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I saw active service in conventional, clandestine and covert units of the South African Defence Force. I was the founder of the Private Military Company (PMC) Executive Outcomes in 1989 and its chairman until I left in 1997. Until its closure in 1998, EO operated primarily in Africa helping African governments that had been abandoned by the West and were facing threats from insurgencies, terrorism and organised crime. EO also operated in South America and the Far East. I believe that only Africans (Black and White) can truly solve Africa’s problems. I was appointed Chairman of STTEP International in 2009 and also lecture at military colleges and universities in Africa on defence, intelligence and security issues. Prior to the STTEP International appointment, I served as an independent politico-military advisor to several African governments. I am a contributor to The Counter Terrorist magazine. All comments in line with the topics on this blog are welcome. As I consider this to be a serious look at military and security matters, foul language and political or religious debates will not be entertained on this blog.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

BOOSTING THE PLATOON’S FIREPOWER WITH THE HUNTER MGP/MFT

Coming up against a well-entrenched or well-defended enemy position, and not always having air support available, the motorised infantry platoon can find itself in a difficult and vulnerable position. This position is made even more difficult if the enemy is operating out of a fortified village or old buildings and the infantry platoon has to attack without much cover.

Although the platoon does have its inherent machine guns down to section level, these weapons are often not able to engage the enemy at range or provide sustained fire support during an assault. Given the weight of both gun and ammunition, the machine gunner is also restricted in when and how he can use his machinegun.

In open terrain, the motorised infantryman is given some protection against enemy fire in the MRAP but the situation is compounded when he has to debus to assault an objective. However, with sparse cover, it is difficult at best to manoeuvre in the open whilst under fire.

This operational disadvantage can be overcome using a Mobile Gun Platform (MGP) or Mobile Fire Team (MFT) such as the OTT-designed and built “Hunter”, classified as a Light Strike Vehicle (LSV) by the manufacturer. (www.ott.co.za)

The Hunter is a true MGP/MFT, designed and built to operate over very rough and rugged terrain in dry, sparse areas.


Capable of delivering massive sustained firepower against enemy positions, the Hunter is perfectly suited to the conduct of numerous counter insurgency missions such as fire support, follow-up operations, suppressing fire during assaults, casualty extraction, reconnaissance, raids, ambushes, base protection, border patrols and so forth.

Its role during conventional operations as a raiding vehicle is equally formidable.

As a MGP/MFT the Hunter can, depending on the mission, be armed with:

1. A 20mm rapid-fire cannon or a 14,5mm HMG
2. 2 x 12,7mm HMGs
3. 2 x PKM machineguns

Any weapon system can be removed and replaced with alternate weapon systems such as the AGS-17 MGL. The vehicle can also be fitted with grenade launchers, giving it the ability to produce a smoke screen.

Although some doctrinal issues are still being worked on, there will be between 6 and 8 MGPs/MFTs attached to each motorised infantry company. This will, depending on the mission, allow the company commander to detach 2 MGPs/MFTs to each platoon and still maintain a reserve for deployment elsewhere.


The Hunter gives the company the following advantages:

1. Mobility across rugged terrain
2. Increased firepower
3. Flexibility
4. Rapid deployment
5. Manoeuvrability
6. Night fighting ability

With a maximum gradient of 60 degrees and a sustained road speed of between 70 and 80 km/h, the Hunter will be able to maintain its position in an MRAP deployment. It also has an off-road operating range of approx 500kms (with an additional 120 km with Jerry cans).

A command post vehicle is currently under development.

This MGP/MFT will be a very welcome addition to any offensive/defensive motorised infantry task.

34 comments:

Burro said...

I'm not sure I'm getting the concept right. It looks like something in between a armed Humvee and a M274 mechanical mule. No offense.

Best regards,

Choco

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

No offence taken, Choco.

Bear in mind that I view most things from an African warfare point-of-view. Additionally, we learnt a long time ago that we need to be as self-sufficient as possible and to design and manufacture equipment to suit our operational environments.

