South Africa is one of the top nations in terms of its production and supply of armoured vehicles to the rest of the world.
Armour forces are created and organised to carry out mobile operations and this should be seen as the most important means in the conduct of conventional land battles. Armour forces, both tank and armoured car units, usually form part of an organised force in co-operation with other teeth arms and support weapons.
With its mobility, armour protection, flexibility and firepower, the Armoured Fighting Vehicle is a weapon with which the experienced commander can influence the battle in his/her favour. On its product list, Denel Land Systems proudly boast of the Rooikat 76 millimetre and the Light Medium Turret 105 millimetre.
Rooikat – 76
The Rooikat Armoured Car has a 76 mm gun with a first line of 48 rounds of ammunition. The crew consists of four members. The Rooikat can fire on the move; however firing on the short halt is often preferred.
LMT – 105
The Light Medium Turret 105 millimetre gun is basically an upgrade on the 76 millimetre gun of the Rooikat Armoured Car. Its characteristic features remain unchanged.
The Rooikat is a South African armoured reconnaissance vehicle equipped with a stabilised 76 mm high velocity gun for organic anti-tank and fire support purposes. The Rooikat can also fire the same ammunition as the naval gun, albeit modified with new percussion primers in the shells.
Upon its inception in 1994 the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) immediately retired the surviving Eland-90 fleet. The SANDF subsequently issued a requirement for another 66 Rooikats from Sandock-Austral, which had been absorbed by Land Systems OMC. New SANDF doctrine placed an emphasis on the Rooikat’s primary role of reconnaissance, as well as the harassment of enemy rearguard units. Rooikat crews were also trained to engage tanks only from defilade or otherwise static defensive positions.
The South African Army deployed the Rooikat for internal patrols. During the Southern African Development Community intervention in Lesotho, Rooikats of the 1 Special Service Battalion were called up to reinforce South African mechanised units then skirmishing with Lesotho Army mutineers. The armoured cars arrived in Maseru, the capital of Lesotho, on 22 September 1998 and participated in various security operations.
The Rooikat 105 is designed for high mobility day and night combat operations. Passive image intensifiers and thermal imaging equipment for night driving, navigation and weapon deployment permit round-the-clock combat operations.
There are two 7.62mm machine guns, one co-axial to the main armament and one at the commander’s position, for general purpose ground and air defence. The vehicle is equipped with two banks of 81mm smoke grenade launchers, mounted in a forward firing position on each side of the turret.
Automatic data input includes target range from a laser rangefinder, target speed and direction derived from tracking the target, crosswind speed, weapon tilt and the characteristics of the weapon. Rooikat 105 armoured fighting vehicle
The Rooikat 76 armoured fighting vehicle, with a 76mm gun, was developed by Reemit for the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) and has been in operational use with the SANDF since 1980. 240 vehicles were built and about 30 vehicles are in service with the SANDF. In 1990 an upgrade and redesign programme was started by Reumech OMC to customise the Rooikat for the international market, and by 1994 the development of the Rooikat 105 variant with a 105mm rifled gun was completed.
Reumech later became Vickers OMC and in September 2002 was renamed Alvis OMC, following the acquisition of Vickers Defence by Alvis. Alvis OMC is now part of BAE Systems Land Systems.
Rooikat 105 armoured fighting vehicle mission roles
The Rooikat 105 is designed for high mobility day and night combat operations. Passive image intensifiers and thermal imaging equipment for night driving, navigation and weapon deployment permit round-the-clock combat operations. The vehicle has a combat mass of 28t.
The main role of the Rooikat 105 is combat reconnaissance with seek and destroy missions. The Rooikat has the fire power and survivability to engage in battle against selected targets. The secondary role of the Rooikat 105 is in combat support operations. In anti-armour operations the Rooikat performs a valuable role in protection against enemy armoured threats.
The Rooikat carries a crew of four: commander, gunner, ammunition loader and driver.
Rooikat 105 armament
Three variations of fire directing systems are offered. The most complex system incorporates a primary stabilised gunner’s sight, automatic computation and implementation of ballistic offset of the weapon, electro-mechanical gun control, stabilised main weapon, gunner’s sight with day / night channel slaved to the main weapon and an independent panoramic commander’s sight.
The Rooikat 105 is designed for high-mobility combat operations. It can travel 1,000km under its own power and be battle-ready within 24 hours of departure from the home base. The maximum road speed is 120km/h and the average cross country speed is 50km/h. The Rooikat accelerates from 0km/h to 30km/h in less than eight seconds.
The suspension system on the Rooikat includes internally driven trailing arms, coil springs and shock absorbers.
Configuration 8 x 8
Combat weight 28 500 kg
Power-to-weight ratio 20 hp/t
Length 8,80 m (with 105 mm gun)
Width 2,9 m
Height 2,8 m
Ground clearance 0,43 m
Track width 2,415 m
Angle of approach / departure 45º / 60º
Max road speed 120 km/h
Cross country speed 60 km/h
Acceleration 0 to 30 km/h in 9 seconds
Fuel capacity 540 litres
Max road range 1 000 km
Fording depth 1,5 m
Gradient 70% (forward and reverse)
Side slope 30%
Vertical obstacle 1 m (soil); 0,6 m (concrete)
Trench crossing 2 m (crawl speed)
1 m (60 km/h)
Engine V-10 water cooled turbocharged diesel developing 417 kW
Transmission Automatic; 6 forward and 1 reverse gears
Steering Power assisted, front four wheels
Turning radius 25 m curb to curb (tarred surface)
15 m (tactical, using brake steering)
Suspension Internally driven trailing arms, coil springs and shock-absorbers
Tyres 16,00 x R20 radial with run-flat inserts
Brakes Dual-circuit drums on all eight wheels, retarder on transmission, exhaust brake,
crawl brake, park brake
Electrical system 24 V (6 batteries in 2 banks)
Armament 105 mm GT7 high-pressure, low recoil main rifled gun
7,62 coaxial machine gun
Smoke-laying equipment 8 x 81 mm smoke grenade launchers, exhaust smoke screen generator
Ammunition (main 32) (16 rounds in turret). Standard NATO (105 x 617 mm) high pressure
ammunition (APFSDS, HESH, CANISTER, APDS, HEAT and HE)
2 800 (7,62 mm MG)
8 smoke grenades
Protection Armour protection against 23 mm ammunition over 60º frontal arc,
remainder against 7,62 mm ammunition
Fire control Full solution integrated digital DLS Lyttelton proprietary system operated by
commander or gunner affording fire on the move and hunter-killer capability
GUN CONTROL +28 V DC brushless motor system with inertially stablised digital control and
Gun elevation/depression +20º / -10º
Gunner Primary stabilised periscope sight with laser range finder intergraded into day
channel plus thermal imager
Telescopic articulated auxiliary sight back-up
Commander Primary stabilised periscope panoramic sight with night vision (optional)
Display of gunner’s thermal
Observation cupola with 360º
Loader Direct vision observation
NBC System Optional
Further reading: Rooikat