Last week on 02 June, the privately owned South African defence giant Paramount Group took the wraps off its new 8×8 wheeled armoured fighting vehicle (AFV) – the Mbombe 8.
According to Paramount Group, the Mbombe 8 was developed through the company’s other armoured vehicle programs – i.e. the Mbombe 4 and Mbombe 6 mine-resistant ambush-protected (MRAP) vehicles and Marauder armoured utility vehicle.
As a result, Paramount Group’s family of armoured vehicles share over 80% in terms of components, thus reducing maintenance and logistics costs should a customer buy multiple vehicle types.
With the addition of the Mbombe 8, Paramount Group is now able to offer potential buyers solutions in effectively all armoured personnel carrier (APC) classes, from 4×4 MRAPs to 8×8 AFVs.
Paramount Group claims that the Mbombe 8 has been tested in environments as cold as -55° C and as hot as +55° C. The Mbombe 8’s ballistic protection level is at STANAG 4569 Level 3+, and its blast protection sits at STANAG 4569 Level 4a and 4b. This is comparable to other modern 8×8 APCs, such as the Patria.
Comment and Analysis
The Mbombe 8 is similar in concept to other 8×8 armoured personnel carriers (APC) – such as the Finnish Patria, Chinese VN-1 and Serbian Lazar 2 – in that it is capable of taking on a wide range of roles in support of an army’s land warfare needs. These 8×8 APCs can be equipped for anti-infantry combat, artillery fire (and/or support), medical evacuation, and potentially even very short-range air defence (VSHORAD).
Wheeled APCs cannot substitute for main battle tanks (MBT), but can provide agile support (and infantry movement) on roads and hard-soil. Although its benefit could readily be seen in some counterinsurgency (COIN) applications (particularly combat in urban environments), the reality of expanding road networks means wheeled APCs could be of use in conventional war scenarios as well.
Paramount Group has timed the release of the Mbombe 8 quite nicely considering that a number of major prospective arms buyers are gearing up to procure 8×8 APCs. The company succeeded in securing Jordan as a buyer for the Mbombe 6, but the Mbombe 8 certainly broadens the scope. For example, Pakistan has been seeking an 8×8 APC design for a few years (having even evaluated the Serbian Lazar 2), and chose the NORINCO VN-1. A trend towards 8×8 APC seems to be occurring, and if Paramount Group aggressively competes in terms of cost as well as offering offsets and transfer-of-technology gains, it could see success.
A side note, but Paramount Group is also developing a lightweight attacker and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft – the Mwari. With the Mbombe series of armoured vehicles and Mwari, the company is building a comprehensive portfolio of products. Strong commercial success at this stage could set Paramount Group up for more ambitious programs over the medium and long-term.