With respect to an armed Humvee, given the choice, I would certainly opt for Hunter for numerous reasons, not least being its off-road ability and the punch it can carry. Insofar as the M274 is concerned, the Hunter will certainly squash it before breakfast. There can be no comparison between the Hunter and M274.

Rgds,

Eeben

Sur og gretten. said...

It does remind me of a 30+year old design Volvo built.The Volvo one used the valp chassis I belive and was intended for recce work,I think it was limited to 5 people as well.

A modern one would definatly have its place,the B20 petrol engine and non syncho gearbox was good in its time but obsolete today.

waffe

Burro said...

Don't get me wrong. It looks a cool vehicle. It just seems to have less deal-breaker potential that other equipment you've brought to the blog.

Regarding the comparison with the mechanical mule, Its no-frills looks reminded to me an awful lot to some locally produced (Not the M274 itself) "mechanical mules", I found in the Spanish Army ages ago. Not bad vehicles. They're dead simple mechanically, which made them very reliable. Went on an on through tons of abuse with no significant maintenance, and were ridiculously cheap to produce.

In fact, it's refreshing to see that there is still places where it is possible to think in developing a new vehicle without at least four tonnes of armor, another tonne of electronics and cheaper that a quarter million bucks. As if, paraphrasing you, "You could fix a bad plan with armor"... A resistant, higly mobile, low profile, cheap (So it can be realistically deployed in enough numbers even in no-so-wealth countries), light, fire support vehicle will be very able to find its niche.

Having eight MGPs per company sounds even a bit spoiled. It can create logistics/maintenance problems to keep so many vehicles operational, especially for conscript armies. The idea of strong-pointing a fortified village just with MGPs, might be certainty better that with nothing at all, but it seems far from ideal to me though.

An aspect that is certainly different between European and African armies sticks out when you mention the command post vehicle. I can't even imagine a high ranking officer lurching in one of those!

Regards,

Choco

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I am not sure of the design idea, waffe but I do like this vehicle. Given that there are so many modified Toyota Landcruisers (Toyota wars) in Africa, this vehicle will make mincemeat of them. Not only that, it will outgun and out manoeuvre them.

It will, in many places in Africa, be ideal for recce work ahead of columns or convoys.

I wish that when I was still a soldier, we had a few of them.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Good points, but as I said to waffe, I wish we could have had some of these when we were still in the field, Choco.

The key to any good vehicle is simplicity, reliability and economy. The Hunter gives these. But, like with all systems, it needs to be correctly worked into the doctrine. Recent history has given us many examples of where such a system could have made a massive difference.

Whereas armour has its role, you are quite correct in saying that it cannot fix a bad plan. Obviously, a system such as this will not be used against armour but it can give added impetus to any assault or attack.

As for 8 MGPs per company, I personally would opt for that figure. I do realise the logistical burden that is placed on the company but to an efficient and well-trained LWT it should pose no problem. Having worked with conscripts both within and beyond South Africa, it all boils down to training – I don’t recall major problems with them – in fact, their very large contribution is often overlooked.

I suppose that any officer who feels himself too good or important to travel in one of these should never have made it to officer rank.

Rgds,

Eeben

Raven said...

Hi Eeben,
I love the idea, yet it does not look like it's armored...
As mentioned before I have got no experience in the field, but won't this thing be a bullet-magnet?
It's all fun & games behind the big-gun, till everybody with a kettie starts to look at you through their sights..?
Would a few plates of armor make it too heavy or am I misinterpreting the roll it is intended for?
None the less, I’d love to have one!!! (Purely for the coolness factor :D)
Regards
SvN

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Motorised infantry are not really armoured, Raven. Like any system, it will attract attention hence the requirement to firm-up doctrine and tactics. It is meant to give mobility, flexibility and firepower to the platoon and company. It will do exactly that.

I too wouldn’t mind one. Bad traffic – and of course numerous bad guys - spring to mind.

Rgds,

Eeben

John said...

Good Morning Eeben,

Very interesting post - back to the future as they say...

WWII era western and soviet armor, cavalry vehicles, jeeps etc were tough, easy to service and could run on anything (my first 4WD was a Wilys). Beat that against Nazi, Fascist or imperial Japanese vehicles (and early British armor) sitting broke-down and you have mobile firepower for those who really need it - built and designed by those in the know, always available.

