Lessons learned in South Africa's involvement during the Angolan Civil War (1975-2002) were implemented into new armored vehicle designs like the Rooikat ("Caracal" / "Red Cat"). The 8x8 wheeled platform was developed as a multi-mission vehicle to support existing Army tactics by providing excellent cross-country capability, balanced (and somewhat modular) offensive firepower and suitable survivability for its occupants. The Rooikat entered design in 1976 and, once introduced into service, it succeeded the storied, outgoing line of Eland Armored Cars then in service. The Rooikat has since completed its production run - seeing no export and limited combat exposure. A total of 240 vehicles were delivered with several proposed variants falling to naught.
The 8x8 wheeled approach gave the Rooikat design considerable traction in both desert and bush settings common to South Africa and its neighbors. The hull profile was shallow and the large, independently-suspended road wheels spaced well apart. Power was through a 10 cylinder water-cooled diesel unit outputting 563 horsepower and allowing for road speeds to reach 75 miles per hour (about 30mph off-road) and operational ranges to peak at 620 miles on internal fuel. The standard operating crew was four and dimensions included a running length of 27 feet, a width of 9.5 feet and a height of 8.5 feet (with turret installed). Weight was 28 tons.
The standard Rooikat hull formed the basis of a family of related models led by the original "Rooikat 76" and this was followed by the up-gunned "Rooikat 105" of 1990. These vehicles were designated by their respective, turreted main gun calibers, the Rooikat 76 outfitted with an effective 76mm system and the Rooikat 105 with a more lethal, NATO-standard 105mm rifled system. 2 x 7.62mm MG4 series machine guns were fitted for local defense, one coaxially. Additionally 8 x smoke grenade dischargers were installed and gave the Rooikat an inherent screening capability.
Beyond these two primary forms were the proposed Rooikat Surface-to-Air Missile (SAM) wheeled platform offering a mobile air defense capability to the family line. An Anti-Tank Guided Missile (ATGM) variant joined it as a prototype and the ARMSCOR ZA35 became a mobile Self-Propelled Anti-Aircraft Gun (SPAAG) platform offering defense against low-flying threats like helicopters. The latter offering incorporated 2 x M-35 series guns as well as tracking radar, gun stabilization and a digital Fire Control System (FCS).
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
✓Anti-Aircraft / Airspace Denial
Base model or variant can be used to search, track, and neutralize airborne elements at range.
✓Anti-Tank / Anti-Armor
Base model or variant can be used to track, engage, and defeat armored enemy elements at range.
Support allied ground forces through weapons, inherent capabilities, and / or onboard systems.
Engage armored vehicles of similar form and function.
26.9 ft 8.2 m
9.5 ft 2.9 m
8.5 ft 2.6 m
55,997 lb 25,400 kg
28.0 tons MEDIUM
(Showcased structural values pertain to the base Denel Rooikat (Caracal / Red Cat) production variant. Length typically includes main gun in forward position if applicable to the design)
1 x 10-cylinder water-cooled diesel engine developing 563 horsepower.
Rooikat 76 - 1 x 76mm main gun in turret; 1 x 7.62mm coaxial machine gun.
Rooikat 105 - 1 x 105mm main gun in turret; 1 x 7.62mm coaxial machine gun.
Rooikat ZA35 - 2 x 35mm M-35 autocannons
Rooikat SAM - Short-ranged Surface-to-Air Missiles (SAMs).
(Not all weapon types may be represented in the showcase above)
Dependent upon armament fit.
Rooikat - Base Series Name
Rooikat 76 - Armed with 76mm turreted main gun
Rooikat 105 - Armed with 105mm turreted main gun
Rooikat ZA35 - Self-Propelled Anti-Aircaft Gun vehicle; fitted with FCS, radar and 2 x 35mm autocannons.
Rooikat SAM - Proposed Surface-to-Air Missile vehicle
Rooikat AT - Proposed Anti-Tank Guided Missile vehicle
Ribbon graphics not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns / operations.
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Image from official Denel land Systems marketing material.
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