Skip to content

Armored Cars: Paramount Group Marauder

February 23, 2015

South African Marauder MRAP

The Marauder is the most formidable MRAP-type 4×4 outside the US and Western Europe. Together with the proven Casspir–the original mine-resistant armored truck–the Marauder maintains South Africa’s reputation for building robust troop transports.

The Marauder, however, is different from its peers because it’s finding export success in regions where demand for MRAPs is still growing, like the Middle East, Africa, and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).

In 2012 the Marauder’s profile was boosted when Azerbaijan’s cash-rich government purchased 30 together with 30 additional Matador armored trucks. The acquisition was part of President Ilham Aliyev’s rearmament program, whose goal is importing advanced weapons to deter Armenia’s designs on Nagorno-Karabakh.

Performance-wise, the Marauder is typical among vehicles of its class, albeit with slight improvements.

The Marauder weighs 24,000 lbs with space for two crew and eight passengers. A roof hatch may support an automated turret and various subsystems. Its basic armor package offers STANAG III protection.

Depending on customer requests the Matador is available in five variants, including an ambulance, and defensive features like firing ports and optional ballistic glass windows are optional. The Matador is impervious to small arms fire, IED blasts, and incoming RPG rounds. Runflat tires and a sturdy ambush protected undercarriage allows it to remain mobile even when damaged.

On paper, the Marauder deploys with an additional 10,000 lbs of cargo. This is possible thanks to a powerful six-cylinder turbo diesel engine, likely with 250 horsepower, that gives it a top speed in the 120 km/h range. Although not amphibious, the Matador fords shallow rivers and streams up to three feet deep.

A recent breakthrough for the Marauder came in late 2016 when Singapore’s armed forces unveiled the BelRex Protected Combat Support Vehicle (PCSV). The MRAP is based on the Marauder but with specific improvements for it to serve as a multirole vehicle. Its variants included a combat engineer truck, a fuel and ammunition carrier, a logistics and maintenance carrier, an ambulance, a SIGINT and recce vehicle, and a self-propelled mortar.

The Marauder is one of five wheeled vehicles developed by the Paramount Group, a major South African defense contractor. The Paramount Group was founded in 1994 by Ivor Ichikowitz, an oil trader, and his business partners to export decommissioned armored vehicles in post-Apartheid South Africa.

The BelRex Protected Combat Support Vehicle. Via Singapore Army.

The Paramount Group’s success can be traced to its involvement with developing Jordan’s KADDB Industrial Park, a complex for manufacturing dual-use systems and armaments for the Kingdom’s military. The firm’s successes multiplied from 2015 to 2016 with ventures in Asia. It helped develop a new wheeled APC for Kazakhstan called the Mbombe 8.

The Paramount Group’s marketing efforts extended to another eager client, Azerbaijan, whose government organized an arms show featuring Paramount’s vehicles. In November 2016 the Singapore army unveiled its latest MRAP–an upgraded model of the Marauder called the Protected Combat Support Vehicle (PCSV).

The Paramount Group today is a privately owned conglomerate with a broad portfolio in aerospace and security systems. Its products and services span light aircraft like the AHRLAC, offshore patrol ships, UAVs, and even a six-legged battle robot.

Ichikowitz has since diversified his holdings and now dabbles in philanthropy. He also runs a private equity fund and is one of South Africa’s wealthiest businessmen.