Hope to dig up and or hear more.

Regards,
John

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I often wonder at how men are expected to maintain and repair complicated systems whilst under great physical and mental stress, John.

Mobility gives flexibility and the ability to manoeuvre – couple that to firepower and I believe that one can gain a significant advantage on the battlefield.

Rgds,

Eeben

borr1945 said...

When I first saw it. I was concerned about the lack of protection for the crew. After, reading the post and comments, I believe that the use of the vehicle has to come down to the tactics and doctrine in which it will be used. The humvee, I believe was a conventional war vehicle thrown into an unconventional war. Hence, the need to uparmour them and the development of new vehicles like the stryker armour vehicle. Wars in
Africa will generally be different
in size and scale then others (I hope). So the needs will be different in terms of vehicle size,
armour, and capablities. Overall, I hope the vehicle is throughly tested and approved before any
problems are found out on the battlefield and at the cost of soldiers lives.

regards,
ken

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I can understand your concerns re armour, Ken. But, the more we up-armour a vehicle the more we sacrifice speed, flexibility and the ability to rapidly manoeuvre in certain situations.

Any system needs to be carefully assessed in terms of doctrine and tactics. Current wars and conflicts in Africa are very different – look at the tendency to arm Landcruisers and use them as mobile fire bases. Landmines and IEDs will remain with us but again, we need to assess our doctrines and tactics.

This vehicle has been more than thoroughly tested and as I have mentioned before, I wish we had some at our disposal some years ago.

Rgds,

Eeben

Lukeisaduke said...

Hey Eeben,

It looks like some like of mobile jungle gym! Cool rig.

Luke

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

A very dangerous jungle gym in the right hands, Luke.

Rgds,

Eeben

Raven said...

Hi Eeben,
in short, how much worth is in mobile mortar weapons? As a direct & indirect fire weapon. And what cal would you opt for? high capasity 51mm/60mm or harder hitting 81mm/120mm?
Regards
Stefan

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

It really depends on several factors Stefan such as the type of operation, terrain, the target, etc.

Mobile indirect fire systems have always proven their worth and will continue to do so. Systems such as the Puma M26 have a 60mm mortar variant. You may recall the old-SADF developed the Ratel 81 which provided indirect fire support with 81mm mortars to mechanised infantry units such as 61 Mech. The Chinese PLL05 120mm mortar/howitzer is another development that shows how much value is placed in these systems especially when it comes to mobile/manoeuvre warfare.

The type of operation and factors such as range, fire tempo/rate of fire, target area and so forth, all play a role in determining the best weapon. With modern extended range 60mm mortars, one can bombard targets at a greater range than before. Mobile 60mm mortar carriers also carry a larger amount of bombs than they would 81mm mortars.

Given a choice, I would prefer to have 81mm mortars but the ultimate deciding factor is the ability of the team and the accuracy they achieve. I have seen 60mm mortar crews deliver devastating bombardment of targets and also seen 81mm crews fire rather poorly.

With the PLL05, one can obviously deliver direct fire but the mortar remains essentially an indirect weapon. The PLL05 however gives even more flexibility – so I wouldn’t mind having one of them either!

Rgds,

Eeben

Raven said...

Hi,
Do you think auto aiming and tgt tracking would solve poor aiming issues or would it be another lab-designed-toy waiting for a bad time to fail?

regards

SvN

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I believe those elements, although not in the sense I suspect you imply, already are in operation, Stefan. Guns on many armoured fighting vehicles are stabilised, laser rangefinders calculate distance, auto adjustments are made for wind, etc – all in the blink of an eye. This increases one-shot hit probability.

However, on vehicles such as the Hunter, these technological aids are not used for numerous reasons.

I recently read a piece about tests being done on automatic target detection and recognition. Also, on Matt’s blog (www.feraljundi.com) there is an article on RSS Staring Array Radar built by Reutech here in SA. If you scroll down on Matt’s blog, it is almost at the bottom of the page.

