As more and more is demanded of Special Forces across a widening spectrum of operations, tactical ground mobility continues to provide a critical capability for assault and reconnaissance forces as well as specialist counter-terrorism (CT) units.
The market, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa, continues to witness a convergence across this inventory of SOF vehicles with many manufacturers re-roling the same vehicle chassis for multiple operation types.
Furthermore, more traditional long range patrol/fire support vehicles including open top platforms for enhanced situation awareness, can also be used for CT and internal security operations, as was indicated to delegates at the UAE"s Armed Forces demonstration at the International Defence Exhibition and Conference (IDEX) in Abu Dhabi, UAE on 20th February 2017.
UAE-based OEM, Nimr Automotive used the IDEX event to launch the latest variant in its range of SOF vehicles, perfectly illustrating the current demands for multi-role and modular vehicle types. The company"s Rapid Intervention Vehicle, launched on 19th February 2017, joining its fleet of Ajban Long Range Special Operations Vehicles (LRSOVs) and Jais 4x4 and 6x6 MRAPs
Describing the extension of the company"s capability offering to the UAE and other armed forces in the region, Nimr"s CEO Dr Fahad Saif Harhara explained: "We have listened carefully to the special operations community and incorporated their combat experience into the design and development of this light and powerful 4x4 rapid intervention vehicle. The Nimr RIV is our most modern special forces platform available."
Capable of transporting a crew of four personnel, the RIV has been designed to provide enhanced mobility across arduous terrain including military operations in urban terrain, where assault teams require a speedy solution to insert into a threat area while providing organic fire support and C4ISTAR capabilities on the ground.
Sharing the same philosophy for multi-role vehicles is Jordan"s King Abdullah II Design and Development Bureau which continues to collaborate with the UK-based Jankel Group in the manufacturing of internal security, rapid reaction and long range patrol platforms for the international SOF community.
The joint venture has already supplied 108 Al Thalab or "Fox" Rapid Reaction Vehicles (RRVs) to the Belgian Special Forces Group (SFG) as well as an undisclosed number of platforms to the Jordanian Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC).
Based on a common chassis of the Toyota Land Cruiser family, the Al Thalab is capable of carrying a 1.4-ton payload and allowing special mission units to uparmour ballistic protection configurations for the execution of mission sets ranging from counter-terrorism operations in urban areas through to direct action, military assistance and surveillance/reconnaissance operations in suburban and rural areas.
Elsewhere, Nexter continues to promote its Aravis 4x4 armoured vehicle in Law Enforcement (LEF) configuration for the Middle East and international market with the latest customer comprising the Gabonese Armed Forces operating in the Central African Republic under the command of the UN"s MINUSCA mission.
Finally, SC Group used the IDEX event to promote its HMT 400 4x4 Desert Special Operations Vehicle (SOV) in the Middle East with a particular eye on emerging requirements in the UAE"s Presidential Guard.
According to SC Group officials, the HMT 400 Desert SOV has been "...adapted to enhance performance in the desert"s harsh environment and climatic conditions".
"The vehicle has been configured to fully comply with the UAE Presidential Guard"s requirements for a new special operations vehicle, including tactical CH-47 internal loading, and has undergone successful tactical trials and testing by UAE forces over the summer.
The Middle East market continues to focus heavily on emerging technology, especially relating to CT and internal security operations. However, as constraints associated with the economic environment continue to hamper governments, armed forces will be seeking multi-role vehicles capable of conducting mission sets ranging from rapid reaction through to long range patrol operations.