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What's the African Mbombe 6x6 Vehicle and How its Copy Found its Way to Ukraine

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The newest armored vehicle for the Ukrainian Defense Forces, visually similar to the Mbombe 6x6, April 2024 / Still frame credit: General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine
The newest armored vehicle for the Ukrainian Defense Forces, visually similar to the Mbombe 6x6, April 2024 / Still frame credit: General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine

Features of potentially Ukraine's new armored vehicle of South African development

Walking next to the newest armored vehicles presented by Ukrainian manufacturers, the Ukrainian Armed Forces chief commander Oleksandr Syrskyi observes a wheeled unit with a weapon station mounted on top.

Visually similar to the Mbombe 6x6 from the South African Paramount Group, some media assure that is exactly this vehicle that was produced under license by a local Ukrainian armor maker. While there's currently no official confirmation of that, we can at least break down its capabilities and features, especially since it's a really interesting unit prioritizing protection and versatility over anything.

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To start with, Paramount Group presented its Mbombe 6x6 armored personnel carrier in 2010, and in positioning its development revealed all of its trump cards right away.

Underscoring its sturdy armor, evolved from experiences in fighting the Taliban forces in Afghanistan, the company stated that Mbombe 6x6's belly could withstand a 50-kg mine exploding 5 meters from the vehicle. Unlike, for example, a Bushmaster with its V-hull, the bottom of Mbombe is flat to keep a low profile while preserving anti-mine protection properties.

Mbombe 6x6 / Defense Express / What's the African Mbombe 6x6 Vehicle and How its Copy Found its Way to Ukraine
Mbombe 6x6 / Illustrative photo credit: Paramount Group

The APC boasts a high cross-country capability with an independent suspension system. The engine of 457 hp can speed up the vehicle to 100 km/h on road, operational mobility is 700 km. The crew comprises three personnel plus up to 11 troops in the landing compartment.

However, it took a while before the Mbombe 6x6 found its first customer. As of 2016, Paramount Group had a contract for 50 Mbombe's with Jordan, where 25 of them would be produced at the company and the other half assembled at the Jordanian industries. The details of the progress of this deal are lacking but here's an interesting note: in 2020, Libya's government-controlled forces received an unspecified number of Mbombe 6x6 for fighting against the units of Field Marshal Haftar.

Currently, Mbombe vehicles are no longer seen in service with the Jordanian Armed Forces. As for the operations of these APCs in Libya, no information in the public domain either.

If the data that one of the Ukrainian enterprises received a license for the production of the Mbombe 6x6 for the Ukrainian Armed Forces is confirmed, this won't mean that Ukraine is currently the only customer of this armored vehicle. There is a message from Military Africa that came out just 5 days ago, and it says that Ecuador ordered a Mbombe 6x6 brigade kit from the Paramount Group for counter-guerrilla operations near the border with Colombia.

Mbombe 6x6 / Defense Express / What's the African Mbombe 6x6 Vehicle and How its Copy Found its Way to Ukraine
One of the Mbombe 6x6 vehicles from Jordan handed to the government's forces in Libya in 2020 / Open-source photo
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