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Armored Cars: Nimr JAIS

August 8, 2017

The JAIS is the most successful wheeled APC ever developed by a Gulf Arab state. It’s a kind of achievement resulting from savvy technology transfer rather than bleeding edge innovation. The JAIS is a multirole MRAP based on an earlier prototype developed by BAE Systems and Denel–from South Africa–called the RG35.

But the production license of the BAE-Denel project was acquired by the UAE’s burgeoning government investment arm in 2015 and given to Nimr, a subsidiary of the Emirates Defence Industries Company that’s partly owned by the powerful Tawazun Group.

The JAIS, which takes its name from an imposing mountain range, shouldn’t be mistaken as a variant of the eponymous Nimr tactical vehicle family. It’s a very different beast that’s supposed to replace, and perhaps overshadow, the conventional mine-resistant armored truck.

The JAIS spotted in Libya.

The JAIS, whose earlier incarnation was the South African RG35, began as a test bed for a bespoke multirole fighting vehicle in 4×4 and 6×6 configurations. Depending on the end users wishes, these can be assembled to any variant while sharing common parts and maintenance regimes. As many as 22 different “roles” were envisioned for the RG35, from ambulance, to command post, to trailer, and mobile anti-aircraft missile carrier.

But the idea didn’t take off in Africa. It did in the UAE, whose regional ambitions are driving the growth of its military-industrial base.

The JAIS in Yemen.

The JAIS is recognizable for its distinctive cab perched on a sloped grille housing a towing winch. The unspecified engine type is likely a turbo diesel model producing 450 horsepower. Nimr’s product literature reveals a top speed of 105 kilometers per hour with a range of 700 km, but it’s apparent the JAIS isn’t amphibious. At the very least it manages three feet of water. Its basic configuration offers space for two crew and five passengers. A single roof hatch may support a manned turret for a machine gun.

The ongoing conflict in Yemen was a crucible for the JAIS, where it proved impervious to most small arms fire. Nimr went as far as using a battered JAIS taken from Yemen as a static model during the IDEX 2017 arms show as a publicity stunt. It isn’t surprising the UAE government then ordered 1,500 JAIS trucks, together with 265 other Nimr vehicles, for an undisclosed amount. Deliveries are expected as soon as 2018.

Another recent sighting of the JAIS was in Libya’s ongoing civil war.

This 6×6 JAIS, which seats 14, is equipped with the Slovakian EVPU Turra remote turret that has a tandem mount for anti-armor missiles.

If armies still believe MRAPs are important, especially models that can take shit and dish it out at the same time, then the JAIS has solid prospects carving a niche in the market. The weapons it carries to battle are unheard of among armored trucks and its expeditionary tendencies are attractive for combat in the near and far abroad. Does this make it a certified winner?

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