Denel of South Africa has its hand in many products related to the modern battlefield and is a well-entrenched defense industry player in the world today (2017). One of its key products is the "Casspir", evolved from a long line of Mine-Resistant, Ambush-Protected (MRAP) vehicles debuting in the fighting of the 1970s. The vehicle type emerged as specialized, high-survivability system with the Rhodesian Army and was further evolved by several companies within South Africa thereafter. Today, MRAPs are a relatively new component in the ground campaign, offering inherent crew survivability and a multi-mission mindset in design.
It says something that all leading world militaries have adopted some form of MRAP vehicle including the United States, Russia, Great Britain and France.
The Casspir sports a 4x4 wheeled arrangement with high ground clearance and protected crew spaces. The vehicle weighs in at 10.8 tons and has a length of 22.6 feet, a width of 8 feet and a height of 9.3 feet. The standard operating crew is two with passenger seating for up to twelve armed combatants. Window panes are bullet-resistant and firing ports are provided. A large opening at the rear of the hull facilitates entry/exit for the rear-set passenger cabin. There are also hatches fitted to the hull roof and from this position occupants can engage with suppression weapons like machine guns or water cannons. The engine sits in a forward compartment and consists of an Atlantis Diesel Engines OM352A turbocharged diesel-fueled unit of 166 horsepower power output. The chassis features full 4x4 suspension (leaf sprung) for excellent cross-country travel and operating ranges reach out o 770 kilometers. The high stature of the vehicle allows it to low-level cross water sources without any specialized equipment.
Design of the Casspir fell the Defense Research Unit (DRU) of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). As crew survivability was key to its successful design, the truck ultimately incorporated a high stance and V-shaped hull to better deflect blasts from under the vehicle while also keeping its occupants as far away from the explosion as practically possible. Thus emerged a vehicle with much thought given to various aspects of battlefield survival.
One of the key selling points of the Casspir is its multi-mission approach which allows it to be relatively painlessly configured for a myriad of battlefield roles. This includes Armored Personnel Carrier (APC), battlefield ambulance, general transport, mine clearance vehicle, riot control vehicle, fire support vehicle and artillery observation post. For those forces not requiring heavy armor protection from heavy-caliber arms and mostly likely to fight mobile, guerilla-type battles, the Casspir suits the requirement.
A first-batch order for 140 vehicles was had in March of 1980 by the South African Police and initial manufacture was undertaken by Henred Fruehauf until 1981 when TFM was charged instead. About this time, the series was advanced beyond the original Mk.1 production model to the updated Mk.2. Then followed the Mk.2C(I) while the Mk. 3 introduced the ADE-352T 60cylinder turbo-diesel engine to the line. The Casspir 2000 emerged as a Casspir vehicle built atop a Mercedes Benz framework and, similarly, the Casspir 2000B appeared set atop a Powerstar - North Benz framework.
The Casspir NG 2000 is the modern incarnation of the line, appearing in 2013. Today the trucks are produced under the Denel banner following its 2015 acquired 3/4 stake in BAe Systems Land Systems OMC (once Alvis Vickers / Alvis OMC).
The Casspir series claims operators from Angola and Benin to Uganda and the United States. South Africa is the clear primary operator of the line with some 370 currently (2017) in service. The type is used in police and military roles as well as in support of special forces and border patrol.
It is the Casspir design that influence the current-generation MRAP vehicles of the United States military when it found itself fully-embroiled in war across Iraq and Afghanistan.