The LM13 is the newest multirole 4×4 to come out of South Africa, whose wheeled armored vehicles are considered among the best in the world. The manufacturer LMT Products specializes in assembling bespoke vehicles for both private and institutional clients, e.g. armed forces and law enforcement. The LM13 is undoubtedly an attempt to entice customers who need an off-road transport that can withstand the rigors of combat.
Unraveling the history of the LM13 isn’t too difficult. It was debuted in 2013 and like many armored cars today, uses commercial parts that are available to vehicle manufacturers everywhere. But the LM13 shouldn’t be confused with an MRAP, although it’s designed to withstand explosions, and has more in common with trucks it resembles like the Nimr and the Vamtac.
The LM13 is recognizable for its bulging hood towering above a bumper that houses a towing winch. Wire mesh for deflecting grenade fragments and other debris covers each panel of its wind shields and individual windows, which have firing ports are installed beneath them. Aside from the driver and co-driver inside the cab, a half dozen seats are accessible via a pair of rear swing doors that support a spare tire. The roof has two rectangular hatches and a single circular turret mount for optional primary weapons.
The LM13 scores above average when it comes to mobility. It runs on a 400 horsepower Cummins turbo diesel engine giving it a top speed of 120 kilometers per hour and a maximum range beyond 500 km. The LM13’s noticeable low ground clearance comes from its Axeltech independent suspension. It can drive across deserts and savannah with ease but shouldn’t be considered an amphibious vehicle–its fording depth is just 3.3 feet over rivers and streams. Weighing 13 tons, the LM13 is light enough for an airlift on a C-130 or similar aircraft.
When it comes to protection, the LM13 enjoys B7 or STANAG III ballistic armoring and can resist gunfire from automatic rifles, machine guns, and even armor piercing rounds. Of course, an LM13 shouldn’t be expected to absorb direct hits from anti-armor rockets and missiles. But for the dangerous business of convoy protection, long-range patrol, and recce that preoccupies modern armies, the LM13 is tough enough for the job. When damaged, the LM13 has a built-in fire suppression system for its engine compartment and runflat tires allow it to keep moving.
If equipped with a turret, this weapon station can be operated by remote control. Armaments depend on the customer and these range from a light machine gun to a grenade launcher. A small batch of LM13’s were ordered by an unnamed Middle Eastern country in 2016. LMT Products unveiled a new mine resistant armored truck that same year called the LM14 to compete with other models in the same niche as a transport and an ambulance. The company has since teased another variant based on the LM13 called the LM16. It carries eight troops and is armed with what appears to be a 20mm cannon.
Judging by what’s known about the LM13 so far it looks like a tough contender in the crowded tactical vehicle market. Given LMT Products’ reputation as a seasoned defense contractor, a little ingenuity could transform the LM13 into a real fighting vehicle on par with the best from the rest. Anti-tank missile cells, anyone? How about MANPADS?