Publication: News24 Issued: Date: 2004-05-04 Reporter: Sapa Reporter: Tisha Steyn

Army Gets Suped-Up Rooikats




Date 2004-05-04


Sapa, Tisha Steyn

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Johannesburg - The SA Army Armour Formation has received the last of 80 Rooikat armoured cars improved during a two-year, multi-million rand upgrade programme, Boksburg-based armoured vehicle manufacturer Alvis OMC said on Tuesday.

The cost of the contract, awarded by the department of defence's contracting agency, Armscor, was not disclosed.

"The maintenance and upgrade programme included Rooikat vehicles sold to the SANDF (SA National Defence Force) as early as 1989 and will ensure that they remain operable for many years to come," Alvis OMC programmes director Roelof Blignaut said in a statement.

"This significant programme reflects both the SA Army's commitment to the continued and cost-effective upgrade of its armoured vehicle fleet and confirms the upgrade and maintenance capability at Alvis OMC," he said.

The upgrade encompassed all aspects of the vehicle except the turrets, which were to be upgraded by Denel's LIW subsidiary.

The upgrade of the SANDF's remaining Rooikat vehicles was expected to continue in the future, the statement read.

The Rooikat programme follows upgrade programmes in recent years for other SANDF armoured vehicles including Ratel infantry combat vehicles, Mamba mine protected vehicles and Olifant main battle tanks.

Vertical obstacles

Alvis OMC is 75% owned by the British Alvis group, itself currently being taken over by US defence giant, General Dynamics.

The 8x8 Rooikat weighs 28 tons and has a crew of four. A total of 242 were built. It is armed with a GT-4, 76mm, 62-calibre high-pressure gun based on an Italian naval design and has a on-road top speed of 120 km/h.

Its cross country speed is 50 km/h and its range is 1 000km.

It can ford water 1.5m deep, cross ditches 2m wide and climb vertical obstacles 1m high.

Efforts from the 1990s to the present to sell the vehicle abroad have failed.

The Rooikat is designed for combat reconnaissance which entails aggressive seek and destroy operations. Its secondary roles are fire support, anti-armour and anti-guerrilla operations.

With acknowledgements to Sapa, Tisha Steyn and News24.