After three years in production, the Milcat roars on

19th November 2023 By: Tracy Hancock - Creamer Media Contributing Editor

After three years in production, the Milcat roars on

Photo by: Donna Slater

Gauteng-based light armoured vehicle manufacturer Armoured Vehicle Solutions (AVS) has been manufacturing the Milcat for the past three years at its manufacturing facility in Pretoria East.

AVS director Michael Booysen says, over this period, the vehicle has proven itself across South Africa. The company rents the armoured vehicle to security companies and mining operations.

“The company decided on a rental business model for various reasons, one being that the company has a passion for the vehicle and would like to see the product continue to operate successfully. It also became apparent at the start of our journey that security companies have serious challenges servicing and maintaining their armoured vehicles,” elaborates Booysen.

Therefore, AVS's customers enjoy full technical support when it comes to their vehicles, as it is in the best interest of both parties that the vehicles are maintained and looked after correctly. A bespoke maintenance agreement is composed according to each client's specific needs.

“By renting the Milcat from AVS, clients have continued support for their armoured vehicles from the company that developed and manufactured it,” he states.

Being close to the armoured vehicle industry with ties to military grade armoured vehicle companies, Booysen identified the need for reliable, purpose-built armoured vehicles for the South African market and was inspired to develop the Milcat.

“The Milcat surpasses an up-armoured vehicle, which is a light skinned vehicle, such as a bakkie, with added protection that inevitably compromises the components of the vehicle as well as the structure, especially the doors, by adding weight. Doing this also compromises the usability of the vehicle as the armour takes up space inside the cabin.”

The Milcat, highlights Booysen, is built on a light truck chassis that can handle the weight of the fully armoured monocoque body – which provides all-round protection to its occupants.

“The combination of reliability, durability and affordability as well as its size sets the Milcat apart from other solutions in the industry.”

In the mining industry, the Milcat has many applications.

“Most of the time it is used for general security in and around mines to transport security personnel. It is also used in riots and periods of unrest. We also have clients that use it to transport gold safely, while others use the Milcat as a drone command unit to safely conduct reconnaissance around their mines,” explains Booysen.

He notes that, up until now, AVS has manufactured vehicles ahead of potential orders to ensure that a steady supply of stock is available to fulfil rental contracts. The company’s latest manufacturing run will end in December this year, increasing its fleet by five vehicles.

“The vehicle is designed and manufactured foremostly with reliability in mind, thereafter practicality is also a priority.”

The Milcat offers level B6 protection – protecting occupants from weapons such as AK-47s, handguns, shotguns and assault rifles. Classed as a light truck, the Milcat is much larger than a standard bakkie. The vehicle is available in two versions – a five-seater with a load bin or a seven-seater closed-canopy vehicle.

The Milcat is designed to handle the toughest terrain. It is Equipped with a ZF Z65 two-speed permanent 4X4 transfer case which includes a pneumatically operated diff lock. A front and rear diff lock are also included. The Milcat is currently fitted with a manual five-speed gearbox. However, trials are currently under way to determine the viability of a reliable automatic gearbox replacement.

With a gross vehicle mass of 7 700 kg, the seven-seater Milcat can accommodate a payload of 1 300 kg. The “bakkie” variant can accommodate 2 200 kg. The vehicle also comes with power-assisted steering and dual circuit air over hydraulic brakes.

“AVS can also customise the Milcat to meet its clients’ specific needs,” adds Booysen.

He believes that the Milcat is the ideal solution for any company looking for a purpose-built armoured vehicle to meet their security needs.