But, I know there are visitors here who are far more experienced in the use of technology on AFVs than I could ever be. Hopefully they will add some more info on this issue.

Rgds,

Eeben

Raven said...

Hi,
Thx for the link.
I'll chat to the guys at RRS, it's a sister co. I'm with Reutech-Fuchs. (BTW-Still teaching fencing once a week @ TUKS) Hence my interest in Mortar applications...
Regards
SvN

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Ah, that makes sense Stefan as they (Fuchs) used to (still do?) make the mortar fuzes.

Good to hear that you are still fencing. As you may know, after Chris won Bronze at the Commonwealth games a few years ago, she quit fencing – as did J. Keep up your good work on the piste.

I think a chat with the guys at RRS will be most interesting. If you have anything to report back that is not classified, please let us know.

Rgds,

Eeben

Bloke-o said...

Extremely interesting vehicle as the more rural war zones of the world are populated with civilian cars pressed into the same service (http://www.newsweek.com/2010/10/14/why-rebel-groups-love-the-toyota-hilux.html?GT1=43002 ), but unable to deliver stand-off fire power as the Hunter can.

One wonders if the cost of a Hunter is worth it, over a Toyota Hilux pick-up, fitted with a motar or RPG (becoming a Killux!). The Killux would have less firepower, but could be considerably faster, has a low profile, and has been operationally proved to be reliable (running on almost no maintenance).

In my un-esteemed estimation, both the Hunter and Killux beat the Humvee in terms of operational virtue.

John said...

Good Morning Eeben,

Has some thought been put into the drive to be able to use from 100% methanol/ethanol to kerosene? This would allow the user host to begin the process of weaning itself from oil and move to domestic fuel sources.

The vehicle looks like something we should be using here in the USA for border work. Will OTT be publishing specs like its other offerings as well?

Regards,
John

Sonny Cox said...

FYI
To members of KEEPING THE FIGHTING MEN AND WOMEN IN PRAYER

Tillee Roters October 27 at 9:26am Reply • Report
WARNING FOR OPERTORS IN IRAQ / AFGHANISTAN "SOLDIERS & PSD HUNTERS ON TOURE": Now I'm find out that local extremes search real professional for informations about you guys local in Iraq / Afghanistan in Facebook. The user of the profil shows photos of a training camp (wish is develop like a US camp) some wehre in the middle east, One of my friends who spekas and writing arab speaks to him, and suprise he real "like" us. Guys REALY check you privacy settings, remove action photos, remove location or company information. One of the guys we found on Facebook because he trys to become a memeber in a old group form us "Contractor in Iraq" on his side frame he say that in arab "نقسم بالله العظيم أن لا نستهدف ايا كان من العراقيين وهدفنا الوحيد المحتل الكافر لا غير = in English: Swear by Almighty God that do not target any of the Iraqis and our only infidel occupier is not. Guys becareful that is not a jock that is real.

SHARE THIS INFORMATION: We display updates about that in our Facebook group "European Private Security Contractors Association (EPSCA)" and on our website too www.epsca.eu

http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001673601331
Bravo Charlie

Alex said...

Hi Eeben,

I'll keep this short as I'm both constrained by time and know pretty much nothing about this type of technology. It does seem to offer many useful applications in the right types of tactical scenario though, but I'll leave it to more knowledgeable people to debate the fine points of this.

The thing I actually wanted to ask you was about 'African' warfare in general. Since you mentioned that you view most things from this point of view, what would you say are the defining features of Africa from a soldier's perspective, or a military angle in general? It's something I've never really thought about specifically and I find myself intrigued.

I guess this is a tad off topic but I'd be very interested to hear what you and anyone else with any input has to say on this. A nifty-looking piece of kit regardless. Should be interesting to see what kind of results it achieves when deployed.

Regards

Alex

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I would much prefer the Hunter to the Hilux, Bloke-o, especially when it comes to terrain negotiability and the firepower it can carry.

The drive-train of the Hunter has been very thoroughly tested in numerous different countries/terrain/vegetation and will outperform the Hilux by far. Whereas the Hilux may perform well in an urban environment, the Hunter will rule in the rural environment. Added to that, a low silhouette is not always a telling factor – especially in the African bush.

