The new vehicles, which are being referred to as “product systems”, have been given the name ‘Badger’, following the precedent set by their predecessors, the Ratel family (ratel is Afrikaans for ‘honey badger’). There will be five variants of the Badger – the infantry section carrier (which is known as the Section Variant or SV), the fire support vehicle (also designated Section Variant), the mortar carrier (Mortar Variant), the tank destroyer (Missile Variant), and the command vehicle (Command Variant).
“The turrets, including weapons, which will account for about 50% of the total cost of the project, will be almost entirely South African designed and manufactured,” reports Denel Land Systems execu- tive manager: infantry systems Reenen Teubes. Turrets and their associated systems (weapons, sensors, sights) are just about the most sophisticated and complex systems found in modern armoured vehicles. “Denel Land Systems is the main contractor for the overall programme – the turrets are also the responsibility of our company.”
The section carrier will be equip-ped with a turret mounting a 30-mm cannon as its primary weapon; the fire support vehicle will have the same turret and cannon, but the platform will have a different internal layout. The mortar carrier will mount a 60-mm long-range mortar as its primary weapon, while the tank destroyer will have a turret mounting Denel Ingwe II antitank missiles. The command version, which is not meant to be directly involved in fire support during combat, will only have a 12,7-mm machine gun but will form the command and intelligence link. All these primary weapons, and all their ammunition, will be manufactured locally.
The product system simulators used for training will also be designed and manufactured in South Africa. “They will be provided by Through Tec, of Durban, who have previous involvement with similar programmes – they were responsible for the Rooikat simulator,” he states.
“The vehicle platform is the responsibility of Patria, but local manufacturing is subcontracted to BAE Systems Land Systems OMC,” points out Teubes. But it is not a matter of Benoni-based Land Systems OMC merely manufacturing the Finnish design. “The contract with Patria allows us, in the future, to adapt and upgrade the vehicle for our conditions, although we can’t export it. Land Mobility Technologies has used its local expertise to modify the platfrom to improve its mine protection – this modification has now be certified and will also be incorporated into vehicles built in Finland.”
Engines and gearboxes will be military-standard off-the-shelf items, bought from overseas original equipment manufacturers and supported by their local agents. Some smaller subsystems are still out to tender.
Production of the different variants will start in a staggered fashion. That is, production of the basic variant, on which all the others will be based, the section carrier, will start first; the command version, with its sophisticated command, control, communications and computer systems, will be the last version to enter production. “Initial production of the section carrier will start in three-and--a-half to four years from now, while the command variant will complete its development six years from now,” he reports. The programme is expected to run for 11 years, with support required for 30 years. The current plan is to manufacture a total of 246 Badgers of all variants.