Casspir Mk III

Manufacturer: Denel Vehicle Systems - DVS  
Product type: Auxiliary Vehicles  
Name: Mine protected carrier  

The original South African mine-protected Vehicle (MPV) was based on a Bedford (4 × 4) truck chassis. This was followed by the Casspir Mk I vehicle, about 200 of which were built between 1979 and 1980.

In 1981, production of the Casspir was taken over by TFM Limited, which developed the improved Mk II vehicle. Externally there is not a lot of difference between the Mk I and Mk II vehicles. The Mk I had a left-side escape hatch that was ineffective, a longer rear overhang and early models had a 120 hp engine.

TFM overhauled a large number of the original Casspir Mk I vehicles from 1981.

The actual name Casspir refers both to the complete family of vehicles and to the armoured personnel carrier model, some 700 of which, in both Mk I and Mk II versions, had been built by late 1986.

The main difference between the Mk II and Mk III vehicles is a change in axle type and ratio, as well as the equipment it is required to carry, hence the overall increase in weight of the vehicle.

Using the same unitary hull, dimensions and driveline, TFM developed a range of supporting vehicles that have also been produced in quantity.

In designing the Casspir range of vehicles, special attention has been paid to protecting the vehicle against anti-tank land mines. According to the manufacturer, field repair times after a single Anti-Tank mine, the Russian TM-57 or equivalent, are between 1 and 2 hours and after a multiple detonation of mines, 8 to 12 hours. The practical limit to this mine protection is a mine or mines equivalent to 18 to 20 kg of TNT/RDX.

By early 1996, total production of the Casspir family of armoured personnel carriers amounted to around 2,500 vehicles, about 460 of which had been refurbished or upgraded by TFM.

Production of the Casspir family of 4 × 4 vehicles has not taken place since 1993/94, however, an extensive rebuilding programme of old series Casspirs has taken place in South Africa.

Early in 1997, the TFM Defence and Security Division was taken over by and its product range integrated with Reumech OMC. This company, in turn, was taken over by Vickers Defence Systems of the UK late in 1999 and renamed Vickers OMC. Late in 2002, Alvis PLC purchased Vickers Defence Systems who owned Vickers OMC and the latter company was then renamed Alvis OMC. Late in 2004 Alvis Vickers was taken over by BAE Systems and Alvis OMC was renamed BAE Systems Land Systems OMC.

Within South Africa, most Casspir vehicles are used by the police and internal security forces but in 1996 the South African National Defence Force stated that it had a total of 372 Casspir weapon platforms in service.

As of late 2007 there was no date when the Casspir would be phased out of service in South Africa.

In the longer term, the remaining Casspir and Mamba (4 × 4) vehicles in service with the South African Army will be replaced by a new generation of vehicles, which will share some common components with a new fleet of 4 × 4 and 6 × 6 tactical trucks that are expected to be fielded in the future to replace the current SAMIL range of tactical trucks.

With the downsizing of the South African Army significant quantities of Casspir vehicles have become surplus to requirements. Description

The monocoque hull of the Casspir is of all-welded steel armour and will withstand attack by 5.56 or 7.62 mm NATO ball ammunition as well as shell splinters. If required by the customer, protection can also be provided against 7.62 mm armour-piercing attack.

The running components of the Casspir are derived from a commercial 15 tonne truck and the vehicle is powered by a locally produced ADE six-cylinder diesel developing 170 hp coupled to a five-speed manual transmission and a two-speed transfer case. Limited slip differential axles are fitted as standard.

The engine, transmission and fuel tank are all contained within the armoured hull of the Casspir for maximum protection.

The protected engine compartment is at the front with the armoured crew compartment extending right to the rear.

The commander and driver are seated to the rear of the engine compartment with the commander on the left and the driver on the right. The commander also operates the weapons if installed. To the front and sides of the commander and driver are bulletproof windows 52 mm thick which provide the same level of protection as the hull.

A double machine gun mounting has been designed for the optional installation of either twin 7.62 mm Browning machine guns or twin Denel Land Systems 5.56 mm SS-77 machine guns. A single 7.62 mm Browning machine gun mounting is provided in the front left window.