Cost is always a contentious issue. But, when lives are at stake I believe cost should not impede decision making.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I am not sure if alternate fuels have been looked at yet, John, but your comment holds a lot of value to companies such as OTT.

I know that some specs are published on their website (www.ott.co.za) and other spes are released to those who ask for them.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I too hope so, Private.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Thanks for that, Sonny.

Needlessly given an adversary information he can use against us is really stupid.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Africa as an operational area has numerous factors that determine the operational environment, Alex.

I believe the following are all important: Terrain, local population (language, tribes, customs, beliefs, traditions, etc), it is a low-tech environment, varied motivations of enemies, poor infrastructure, political instability, foreign-supported proxy forces, resources (tension inducing), type of equipment available to forces and the enemy, training, tactics, regional support, etc. All of these factors impact greatly on the Africa environment (I know they do on other AO’s but seem to often be neglected).

When I am stuck in traffic, I wish I had a Hunter...

Rgds,

Eeben

Gatvol said...

Forget all the Military use for this. I have always chuckled at the equipment developed in South Africa for use in the "Bush"
Always somewhat archaic when it comes to new technology, but you can run them off a clif and they will still function. Very rugged machinery and most all of us who do anything requiring 4x4 would be in heaven to own one for camping??? ha ha
The American military machine has always been bought and paid for by companies withn the states. However, they are buying some machinery from South Africa now. Its the same in the Helicopter world. Lots of snorting by Sikorsky Aircraft yet we are buying from whom?? Russia.........Mil-17s.
So Corporate America must not being bribing the right folks, someone with a little common sense is purchasing things that can be used rather than Maintenance Nightmares.
Keep up the good work South Africa.(know where I can find a good used SAMIL, a camper on that and I could camp anywhere I wanted)

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Our equipment was always archaic, Gatvol, as sanctions can be a very tough situation to be in when you are fighting a war. That said, it was tough and battle-proven and worked. Also, we could fix most things with some wire and a pliers – not requiring a PhD in mechanics to keep the wheels turning.

As far as camping goes, I suspect the Hunter will go where no others have dared. Let me know when you have got that Hunter-Camper.

I have noted that the US is opting for Russian helicopters – it does make one think, doesn’t it? I am sure the Russians are having a good laugh at this, especially considering the allegations that their equipment was always second-rate. We learnt a long time ago that Russian equipment is robust, simple to use and works. What more can a soldier ask for?

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

All is well thanks, Stefan. Just busy...as I think many are. But, time is sometimes an enemy one needs to overcome.

Rgds,

Eeben

H said...

Eeben

I hope you don't mind me calling you by your first name.

I have a question for you and all others that have experienced the bush warfare in Africa, it might be a little of topic but I would like to hear your opinion on this.

I have also served my time in the SADF for a couple of years and I feel honored for it being at Donkergat after being selected out of 1500 troops, I still have my t-shirt with the Compass Rose, my passbook and maroon beret and of course great memories of great men which have served their country with distinction.

In any case the question I would like to ask is as follows: Which side arm would you say is best suited for African Conditions? In other words which one performs like an AK, rough and tough with least amount of problems.

I know you have to maintain your sidearm but in battle there is not always time for that and seeing that you have experienced more conditions than me I would value your opinion.

Thank you for a great blog and service to your fellow soldier past and present, your kind are far and few.

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Never get rid of those mementos of yours, H. Well done for making it to be part of the chosen few.

As far as side arms go, I very seldom, if ever, carried one in the bush. I also don’t recall any other members of our teams frequently carrying them. But, if we had to, the Tokarev was a pistol of choice due to its hitting power and reliability – plus where we were, ammunition was easier to come by. The late Jim Savoury would sometimes carry his 357 Magnum – but he was the exception. However, also remember that our war was very rural and fighting where a pistol was required very seldom occurred, except on snatch operations.

Later on, I carried a Makarov, Browning HP or a CZ at times but that was a bit farther afield.

Thanks for your kind words re the blog.

Rgds,

Eeben