DCD Protected Mobility held a route clearance demonstration day at Gerotek outside Pretoria, where it put its Husky and Springbuck vehicles through their paces against simulated landmines and improvised explosive devices (IEDs).
At a base camp, DCD on 13 August set up a headquarters equipped with the Chaka command and control system and second line workshop. A route clearance convoy approached the simulated red zone, with a Husky detecting mines and IED threats. Another Husky fitted with an interrogation arm probed and dug the ground to find the mine. Next, a human operator (sapper) was sent in and laid an explosive charge that detonated the mine.
The demonstration continued with a Springbuck detonating a simulated IED, at which point the convoy came under attack from enemy forces, who were ultimately repelled. Handheld mine detection equipment was used to clear the area.
The final element of the demonstration saw DCD demonstrate how quickly its Husky route clearance vehicle can be repaired in the field, with the front wheel and axle assembly being changed in approximately 40 minutes. The Husky is designed as a modular vehicle, with parts damaged in landmine or IED blasts able to be quickly switched out.
The Husky vehicle can be disassembled and packed into a standard six metre (20 foot) ISO shipping container. DCD also makes a Blue Pack mobile workshop for second line level of repairs and a Red Pack for first line level repairs.
DCD's route clearance concept was developed by the allied forces in Iraq and Afghanistan and is being introduced by other nations using Husky vehicles. The company said it believes this concept should also be considered by African Union and United Nations peace support missions. A typical route clearance package comprises a sapper platoon with two Husky vehicles, an explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) team in an EOD vehicle, a medical detachment, infantry support sections in armoured personnel carriers, logistics vehicles and a recovery vehicle.
DCD last year held a similar demonstration at Paardefontein, where it subjected Husky and Springbuck vehicles to genuine mine blasts - the Husky was able to drive away immediately, whilst the Springbuck was repaired in under one hour. A Springbuck SD with steel wheels was also used to detonate anti-personnel landmines. Such demonstrations have paid off, with a contract from an African client resulting from the 2018 demonstration.
The Husky is DCD's flagship route clearance vehicle, and is able to detect mines at 5km/h-35km/h. It uses metal detectors for metallic mines and ground-penetrating radar for non-metal mines, but can be fitted with various sensors and interrogation arms. The Husky comes in several variants, including the single seat Husky Mk III, second generation two seat Husky 2G and optionally unmanned Autonomous Husky. The vehicle can be fitted with a wide variety of sensors and optional extras.
In addition to the Husky, DCD Protected Mobility produces its Springbuck family of armoured personnel carriers. The Springbuck range includes the standard (SD), heavy duty (HD) and extra duty (XD) versions. Payload varies between 1 500kg and 2 500kg for the different variants.
DCD has sold 1 500 vehicles to over a dozen countries, with the biggest customer being the United States army. DCD's vehicles have survived 7 500 landmine and IED hits with no fatalities. This includes a Husky surviving a 100 kg blast in Turkey. Some Husky drivers have been exposed to ten landmine or IED incidents and these drivers are still operating with their various militaries and are certified medically fit. Husky vehicles are in operation on five continents with 14 countries and recent operations in Syria have used Husky vehicles.
DCD said that its Springbuck vehicles have survived IED hits whilst in service in Africa, with three vehicles recently being damaged in explosions along the border with Somalia - two vehicles were quickly repaired and put back into service and a third is in the process of being repaired.
DCD was not at liberty to say which country's vehicles were hit by IEDs, but defenceWeb understands that Kenya is the operator of the vehicles, with the type being seen in the country. Kenya is rumoured to be acquiring more Springbucks - DCD said it is negotiating with a country in West Africa for additional vehicles.
DCD has just delivered ten Springbucks to Somalia, where they will be used by the African Union/AU mission (AMISOM) there. The vehicles arrived in Mogadishu on 8 August and are being used by a troop-contributing country.
DCD's Gerrit Pretorius told defenceWeb that the company has well proven products and is one of the biggest suppliers to the United States. "We look forward to becoming the biggest African vehicle supplier," he said. In Africa, DCD vehicles are used by the armed forces of Egypt, Kenya, Burundi, South Sudan, Nigeria, Ghana and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Overall, DCD is represented in 21 countries around the world, including South Africa, France, Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, Turkey, Spain, Iraq and Tanzania.
At the route clearance demonstration day, DCD's partners were also in attendance, including Prestolite (alternators), Walog (technical manuals), Global Command and Control Technologies (Chaka, Impi, Battletek command and control, blue force tracking and simulation systems), Kone Cranes (DCD is a distributor of its military crane line), GAC Laser Specialised Logistics (which focusses on defence-related logistics), Bullet Proofing Technology (BPT), AA Containers (field workshops) and Global Wheel (runflat inserts).
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Written by Guy Martin.