The prime contractor General Dynamics Santa Barbara Sistemas would provide programme management, engineering and logistic support, while the vehicles themselves would be manufactured and supplied by Benoni-based BAE Land Systems OMC of South Africa.
The contract called for the delivery of 100 vehicles – 85 armoured personnel carriers (APCs), ten ambulances and five command post variants – plus integration of remote controlled weapon station turrets and ongoing integrated logistic support.
Work under the contract was expected to be completed by 2009. The contract included an option for a second phase for 80 additional vehicles that would include some manufacturing in Spain.
The RG-31 Mk5E is a 4x4 armored vehicle with a combat mass of up to 17 000 kg, including 3 500 kg of payload. In standard APC configuration, the air-conditioned vehicle carried a crew of 10 (driver plus nine). It is in service with many other countries including the US and Canada and has been operating in Afghanistan and Iraq.
General Dynamics Land Systems-Canada has a similar programme with BAE Systems Land Systems OMC for the manufacture of this vehicle.
The BAE Land Systems OMC facility in Benoni has benefited from upgrades to the tune of about R10-million a year for the last three years, and this has increased production capacity at the facility greatly. The factory was currently able to produce about four RG31 vehicles a day, and was ramping this up to reach production of eight vehicles a day by December.