South Africa fought in the Rhodesian Bush War (1964-1979) and it was during this time that thought was given to development of dedicated mine-resistant vehicles. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, the class evolved to encompass even more battlefield roles such as general security, border protection, Armored Personnel Carrier (APC), and Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV). During the aftermath of the U.S. invasion of Iraq and the urban fighting that followed, a new term was created to describe a whole new line of mine resistant vehicles - MRAP ("Mine-Resistant, Ambush Protected"). Today, many firms beyond those of South Africa now ply their wares specifically in the MRAP market. With the shift from expensive, tracked heavy armored vehicles to relatively inexpensive, wheeled forms currently taking root in Europe and elsewhere, the MRAP remains an important cog in the modern war machine.
Paramount Group made headlines in 2011 when it unveiled an all-new aircraft design through the AHRLAC ("Advanced High-Performance Reconnaissance Light Aircraft") as a low-cost solution to ongoing Close Air Support (CAS) requirements for many nations. The type has garnered considerable interest to date as it evolves in development. Not content with showcasing merely aerial solutions, the company has thrown its hat into the MRAP ring with development of a series of armored vehicles including the Mbombe - a multirole wheeled system available in two main body forms with inherent adaptability to suit customer requirements.
The basic chassis is offered in a 4x4 and 6x6 wheeled mold as the "Mbombe 4" and "Mbombe 6" respectively. The most obvious difference between these two main variants is the addition of another wheel pair for the Mbombe 6 along its extended hull and chassis which adds internal space and more hull roof and hull side surface. The rear of both vehicles feature bulletproof vision blocks along the hull sides and an entry/exit door at the rear face. Ground clearance is expectedly excellent and the hull floor of the crew/passenger cabin utilizes a new flat-bottom blast protected design to help contend with blast forces from a hidden land mine or IED. A low overall silhouette for the vehicle assists in concealing it at range and in low-lying brush. Mobility is aided through an all-wheel drive system while a proven drivetrain provides the reliability required of such vehicles in-the-field. In addition to its touted land capabilities, the Mbombe has been designed with an inherent water fording quality, able to traverse water sources up to 3-feet deep without prior preparation by the crew.
The base form of the Mbombe family is the APC while specialist models include the IFV, a Command Vehicle (CV), a 120mm Mortar Carrier, and a mobile Fire Support (FS) platform. The APC model can be outfitted with a 7.62mm or 12.7mm machine gun for local defense while carrying between six and eight passengers depending on body structure (4x4 or 6x6). The IFV model adds a manned or remotely-operated turret mounting up to a 30mm autocannon with coaxial 7.62mm or 12.7mm machine gun to contend with light armored vehicles and infantry in short-to-medium engagement ranges. Its passenger-carrying capability is only slightly reduced. The CV supports a Remote Weapon Station (RWS) mounting a 7.62mm or 12.7mm machine gun for basic defense and includes an expanded communications fit. The mortar carrier features a two-panel door over the rear section of the hull roof which opens to reveal a heavy-class field mortar for indirect fire support duty. The Anti-Armor Support Vehicle (AASV) form is given a four-tube Anti-Tank Guided Missile (ATGM) launching capability through a powered turret as well as a 12.7mm coaxial machine gun. The crew is afforded a full day/night optics fit.
The Mbombe 4 showcases a combat weight of 15,000 kilograms, 150 kmh road speed, and 700 kilometer road range. The Mbombe 6 sees a 22,5000 kilogram increased combat weight total with reduced road speed (105 kmh) though its range is expanded to 1,000 kilometers. Both versions feature run-flat tires, a Central Tire Inflation System (CTIS - optional), support for add-on armor kits for improved protection against IEDs and RPG attacks (optional), an all-modern integrated Battlefield Management System (BMS - optional), radio/intercom system (optional), and inherent blast protection up to level 4a/4b. An air conditioning system is also provided for crew and passenger comfort. Both body types use a diesel engine of 450 horsepower output.
Jordan has 50 Mbombe 6 vehicles on order with production to be handled locally.
The Mbombe 8 (detailed elsewhere on this site) is the newest Mbombe family vehicle debuted in June of 2016.