South Africa’s Benoni-based mine- protected and armoured fighting vehicle company, BAE Systems Land Systems OMC, unveiled its latest design, the RG35, at the major British biennial defence exhibition, Defence Systems and Equipment International (better known as DSEi), in London, last week.
“We have combined a 4 × 4 mine-pro- tected vehicle with a modern 8 × 8 combat vehicle,” announced BAE Systems Land Systems South Africa MD Johan Steyn.
“It is groundbreaking. It is a new class of vehicle. The standard model is the 6 × 6 version. “But we plan a family of vehicles, and we will have a 4 × 4 vehicle.”
There is no launch customer for the RG35 yet, but the vehicle is likely to be submitted for the British Army’s Light Protected Patrol Vehicle Project. The company is confident that its new vehicle will win orders from around the world.
It was the 6 × 6 standard model that was unveiled in London. Its development is based on expertise gained – on the one hand, from the development of the Ratel and iKlwa armoured vehicles and, on the other, from the development of the RG31 mine- protected-vehicle family. The basic V-shaped design of the hull is taken from the RG31.
Advances found in the RG35 include a side-mounted power pack, which can be replaced in just 30 minutes.
Traditionally, armoured vehicle power packs have been either at the front or rear of the vehicle.
Further, the vehicle has been designed to accommodate a hybrid electric drive, once this becomes available. “It will be very easy to incorporate this drive into this vehicle,” says Steyn.
Mounting the power pack on the side creates a large internal volume and the RG35’s volume under armour is 15 m3. The vehicle can carry a driver and up to 15 passengers. All critical systems are under armour, which was not the case with previous mine-protected vehicles. It has a dual-unit air-conditioning system, so that, if one unit is lost, the other is still available.
The RG35 has a payload of nearly 15 t. One of the benefits of this is that it makes it easy to attach add-on armour to the vehicle without overloading it. It has been so designed that an addi- tional 120 mm of armour can be added to the hull bottom V, while the hull sides can take 50 mm of additional armour.
The basic version, displayed in London, is fitted with a new-generation overhead manual turret designed and developed by another unit of the company, Pretoria-based BAE Systems Land Systems Dynamics. However, a wide variety of alternative turrets will be available.
The RG35 will be available in a wide variety of versions, from the basic infantry-carrying combat vehicle to the command post vehicle, the engineering vehicle, the 120-mm-mortar vehicle, the anti-aircraft gun vehicle, the recovery vehicle, and the ambulance.
The 6 × 6 RG35 is 2,5 m wide, just over 7 m long, and 2,7 m high. It has a turning circle of 15 m, which is less than that of an RG31.
The company has already produced the hull for the first 4 × 4 version of the vehicle, and plans to have the prototype 4 × 4 completed and operational by this time next year.