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Armored Cars: MIC-AVF Al Dahna

April 11, 2020

Via Armored Vehicles and Heavy Equipment Factory.

The 2010s witnessed a surge in domestic armored vehicle production across the Middle East. Nearly all of the resulting models are based on a 4×4 chassis and strong demand fueled by ongoing wars led to success stories such as the UAE’s Nimr Ajban, with several thousand already sold. Ever since Saudi Arabia reorganized its state-owned military industries there has been a serious push to supply the country’s armed forces with comparable vehicles that combine protection and versatility. There has been some progress with up-armored Toyota pickup trucks but one intriguing project by the Military Industrial Corporation’s (MIC) Armored Vehicles and Heavy Equipment Factory is the Al Dahna whose name is borrowed from a region of the vast Arabian Desert.

Little is known about the Al Dahna, whose alternate designation is “High Mobility Tactical Vehicle,” beyond the sparse details published by its manufacturer. It made its first public appearance at a Saudi industry fair in 2018 and has since been put on display at regional arms shows to promote the MIC’s growing catalog. Weighing nine tons, or as heavy as other protected trucks found elsewhere, the Al Dahna features a fully enclosed monocoque hull with bulletproof windows. Its protection level ranks at STANAG I or resistant versus intermediate ammunition although this can be raised to STANAG II should the end user require it. Other upgrades are promised by the manufacturer to mitigate the damage caused by grenade blasts and other small explosions.

The Al Dahna’s power plant and mobility characteristics remain undisclosed but according to the AVF it runs on a 214 horsepower engine. An open secret of armored trucks is their reliance on US-made Cummins diesel engines and this might be the case with the Al Dahna. Saudi Arabia’s unique relationship with the American military-industrial sector can’t be overstated and its possible American companies helped with the Al-Dahna’s development. The Al Dahna’s peers in the Middle East, such as the Emirati Nimr Ajban or the Egyptian Temsah 3 or the Jordanian Al-Wahsh or the Turkish Cobra I/II, are built on foreign supplied essential parts. The battle tested Al-Wahsh, for example, uses a Tatra chassis from the Czech Republic. The Ajban, on the other hand, is based on a vehicle originating from GAZ, the Russian truck manufacturer.

As for its combat optimization the Al Dahna has a rooftop turret for a single machine gun, likely an M2 Browning, but in recent years Saudi Arabia’s armed forces have taken a liking for the Russian KORD heavy machine gun. The size of the kingdom’s military and its equipment needs may suggest a captive market for the Al Dahna in the future. Especially since the national guard, rather than the army, is reliant on thousands of wheeled APCs. Yet the existence of multiple protected trucks in Saudi use, whether it’s the Oshkosh M-ATV or South African MRAPs, doesn’t bode well for the Al-Dahna. Among domestic options the Al Dahna isn’t alone in its vehicular class, either, since at least two other Saudi factories have rolled out their own takes on protected 4×4’s. Even browsing the AVF’s selection of armored transports reveals the Al Dahna to be a middleweight between a 15 ton MRAP called the Tuwaiq 2 (licensed from France) and the smaller Al-Shibl armored pickup truck.

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