The RG-31 "Nyala" is another armored vehicle entry in the MRAP (Mine-Resistant, Ambush-Protected) category offered by BAe Systems Land Systems OMC of South Africa. American and coalition experience in the urban fighting of the Afghan and Iraqi theaters of war showcased a market deficiency in well-armored vehicles when entering contested, congested city areas. Regular HUMVEEs were fodder to Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and buried land mines to the point that the series was finally "up-armored" by both officially-sanctioned kits and in-the-field modifications undertaken by crews. As such, the market for MRAP vehicles grew to the point that there are plenty of players on the global market ready to sell their wares - South African experience with such vehicles from past conflicts puts the BAe offerings ahead of the pack.
The Nyala is a 7+ ton 4x4 wheeled vehicle offering protection for its crew and drive system through a V-shaped hull, armored walls and floor and bullet resistant glass. A high ground clearance provides excellent cross-country capability. The engine installation varies based on customer and can support a Daimler-Benz, Iveco, Detroit Diesel and Cummins diesel-fueled unit as needed. The suspension system is a full 4x4 and road speeds reach 62 miles per hour with a range out to 560 miles. Dimensionally the vehicle is given a length of 21 feet, a width of 8 feet and a height of 8.6 feet. The high profile is offset some by excellent vision over-the-hood and around the vehicle proper, increasing situational awareness some.
The driver sites conventionally at front-left, aft of the engine compartment, with seating for one to his right. Passengers take up positions over the enclosed vehicle rear and circular firing ports dot the side windows of the compartment. Up to six combat-ready personnel can be carried in addition to the operating crew (some versions seat as many as eight passengers). Beyond the pair of hinged, automobile-style side doors provided for the driver and front passenger, a rear door is added for entry-exit of the cabin by the rear passengers.
The RG-31 is available in a plethora of battlefield flavors to suit customer needs: the RG-31 Mk 3A is a basic Armored Personnel Carrier (APC) variant while the RG-31 MK 5A follows as an extended-hull version of the standard Mk 5 model. The RG-31 Mk 6E is given an enhanced survivability package and the RG-31M provides additional standard features (such as a central tire inflation system) not seen in base models. The RG-31 "Charger" is a named variant in service with the United States Army and is based on the Mk 3 and Mk 5 production models outfitted with a Detroit Diesel and Cummins engine, respectively. Another named variant, the RG-31 "Sabre" is a cargo-minded form.
There is an inherent flexibility in design of the RG-31 series and, as such, weapons fits are variable. Some forces used a manned armored (open-topped) turret mounting a 0.50 caliber Heavy Machine Gun (HMG) while others opt for a Remote Weapon System (RWS) approach. Still others feature a simpler, completely open-air 0.50 caliber HMG fit.
Operators of the RG-31 series include Canada (Army, Police), Colombia (Army, limited stock), Indonesia, Iraq, Mali, Nigeria (single example), Rwanda, South Africa, Spain (Army), Swaziland (Army), the United Arab Emirates (Mk 5 version) and the United States (Army, Marine Corps and Special Forces - Mk 3 and Mk 5 models used).
Beyond its given direct-military roles, the RG-31 has been adopted by governmental security forces and has been used in general peacekeeping operations (a stock of thirty vehicles is operated by the United Nations).