The South African defense company OTT Group has completed the first example of the Ratel 6×6 Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) Service Life Extension Programme (SLEP). The Ratel 6×6 IFV SLEP project was born from necessity, as challenges at Denel and ongoing financial pressures experienced by the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) mean that South Africa can no longer expect Project Hoefyster to materialize, at least anytime soon. The delays with Hoefyster potentially leaves a gap in the operational readiness of the SANDF’s two remaining mechanised battalions, tasked with maintaining South Africa’s conventional capabilities.
The OTT Group of companies therefore took the initiative to develop the Ratel Service Life Extension Plan, which is internally funded, and engineered by OTT Group member ADGM. An absolute bare minimum’s requirement, and maximum value for money approach was followed to address the obsolesce and supply chain factors – but still enable a large leap in modernizing the current firepower delivery shortfall. Obviously, the SLEP programme is not a first-choice approach to modernisation of SANDF capabilities, but a solid grip on South Africa’s current reality and quite possibly the only viable solution left for maintaining any form of combat readiness
Primary focus was on the engine and transmission, which shifts to a commercial off the shelf 360 hp engine coupled to a six-speed automatic gearbox. A new single speed transfer case completes the driveline upgrades, which are protected by a new cooling system. For a higher level of crew survivability and ballistic protection, the IFV has been fitted with an applique passive armour package to the hull and turret. The original Ratel only had day sights for the commander and gunner but the upgraded IFV features a roof-mounted stabilised day/night sight for the commander. This enables the two-man (gunner/commander) crew to have the capability to engage targets.
The Ratel is a South African infantry fighting vehicle. It was the first wheeled infantry fighting vehicle to enter service worldwide and was built on a modified MAN truck chassis. The Ratel was designed in response to a South African Army specification for a light armoured vehicle suited to the demands of rapid offensives, providing maximum firepower and strategic mobility to mechanised infantry units intended to operate across the vast distances of Southern Africa. Primarily envisaged in SADF doctrine as a vehicle for that could deliver mechanised infantry and supporting fire to tanks in conventional warfare.