Armor: Made In Arabia For Arabs

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December 20, 2016: In late 2016 a UAE (United Arab Emirates) firm (NIMR Automotive) introduced the N35. An MRAP (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected) vehicle that comes in a 4x4 and 6x6 versions. The 4x4 model is an 18 ton vehicle with a payload of four tons and is normally configured to carry a crew of two and seven passengers. There is a turret that can be armed with a manned heavy machine-gun or a RWS (Remote Weapons Station). The 6x6 model weighs 24 tons can carry a payload of seven tons and is normally configured to carry a crew of two and ten passengers. For both models top speed is 105 kilometers an hour on roads and there is on board fuel to take it at least 700 kilometers on roads.

This is not the first MRAP vehicle for NIMR. In late 2015 25 of its Enigma 8x8 MRAP vehicles accompanied UAE troops heading for Yemen. Enigma is a 28 ton combat vehicle based on widely used South African RG35 18 ton MRAP that entered service in 2009 and built and equipped with help from Russian firms. The N35 is smaller, less heavily armed, cheaper and more suited to peacekeeping and police work. .

Earlier in 2016 MIMR introduced an armored version of its popular NIMR military truck configured as the Ajban SOV (Special Operations Vehicle). This is an open top vehicle meant for reconnaissance, border patrol or any mission that requires the mobility of a 4x4 military vehicle plus some armor protection. Ajban SOV is a 7.5 ton vehicle with a 2.5 ton payload. That can vary depending on the degree of armor protection carried. Ajban is based on the older (introduced in 2005) NIMR military truck. This is a 4x4 vehicle similar to the American hummer and designed to cope with the high heat and abundant sand and dust found in the Middle East. The basic NIMR weighs 4.4 tons, can carry 1.5 tons (or up to eight people), and be equipped with a remote control 12.7mm machine-gun turret. Top speed is 140 kilometers an hour on roads. This version costs about $82,000 each. There is a larger 6x6 version for carrying cargo. There is also an anti-aircraft version armed with four Mistral missiles ready-to-fire and four more as reloads. An anti-tank version comes equipped with four Milan ATGM (anti-tank guided missiles) ready to fire and four more as reloads. All NIMRs are equipped to take a variety of armor kits (providing different degrees of protection against bullets and explosions). Ajban SOV also can mount a machine-gun and comes in configurations for carrying cargo.

NIMR development began in the late 1990s and production began in 2005. NIMR was designed with the help of Russian automotive company GAZ, which also helped set up the manufacturing operation and supplies some of the components. The UAE has so far ordered over 2,000 NIMR vehicles for its armed forces. The new Libyan armed forces, as well as Lebanon, Tunisia, and Algeria, have ordered or are evaluating NIMR vehicles. NIMR and Ajban SOV are produced in an assembly plant in Jordan. Currently production of NIMR vehicles is nearly 3,000 a year. In early 2015 NIMR vehicles got their first sustained combat experience when the UAE sent troops into combat for the first time since 1991. Their equipment included over 1,500 NIMR trucks.

NIMR and several other manufacturing operations are part of an effort by oil-rich Arab countries to develop their economies and not just be dependent on exporting oil and gas. This is difficult because most Arab countries, especially the oil-rich Gulf states, don’t have much industrial infrastructure or a population with the motivation or skills to create one. There are less expensive and more capable military vehicles available but the NIMR designs are good enough and they sell mainly to Arab states that prefer to buy local.

 


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