ISLAMABAD, Pakistan ― Pakistan’s Cavalier Group unveiled its latest wheeled armored fighting vehicles at the Bahrain International Defence Exhibition and Conference over Oct. 16-18 in hopes of breaking into the Gulf-Middle East market. However, it faces stiff competition from entrenched suppliers and is yet to secure domestic orders that could help export hopes.
The six-wheel drive Hamza and the four-wheel drive Interceptor were specifically designed for the Gulf-Middle East market.
The Hamza is a mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicle with armor rated at the Level 4 STANAG 4569 standard; it can be increased to Level 5 STANAG 4569. It features a V-shaped hull meant to survive 10 kilograms worth of TNT detonated under any wheel.
It can be armed with machine guns or a larger-caliber cannon, and it accommodates 13 personnel (including a three-man crew) on blast-mitigating seats.
The Interceptor is an internal security vehicle built on the Toyota Land Cruiser 79 chassis with options of Level B6 or Level B7 armored protection.
The six-wheel drive Hamza was developed from the eight-wheel drive variant unveiled at Pakistan’s biennial defense exhibition IDEAS in November 2016, targeted at a possible ground forces requirement to support U.N. peacekeeping operations and for use by Pakistan’s paramilitary Frontier Corps and Frontier Constabulary. At the time, Cavalier Group told Defense News the chassis would spawn a family of vehicles, with a six-wheel drive variant being developed for police, paramilitary rangers and air forces.
Any contracts would be fulfilled in partnership with Pakistan’s state-owned manufacturer of armored fighting vehicles, Heavy Industries Taxila, making it the largest such public-private joint venture undertaken in Pakistan.
However, it’s uncertain whether Cavalier Group can secure exports, despite telling Defense News it could offer supplies at half the cost of European manufacturers.
Besides established European and North American suppliers, notable competition would certainly come from Turkish company Otokar, which already extensively supplies Bahrain’s security services. And like other Turkish companies such as FNSS ― which recently supplied its eight-wheel and six-wheel drive PARS vehicles to Oman ― Otokar is making inroads in the Gulf-Middle East market.
Also at BIDEC was Canada’s Cambli Group promoting its Thunder 2 tactical armored truck for use by militaries and law enforcement. The truck provides Level B7 protection and has already secured one North African customer.
Regional competition comes from Oman’s Engine Engineering Company with its NIMR range of four-wheel drive armored vehicles similar to Cavalier Group’s Interceptor.
Author, analyst and former Australian defense attache to Islamabad Brian Cloughley says Cavalier Group may have a chance, especially if domestic orders also eventuate.
“The products appear to be high quality, and there is little doubt that the Pakistan Army will continue to need such vehicles. In spite of having gained ascendancy in the Afghanistan frontier areas, they will have to remain in the area for the foreseeable future, and it is harsh terrain, even for well-built vehicles”, he said.
“As current holdings wear out, there will be a definite requirement for replacements, and perhaps this is where the Hamza, especially, could figure. It is not an over-complex vehicle and is also ideally suited to paramilitary forces. Production volume would in that case cut costs.”
Further cost-cutting would improve export potential, and “the Gulf States are an obvious market and might be persuaded that acquisition of small numbers of a product in use by Pakistan’s armed forces would be economical as well as a major goodwill gesture,” Cloughley added.
Unfortunately, the lack of clarity from Pakistan’s Army as to whether it even wants wheeled armored fighting vehicles, despite the need, is unhelpful. Therefore, “exports are a different matter,” he said.