Cascavel armoured cars were also spotted, with one photograph showing at least three in the vicinity of the State House. Zimbabwe received several dozen EE-9s in the 1980s and deployed them in combat operations in Mozambique and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where some were lost.

Like the TPK 420 BLs, the EE-9s seen in Harare appeared to be in excellent condition.

A single Mine Protected Combat Vehicle (MPCV) has also been observed. The MPCV consists of an armoured V-shaped hull built on a Mercedes Unimog 4x4 truck chassis. It has a one-man turret that can be armed with a 7.62 or 12.7 mm machine gun and has room for up to ten dismounts.

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