The South African Ratel Infantry Fighting Vehicle Development History
South Africa had learnt that wheeled AFV’s were not susceptible to the sandy desert conditions of its own backyard, like tracked vehicles were. It meant that the wheeled vehicles were more mobile and more ideally suited for dashing across the boarder to make strikes against its neighbouring enemies. It also meant the vehicles could drive to their target areas, rather than being delivered by transporters or railway like tracked vehicles are.
Land mines were a great concern to the S.A.A., and it was found to be quicker and easier to replace a damaged wheel than it was to replace damaged track’s.
South Africa had been fighting in the Angolan Bush War AKA the South African Border War, from the mid 1960’s to the late 1980’s. It saw the apposing belligerents backed up by the Former USSR and Cuba.
The war saw the banning of exporting of military supplies (including AFV’s) to South Africa under “United Nations Security Council Resolution 418”.
This set a requirement for the indigenous development of wheeled modern and effective Armoured Fighting Vehicles, which lead to the development and production of such vehicles as the Casspir, Rooikat, and G6 Rhino 155mm SPG during the 1970s and 80’s.
This was the first and base vehicle of the family. Development started in 1971 and production ran from 1976. The driver site up in the front of the vehicle behind three bullet proof windows, providing a 180 degree vision. These also have hinged armoured shutters that can be erected.
Behind the driver is a two man turret that has a manual traverse. Its equipped with a 20mm auto cannon and 7.62mm coaxial MG, with a further roof mounted 7.62mm MG for AA role. Commander sits on the left and Gunner on the right in the turret.
Behind the turret is the central infantry section, which 7 troops sit centrally facing outwards with their own firing port for their personnel weapons. They also have vision blocks, roof hatches and exit the vehicle through a door on either side of the vehicle.
The engine compartment is located in the rear on the left and on the right a further 7.62mm MG for the AA role can be mounted. The engine is a Bussing D3256 BTXF 282hp turbocharged diesel. It has a top road speed of 105km/h and range of 860km. Constructed of a all steel, it has a combat weight of 18.5tons and offers a maximum of 20mm in thickness for protection.
The South African Ratel Infantry Fighting Vehicle Variants
Has a 11 man crew. It also has the same setup of 7.62mm MG’s as the Ratel 20. It has a two man turret with a 60mm breech-loading mortar.
This is a fire support vehicle with a different turret housing a 90mm main gun. It also has the same setup of 7.62mm MG’s as the Ratel 20.
Ratel 12.7 AKA Ratel Command
Command vehicle with a two man turret mounting a 12.7mm (.50cal). Has a 9 man crew. It also has the same setup of 7.62mm MG’s as the Ratel 20, minus the coaxial.
Has the usual equipment associated with repairs in the field.
Turret less vehicle with a 81mm mortar fixed on a turntable for firing from within the vehicle through the open roof hatches.
Used for artillery observation with a central mast fitted with sensors.
Turret mounted with a launcher containing 3 tubes, firing Swift laser guided ATM’s.
The first prototype of the Ratel 20 was completed in 1974 and entered production in 1979. Through various merges with other companies like Vickers, it was manufactured by these companies until 1987 in three Mk’s. It served through out the various border clashes with the South African Forces.
The South African Ratel Infantry Fighting Vehicle Operators
The United Nations conventional arms register reflects that 423 Ratel armoured combat vehicles were exported from South Africa between 2003 and 2012.
Ghana – 39
Jordan – 321 Ratel 20 IFV imported. The Paramount Group, in cooperation with the King Abdullah II Design and Development Bureau (KADDB), produce a converted version of the Ratel infantry vehicle, which they refer to as Rakel Mk III
Libya – In 2013 Ratel IFV’s were photographed in the country. This has raised questions over possible illegal sales of military equipment and breaches of so-called end-user certificates.
Morocco – 60 Ratel 20 & Ratel 90
Rwanda – 35
Senegal – 14
South Africa – 1200 Ratel 60 Ratel 20 & Ratel 90 (Will be replaced by licence built Badger, which is the Finnish AMV 8×8).
Yemen – Ratels have been photographed in Sanaa, Yemen since 2011. They appear to be the converted version of the Ratel IFV produced by the Paramount Group and KADDB in Jordan and appear to be a breach of the end-user certificate.
Zambia – 14