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Armored Cars: Plasan SandCat

June 27, 2017

Via Wikimedia Commons.

The SandCat’s origins go back more than a decade ago when it was shown to prospective customers as a lightweight multirole armored 4×4. While not the earliest example of a “modular” truck, the vehicle that emerged from 2005 to 2006 represented a tailored performance-centric approach for a military’s tough wheeled transports.

If the SandCat looks too familiar this is because it’s a Ford F-series pickup with a customized shell. While not a novel idea its creator, Plasan, certainly brought it to new heights with a truck they claim can do almost any job. With years of providing “armor solutions” and maintenance for military motor pools, Plasan’s original Caracal was a serious attempt at branding a vehicle of its own.

The SandCat, which acquired its current name after being licensed by US truckmaker Oshkosh for the North American market in 2009, is recognizable for its kinship with a Ford truck. Just look at the hood and grille.

Plasan insists its SandCat is a true multirole platform. In reality the basic SandCat, which runs on a Ford 1.7l turbo diesel engine, seats four people in its cab with space to spare at the back. When configured as a troop carrier though, it can fit 11 people total, including the driver and co-driver.

Via sandcat-stormer.com.

The SandCat’s protective features includes armor at STANAG II (mostly the cab) with a hull that could be hardened to STANAG III for extra blast resistance. Discussing its perceived invincibility should be avoided in favor of Plasan’s own product literature. The SandCat isn’t a complete war machine but a solution, so even if it can fight, its ideal role is moving men and women in, across, and through high risk areas.

But, in what amounts to a reminder of its civilian origins, the SandCat is available as a luxury SUV with a tough exterior and posh furniture inside. Most SandCat models are transportable by air, whether carried by helicopter or delivered in a C-130’s belly.

When it comes to actual combat, the SandCat is one of the more flexible vehicles in its class. Rather than a lone M2 Browing housed in a cupola on its turret, customers may specify different weapons. A remote controlled module is a common choice that brings together thermal optics and a large caliber firearm. But Israel and South Korea are believed to possess SandCat missile carriers for the Spike-LR.

With a reputation for appearing in arms show, during the recent ISDEF 2017 in Tel Aviv Plasan debuted the SandCat’s heftier sibling, the Stormer. With better armor and internal volume, the Stormer supports a remote turret combining a machine gun and tandem Spike missile launchers.

The SandCat is ideal for countries looking for an affordable armored vehicle in a domestic security role. It’s also a fine example of exploiting dual use technology. Rather than pay exorbitant development costs it’s better if a proven model is repurposed for a new mission. This makes it attractive not just for any armed forces, but police, government, and emergency services too. It marks a step above the current fetish for technicals, better known as pickup trucks pressed to war and mounted with large caliber weapons.

Plasan’s signature vehicle occupies a growing niche among international customers in 15 countries. These include Azerbaijan, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Colombia, Israel, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Nigeria, Poland, South Korea, Sweden, Ukraine. Its latest customers are unknown at the moment but its attractiveness and brand recognition gives it a lot of pull in both established and emerging markets.

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