Armor: South African MRAPs Struggle to Survive


May 27, 2011: A South African firm has received a second order from Azerbaijan for 60 Matador and Marauder MRAP (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected) vehicles. Azerbaijan bought 30 of these vehicles (15 each) two years ago, and was satisfied with the arrangement. The vehicles are assembled in Azerbaijan from South African components. The Matador is a 4x4 15 ton vehicle with a crew of two and room for 12 passengers or four tons of cargo. The slightly smaller Marauder carries up to ten people, and comes in 4x4 or 6x6 configurations. Both can be equipped with a turret, while the larger Matador can be configured to carry a mortar.

Most MRAPs on the market share design and construction techniques pioneered by South African firms that have, over the years, delivered thousands of landmine resistant vehicles to the South African armed forces. These were a great success in the 1980s. The South African technology was imported into the U.S. in 1998, and has already been used in the design of vehicles used by peacekeepers in the Balkans. Basically, MRAPs are heavy trucks (12 tons or more) that are hardened to survive bombs and mines, and cost about five to ten times more than an armored hummer.

But foreign firms have grabbed most of the MRAP export business, and pioneering South African manufacturers have to scramble for whatever they can get.





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