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Armored Cars: Denel RG32M LTV

March 16, 2018

Via Wikimedia Commons.

The glow of international success has done little to boost the RG32M’s reputation. A proven fighting machine that has driven over cold and hot environments across three continents, the current state of the world’s armored car market is doing this admirable 4×4 a huge disfavor. Its best attributes, being reliability and the ample room it provides for countermeasures and weapons, are smothered by an overcrowded playing field.

The RG32M LTV shouldn’t be confused with its older sibling the RG31 that’s also known as the Mamba. Developed at the turn of the century, BAE Systems marketed its RG32M in the early aughties as a “mine hardened patrol vehicle” and multimillion dollar orders soon followed. It was perfect timing as the bitter adventures involving the US military and its allies in Afghanistan and Iraq left the reputation of older workhorses such as the Humvee and the Land Rover in tatters.

BAE Systems later tried pushing for more international sales with the RG32M Outrider–same but with a little extra space–yet it only achieved modest sales in Europe. The ensuing years have been unkind to the RG32M, however, as large contracts have eluded it. So what’s now called the RG32M LTV languishes as part of Denel’s vehicular catalog after the South African defense contractor bought BAE Systems Land Systems in 2015.

The RG32M is recognizable for its broad windshield that has three wipers arrayed at the bottom of the frame. Its grille and hood are similar to the RG31 MRAP although the cab is much smaller and is accessible via four reinforced swing doors that may or may not have firing ports installed.

South African Denel RG32M LTV in snow

Via Denel Vehicle Systems.

There’s usually a large bumper attached to the grille for carrying an electric towing winch. The vehicle’s exhaust is positioned on the left of the cab to allow it a modicum of fording depth. A cargo pod is mounted on the rear end of the chassis. There are side steps underneath the cabin for passengers to climb aboard since the RG32M’s v-hull gives it a high ground clearance.

The 9.5 ton RG32M is a decent enough contender versus its competition in Western Europe and elsewhere. It’s compatible with myriad parts, be they NATO spec or not, and fits inside a cargo plane for air transport. Like most trucks in the same niche, its locally assembled steel body utilizes imported parts, such as a 270 horsepower Steyr turbo diesel engine giving it a top speed of 110 kilometers per hour and its five-speed automatic Allison transmission system. The RG32M isn’t suited for intense combat–a task better left to its heavier counterparts–and it offers a meager STANAG I protection level for its occupants, who number just four people.

Denel assures its clients the RG32M is a bespoke platform open to all sorts of gadgetry. These span air conditioning for hot climates, central tire inflation, air filters for CBRNe risks, C4i interfaces, a customizable cargo pod and weapon station. Exactly how many variants of the RG32M LTV are available is unclear but manufacturers do have a tendency to hype tactical vehicles as universal platforms that can be tailored for whatever role.

Only a few hundred RG32M LTV’s and its predecessors can be found in different armies. The current roster includes Egypt, Finland, Ireland, Namibia, South Africa, and Sweden. The advent of the Oshkosh JLTV bodes ill for the RG32M’s future prospects. But a silver lining could be the US’ strict export controls that favors traditional allies, therefore leaving dozens of countries with requirements for versatile 4×4 trucks open to what Denel has to offer.

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