Armor: RG-31M Proves Itself in Afghanistan


April 19, 2007: Last year, Canada bought 75 RG31 (Nyala) armored vehicles for its 2,300 troops in Afghanistan. The Canadian version, the RG-31M, had special equipment installed, including jammers (to prevent roadside bombs from being detonated via a wireless device) and a remotely (from inside the vehicle) operated 12.7mm machine-gun. There were problems with the installation of the machine-gun system, including some software glitches. In addition, when the jammer was turned on, most of the RG-31s found that their alternators quickly burned out. These problems were eventually eliminated. Otherwise, the RG-31s have given good service. Three have encountered Taliban bombs, leaving a total of eight passengers injured, and one dead. One Nyala, after getting hit by a powerful roadside bomb, was able to get home under its own power, with a crew that was shaken, but not injured.

The Nyala is a South African vehicles, costing about up to million each (depending on accessories), that was designed to resist landmines and roadside bombs. It was developed from the earlier Mamba armored personnel carrier, and has an excellent track record. The wheeled (4x4) vehicle weighs eight tons and can carry up to eleven people. The model Canada is getting (RG-31M), usually operates with a crew of five, plus a cargo area in the back. Before Canada, the UN and the United States were the major users of the vehicle. Although armed only with a .50 caliber machine-gun, the Nyala earns its way by being the first one down roads where mines or roadside bombs may be encountered. The Nyala is becoming popular with NGOs operating in dangerous areas, as it does not look particularly military (especially if the machine-gun is removed), even though it is definitely a combat ready vehicle. In Afghanistan, Canadian troops have encountered increased Taliban use of roadside bombs, and suicide car bombers.  




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