South African State-owned defence industrial group Denel announced early this month that 21 of its Casspir NG2000 mine-protected vehicles were ready for handing over to an African customer, completing an order for 45 of the vehicles. The first batch of 24 was delivered to the customer in December last year. The client country has not been identified, but previous media reports suggest that it could be Angola.
“To strengthen Denel’s commitment, we have two in-country technical representatives who aid and assist the client on all technical matters and facilitate fleet management and support training,” highlighted Denel Mechem GM Peter Faro. This has pleased the customer, which has had past experience of buying equipment, with little or no technical support after delivery. Denel can also provide training for both drivers and technicians. It can further supply spares for Level 1 to Level 3 repairs.
The order involved eight versions of the Casspir NG2000 family. These were the ambulance, command and control, fire support, fuel tanker, recovery, troop carrier and water tanker versions. In all, there are 15 versions of the NG2000 series. Most components and the drivetrain are common to all 15 versions and can be interchanged between them. “The family of vehicles offer a wide spectrum of solutions in a ‘one force concept’ and a real force multiplier for any user in an operational theatre,” affirmed the company, which also produces a mine-protected logistical truck with the same drive train and armoured hull. Denel stated that this commonality “is much welcomed by the user because it cuts down on maintenance and repair costs, as well as [simplifying] fleet management”
These 45 Casspirs will be used to equip a newly created contingent whose main purpose will be to support African Union peace missions. The customer could place a follow-up order for a significantly larger number of NG2000 vehicles and the related mine-protected logistical vehicles.
The vehicles have been produced by Denel Mechem, globally respected for its expertise in detecting and destroying landmines, and responsible for the Casspir family. Denel describes the Casspir NG2000 as a “cutting-edge product”, “improved” but “still affordable, easy to maintain and cost-effective to operate.” Faro noted that, since production of the latest-generation Casspir was started in 2010, demand for it has been high. More than 200 have been sold to other African countries and to the United Nations. Since the original Casspir design first entered production nearly 40 years ago, more than 3 000 have been produced.
According to Denel Mechem, a Casspir can resist the blast from 14 kg of explosives under each wheel. It has an off-road cruising speed (under most conditions) of 40 km/h and a range of up to 800 km. While the original Casspir was a 4 × 4 design, the Casspir NG2000 range can be provided in both 4 × 4 and 6 × 6 versions. Alternative automatic and manual transmissions are also offered.
“Currently, Denel enjoys a big interest for local supply and has a current order running for supply to a local client,” the company also reported. No further details were given. However, in June, the City of eThekwini (centred on Durban) in KwaZulu-Natal revealed that it had contracted to buy four Casspirs from Denel. These would equip the Durban Metropolitan Police and be used for riot control tasks. It thus seems likely, but not certain, that this forms the current order for a local customer.
The South African Army remains a major operator of earlier-model Casspirs (Mark II and Mark III vehicles). They are issued to motorised infantry battalions. The name ‘Casspir’ is an anagram of the initials of the South African Police (now the South African Police Service), the original customer, and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, the original designer.