The Rooikat (Caracal) is a South African armoured reconnaissance vehicle equipped with a stabilised 76mm high velocity gun for organic anti-tank and fire support purposes. It is capable of giving the same performance and using the same ammunition as the Oto Melara 76 naval gun, albeit with new percussion primers. Production of this armored vehicle began in 1989, around 240 of these tank destroyers were built.These replaced the ageing Eland armored cars in service with the South African National Defense Force (SANDF). The Rooikat armored car was designed with an emphasis on mobility. Firepower was the second most important feature. Protection was the least important as additional armor would have come at the cost of mobility.
The main role for the Rooikat tank destroyer is combat reconnaissance. Its secondary role is combat support and anti-guerilla operations. The main goal was to develop a well armored wheeled vehicle, capable of operating far away from supply bases. Its armament should be capable of defeating tanks of all types, that were in service with neighboring countries. New SANDF doctrine placed an emphasis on the Rooikat’s primary role of reconnaissance, as well as the harassment of enemy rearguard units. In a marked departure from the manoeuvre-oriented anti-tank tactics of the South African Border War, Rooikat crews were also trained to engage tanks only from defile or otherwise static defensive positions.[
The Rooikat is fitted with a fully-stabilized GT4 76 mm main gun, which was developed from Italian OTO Melara naval gun. Despite its relatively small caliber at a range of 1 500 meters this high-velocity gun penetrates front armor of the tanks such as M48, T-54, T-55 and T-62, that were most widespread in that region. Front armor of the Rooikat provides protection against 23 mm armor-piercing rounds. All-round protection is against small-arms fire and artillery shell splinters. Hull floor has increased protection against mine blasts. The Rooikat tank destroyer is completed with an NBC protection system as standard. It is also is fitted with exhaust smoke generator and smoke grenade dischargers.
The southern African battle space favours a wheeled configuration, in which the Rooikat 8Ã—8 configuration excels. An eight-wheel run flat (designed to resist the effects of deflation when punctured) configuration offered more reliability and required less maintenance than a tracked vehicle. The Rooikat is powered by an unspecified V10 diesel engine, developing 563 horsepower. Engine is located at the rear. Its 8×8 configuration allows to maintain mobility after the loss of any wheel. This fire support vehicle is fitted with a central tyre inflation system. Vehicle is also equipped with run-flat inserts which allow mobility after the loss of pressure in all wheels. The Rooikat is equipped with a fully independent internally driven trailing arms, coil springs, and shock-absorbers.