The troop compartment extends right to the rear of the vehicle and the 10 troops sit five each side facing each other on individual seats with four-point safety harnesses.

In each side of the hull are six rectangular firing ports and three oblong bulletproof windows.

The troops enter and leave via two doors in the rear, both of which have a bulletproof vision block and firing port underneath. The rear doors are power assisted and remote controlled. There are six hatches in the roof and the crew compartment is force-ventilated by two impeller fans.

The original versions of the Casspir had an open roof, but steel roofs are fitted to vehicles used in the IS role for protection against petrol bombs and grenades.

All versions of the Casspir armoured personnel carriers have a 200 litre drinking water tank, two spare wheels and tyres and are designed for an operational range between 600 and 800 km lasting for five to seven days.

Standard equipment also includes two fire extinguishers, a tow hook and D-eyes at the rear and a towing pin at the front.

Optional equipment includes floodlights, searchlights and a pneumatically controlled drop-down front bumper for clearing obstacles.

More recently, the Casspir has been marketed with a number of additional options including run flat inserts, armoured roof and protection against armour-piercing discarding sabot ammunition. Variants

Indian Casspir APCs

In September 1998, the Indian Army awarded the then Reumech OMC a contract worth USD11.5 million to supply 90 remanufactured Casspir Mk II (4 × 4) mine protected vehicles.

All 90 vehicles were remanufactured and delivered to the Indian Army by September 1999 where they are used in counter-insurgency operations. India subsequently placed additional orders for the Casspir, which brought the total number of vehicles supplied by the now BAE Systems Land Systems OMC to 165 units.

Casspir Mk IIC(I)

This is the latest version of the Casspir family of 4 × 4 mine protected vehicles. According to the manufacturer this is already in service with the South African Army and other international users.

The main difference is the installation of a Tata driveline system that is claimed to ensure ease of maintenance, high availability and cost effective operational use.

The power pack consists of a Tata 697 TC diesel developing 157 hp at 2,800 rpm coupled to a Tata GBS-50 transmission with five forward and one reverse gears and a Tata transfer case.

The front axles are Tata FA 106 rated at 6,500 kg while the rear axles are Tata RA 106 rated at 10,000 kg.

The specification of the Casspir Mk IIC(I) is similar to that in the table, except that it has a gross vehicle weight of 10,900 kg, of which 1,400 kg is the payload with a towing capacity of 5,000 kg

SANDF upgraded Casspir APC

In July 2004 it was announced that the now BAE Systems Land Systems OMC had been awarded an upgrade and refurbishment contract, from the Armament Corporation of South Africa, worth EUR21 million for the upgrade of 174 Casspir Mk II vehicles used by the South African National Defence Force. The upgrade and refurbishment to the enhanced Mk III standard will include structural modifications for increased mobility, with more-robust axles.

Under the terms of the contract the company will refurbish the vehicles, while Gear Ratio will supply axles manufactured under licence from ZF. The upgrade and refurbishment programme has already commenced and all vehicles were delivered by the end of 2007.

Casspir with Mercedes-Benz power pack

The Casspir has also been offered fitted with a Mercedes-Benz OM-352A diesel developing 166 hp coupled to a Mercedes-Benz MB G5 five-speed manual transmission and a Mercedes-Benz VG 500-3W transfer box. The axles have been replaced by Mercedes-Benz axles with ZF axles being offered as an alternative.

Surplus Casspir APCs

A number of companies in South Africa, including N-4 Trucks, marketed ex-South African Army Casspir vehicles. In mid-2004 the company was awarded a contract to supply 24 Casspir vehicles for an undisclosed client for use in Iraq.

Police version

This has larger windows to increase visibility for use in urban areas and the windows have grills. The grill for the commander's and driver's windscreen can be pneumatically raised for improved visibility. A wire cutter can be mounted on the roof and the front buffer can be lowered from inside the vehicle to bulldoze barricades and other obstructions.

Blesbok freighter

This has a fully armoured two-man cab at the front and a dropside rear cargo area that can carry 5 tons. One hundred and sixty units were built. All three variants (Blesbok, Duiker and Gemsbok) have individual side doors for both the commander and driver.

