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RG-31 Mamba Armored Personnel Carrier (APC)

The Mamba armored personnel carrier is a wheeled, mine-resistant type designed and developed in South Africa specifically for conditions in Africa. The Mamba is the primary vehicle of the South African army military police. This patrol vehicle is based on a Unimog truck chassis, with armor added. The entry for the crew and troops is at the rear through a large door. The seats have four-point harnesses. Five passengers sit on the left and four on the right side of the rear. The commander has a hatch on the roof with a weapon mount. The windows are bullet resistant. The Mamba is also used as an ambulance, command vehicle, VIP transport, and logistics vehicle.

The slightly underpowered and much too bouncy Mamba 4x4 mine and small arms protected Armored Personnel Carrier (APC) is now the prime APC of the SA Army, though it is by no means universally popular. The Mamba 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.

Over 500 units of the Mamba were produced for the SANDF as a 2X4, first by TFM and then by Reumech OMC. TFM then built a 4X4 adaption of this vehicle and sold it in competition to the official 4X4 version (Unimog drive line components) built by Sandock Austral. TFM named their 4X4 version of the Mamba 2X4, the Nyala RG 31. The SADF 4X4 Mamba was designed by Mechem using Unimog automotives. These components are considerably more complicated to use than the components TFM chose for their 4X4 conversion.

The reason for this choice of drive line components was that the SADF logistic section handled Unimog parts as well as rebuilds of Buffel and this would therefore save money. The RG 31 (MK3A) is cheaper to build and supply because of the automotive components choice. Sandock Austral modified the Mamba and called it Romad, which also used Unimog parts. Vickers/OMC only build the TFM designed RG 31 and the similarity in design with the TFM designed RG 31 and the similarity in design with the Mechem designed Mamba is evident.

Derived from the successful RG-31, the RG-31M features a military wiring harness, central tyre inflation and several other new characteristics. It is a 4x4 Mine Protected Armoured Vehicle with a crew of 5 and a combat weight of 8 400 kg. The all-steel, welded armour, monocoque hull protects the crew against small arms fire and tank mine detonations. The RG-31M has been designed to fulfil a wide spectrum of military applications in the Command, Liaison, Scouting and weapon carrier roles.

In November 2005 South African armoured vehicle manufacturer Land Systems OMC won a US$120-million order to supply the Canadian Army with 50 mine-protected troop carriers, along with an $11-million order from the United Arab Emirates armed forces - the fifth major export deal secured by the firm in 2005. In May 2005, Land Systems announced a $10-million order for 30 of its RG-12 public-order vehicles from the Italian Carabinieri and a $28-million order for 100 of its RG-32M light armoured vehicles for the Swedish Defence Force. In February 2005 the US Army placed an order with the company for 148 RG-31 vehicles worth around $78-million.

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