The South African Army paved the way for large scale adoption of effective mine-resistant vehicles during the 1970s and many nations have since adopted the type as standard. With such a long running history, the mine-resistant vehicle has evolved considerably along with breakthroughs in battlefield survival technology. Beyond well-placed armor, the vehicles utilized a "v-shaped" hull which deflects some of the blast forces away from the crew cabin and blast resistance seats, run-flat tires, and bulletproof windscreens only add to the survivability factory. The RG-33 Medium Mine-Protected Vehicle (MMMPV), designed by Land Systems OMC and manufactured by BAe Systems Land Systems South Africa, was introduced in 2007 to offer an all-modern solution to growing battlefield needs - particularly in the aftermath of the U.S.-led invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq which showcased a first-rate army woefully under-equipped to combat IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices) and RPG (Rocket-Propelled Grenade) attacks.
Like other vehicles in its class, the RG-33 features a v-shaped hull of monocoque design. Overall dimensions vary due to two primary models featured - a 4x4 wheeled form (the RG-33) and a 6x6 wheeled form (the RG-33L) with slight differences between. Power is from a Cummins 400 series diesel-fueled engine of400 horsepower mated to an Allison 3200 series transmission system which allows for a maximum road speed just under 70 miles per hour. Suspension is to all six wheels and ground clearance is a useful fourteen inches which aids in cross-country travel and keeps the hull further away from a mine blast under the vehicle. A standard operating crew is two with seating for up to eight in the 6-wheeled model. Armament is variable - either through a manned, armored turret or through a Remote Weapon System (RWS) fit. Either arrangement can see anything from a 7.62mm/12.7mm machine gun and/or 40mm automatic grenade launcher (or similar) fitted. Personal weapons carried by the passengers can also come into play in a given firefight.
To date, the only operators of the RG-33 family have been the Croatian Army, the United States Army, the United States Marine Corps, and U.S. SOCOM (Special Forces). Testing of USMC units began in January of 2007 and orders followed in February with a second order coming in June. A contract was given in December 2012 to modify existing RG-33Ls to a new standard supporting UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) systems, improved situational awareness, more modular equipment fits, and bigger bulletproof windows.
Armored/armed ambulance, Command & Control (C2), and flat bed cargo hauling versions have since been added to the marketed line. There is also a specialized IED model with a robotic extension arm fitted to the front bumper and used for detonating explosive devices without directly endangering the crew.