As an option, a 1,000 litre tank can be installed at the rear of the vehicle. Armament options include the provision for mounting a single light machine gun on the roof as well as a light machine gun mounting in the front left window.

Duiker tanker

This has a fully armoured front cab, to the rear of which is a 5,000 litre diesel fuel tank. Thirty units were built. The tank is fitted with a gravity feed system for dispensing fuel with an electrical pump as an option. Provision is made for the mounting of a single 5.56 mm light machine gun on the roof or in the front left windscreen.

Gemsbok 15 tonne recovery vehicle

This has a fully armoured cab that extends to the centre of the vehicle with seats for five people, including the crew of two, and is fitted with recovery equipment. An additional side door is fitted on the left-hand side. There were 30 units built.

Artillery fire control

The South African Army has a number of artillery fire-control vehicles based on the Casspir. Externally, these are recognisable by their additional radio antenna and a larger telescopic mast. This is also believed to have been exported.

Casspir ambulance

This is an armoured mine-protected ambulance version of the standard Casspir APC and uses a hull and power-train identical to that of the standard Casspir. The cabin interior has been adapted to carry two stretcher cases and three seats in the rear compartment with a driver and co-driver in the front. Ample storage is provided for standard medical equipment including a storage rack for drips. Standard equipment includes a toolkit stored inside the cabin compartment plus externally mounted pick and shovel and the cabin is also fitted with blackout curtains.

Plofadder mineclearing system

The rear compartment of the Casspir has been modified to accept the containerised Plofadder 160AT rocket-propelled mineclearing system.

This system is slid into the Casspir on rails and launched through the open roof. The rails for loading the container are carried on the side while on the right side is the cable drum for remote control of the system when the rocket is fired.

Mechem mineclearing vehicle

This version of the Casspir has its four standard rubber-tyred road wheels removed and replaced by four steel wheels which are used to detonate anti-personnel mines by the vehicle running over them. This version has been successfully used in South Africa and Mozambique. Another South African mine detection system, developed by Denel, is the Vehicle Array Mine Detection System (VAMIDS) which is also based on the Casspir.

MEDDS mine sensor vehicle

The Casspir is used as the sensor element of the MEDDS mineclearing system. This takes samples by remote control for later analysis and subsequent location and clearance. .

Weapon carriers

More recently, two more variants of the Casspir Mk III have been developed for use as weapons platforms, one for the Denel Land Systems 81 mm mortar and one for the US-developed 106 mm M40 recoilless Anti-Tank rifle.

Seven examples of each were delivered for extensive user trials and a total of 32 production vehicles were delivered to the South African Army for use by motorised infantry units.

The South African mechanised infantry units use special versions of the Ratel (6 × 6) vehicle for these roles, for example turntable-mounted 81 mm mortar and Kentron 127 mm ZT3 Swift Anti-Tank guided missile carrier.

The new weapon platform versions are conversions of existing vehicles and not new build vehicles.

In the case of the 81 mm mortar version, the fully enclosed crew compartment is at the front and provided with all-round protection.

The 81 mm mortar is mounted in the rear and is provided with armour protection and bulletproof windows to the sides and rear. A total of 192 81 mm mortar bombs is carried in ready use racks plus their associated fuzes and propelling charges.

By installing the 81 mm mortar in the Casspir, time into and out of action is reduced and this leads to quicker target engagement and reduced possibility of the mortars being located and neutralised.

The 106 mm M40 series recoilless rifle weapons carrier also has the fully enclosed troop compartment at the front but the sides and rear can be quickly folded down into the horizontal position to allow the weapon to be laid onto the target. A total of 12 rounds of 106 mm High-Explosive Anti-Tank (HEAT) ammunition is carried for ready use.

In both cases the weapons can also be removed from the vehicle and used in the ground role if required by the tactical situation or if the vehicle becomes damaged or disabled. Weapon tactics and drills are similar to those of the weapons mounted on other South African Army vehicles. A roof-mounted 7.62 mm machine gun is provided for local defence.

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Casspir Mk III
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