AFRICANGLOBE – South African expeditionary and tactical equipment manufacturer Osprea Logistics has established a factory in the Kenyan coastal town of Mombasa to produce its Mamba Mk5 armoured personnel carriers.
Osprea Logistics co-director Roy Ndisi told Kenyan media on the side-lines of the official opening ceremony that bringing the second Mamba Mk5 factory to Africa will reduce the heavy procurement and maintenance costs incurred by regional militaries that already use the vehicle.
“The plant will reduce the cost of procurement and maintenance of the APCs in the (Africa) region. It will also provide internship for students in research and development. We intend to employ retired military personnel experienced in the fields of mechanical, engineering and fleet management,” Ndisi said. The company hopes that supply half the Mamba Mk5s currently being used by Amisom troops in Somalia.
Osprea Logistics co-director Christian Bock said the plant, which was approved by the Kenyan Investments Authority, was built at a cost of Sh3.5 billion (US$41.6 million) and will employ at least 200 Kenyans, most of them ex-military personnel. He said the company chose Kenya for its African base of operations because of its logistically advantageous location, availability of skilled manpower and strong culture of operating manufacturing industries. “Osprea plans its first-year production of Mamba MK5’s to be over 100 vehicles. This translates to work for over 200 people,” Bock said.
Over 200 South African-made Mamba APCs are already in use in Somalia. Powered by Iveco or 352N Mercedes Benz 6-cylinder engines, the Mamba is a sturdily designed vehicle which is suited for combat operations in desert and other remote locations. The vehicle can withstand small arms fire, landmine blasts and improvised explosive devices and has been widely used in Iraq.
It is built on a Unimog chassis suited to rough African terrain and can carry up to 10 passengers while cruising up to a maximum speed of 105 km/h. Developed by Land Systems OMC, the South African subsidiary of BAE Land Systems South Africa, the Mamba entered military service in 1995. Its improved MK2 and MK3 versions are widely used by the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) and other armies across the world.
The latest Mk5 version, developed by Osprea Logistics, uses a water-cooled 240 hp Iveco engine and comes with a vastly improved protection rating compared to its earlier models (it can withstand 14 kg mines or double TM-57 mines equivalent to 12 kg of TNT. The APC can also be adapted for use as an ambulance, operations command vehicle, a VIP transport or logistics vehicle. It can be armed with a machinegun, 20 mm cannon or an 82 mm mortar.
Osprea Logistics is a supplier of spares, contingency equipment, training and services and has done work for African and UN peacekeeping missions in Somalia, Liberia and Haiti.
By; Oscar Nkala