Defence company BAE Systems Land Systems South Africa introduced the locally developed multipurpose RG35 6 × 6 vehicle, a crossover vehicle between a personnel carrier and a fighting vehicle, to the international markets late last year.
BAE Systems Land Systems South Africa MD Johan Steyn says that the RG35 is midway between an 8 × 8 and a 4 × 4 vehicle and is very well protected against land mines. The payload is also significantly higher with better protection and an attractive price.
The RG35 combines the high survivability levels of the RG31 mine-protected vehicle with the tactical capability of modern fighting vehicles. It offers good on- and off-road mobility, protection and sustainability and meets modern operational, support and logistical requirements.
The vehicle can carry light and medium -size turrets, as well as direct- or indirect-fire weapons. It can also be customised to operate in a variety of roles, such as an ambulance, a weapons carrier or as a vehicle recovery and command post. The company does regular market analysis to determine where to focus its exports.
Meanwhile, the company reports that exports have a positive impact on the local industry, as it makes new innovation and developments available to the South African customer without having to invest too much in research and development.
“The local defence industry was too dependent on South Africa’s defence acquisition, disposals, and research and development agency Armscor and local customers to provide funds and retain professional skills in the past. This has been a challenge for about ten years. The industry must now focus on securing business abroad,” says Steyn.
The unattractive image of the defence indus- try has resulted in a number of challenges, such as the recruitment of skilled, experienced engineers and the development of new skills.