South African armoured and mine-protected vehicle manufacturer BAE Systems Land Systems OMC (Land Systems OMC) has confirmed that it has been awarded another order for its RG31 mine-resistant ambush protected (Mrap) vehicles by the US Department of Defence.
The order is worth more than $140-million and is for 250 improved RG31 Mk5E vehicles, all of which will be manufactured in South Africa, and all of which will be supplied to the US Marine Corps (USMC).
“This follow-on order testifies both to the reliability of the RG31 design and its build quality, but more importantly, the capability this battle-proven vehicle with its superior protection levels gives to the men and women in uniform,” affirmed BAE Systems Land Systems South Africa MD Johan Steyn. “It proves once again the integrity of our engineering and manufacturing excellence.”
The prime contractor for the order is General Dynamics Land Systems Canada (GDLS-C) and Land Systems OMC (which is based in Benoni, east of Johannesburg) will deliver the vehicles to GDLS-C for fitting out with US-specific equipment and systems. Thereafter, the new RG31s will be handed over to the USMC. They will then be deployed in Afghanistan. All the new vehicles will be manufactured and delivered to GDLS-C this year.
These new RG31 Mk5Es are enhanced versions of the RG31 Mk 5EMs delivered to the US under Land Systems OMC’s last Mrap contract, which was for some 100 vehicles and which was completed in May 2009.
The most important improvement is the fitting of an independent suspension system, which not only increases ride comfort for the vehicle’s occupants but also improves its mobility.
This order will take the total number of RG31s acquired by the US to more than 2 200, of which nearly 1 800 will have been built in Benoni. To date, the Americans have acquired four main variants of the RG31, namely the Mk 3, Mk 5, Mk 5A, and Mk 5E.
The RG31 is a 4x4 vehicle with a V-shaped hull, which can protect its crew from rifle and light machine gun fire, anti-tank landmine detonations, and a considerable variety of improvised explosive devices. In its standard armoured personnel carrier configuration, the RG31 Mk 5E can carry ten troops (a driver plus nine others), but the modular arrangement of its interior allows it to be configured for many other tactical roles.