South Africa's billion-dollar armaments industry, developed under a worldwide weapons boycott, unveiled Saturday an eight-wheeled light tank that a military chief said outclasses all similar armored cars.
"There is certainly not one other armored car in this class," Army Chief Gen. Kat Liebenberg told reporters shown the 27-ton fighting vehicle named "Rooikat" after South Africa's aggressive caracal wild cat.Defense Minister Gen. Magnus Malan announced development of the eight-wheeled vehicle after it was demonstrated to reporters at a testing range outside Pretoria.
Malan rolled out one of the armored cars at a rally in Kempton Park near Johannesburg marking the 150th anniversary of the trek by early Afrikaner settler farmers into South Africa's black-held interior.
"The Rooikat is the product of South African technological capability," Malan said, warning that any nation challenging South Africa militarily "must . . . possess this advanced technology."
Malan said the tank "represents a concept in mobile warfare that is going to make it a much sought-after product in the highly competitive international arms market."
The tank is the latest weapons system developed jointly by the military and the South African Armaments Corp. (Armscor) set up to counter a worldwide anti-apartheid arms boycott voted against Pretoria by the United Nations Security Council in 1977.
Defying the embargo, Armscor has grown into a $1.2 billion industry that outfits the South African Defense Force with a range of vehicles, guns, missiles and communications systems that have been also been sold to some 30 other countries.
Armscor chief Johan van Vuuren said the new armored car would attract foreign buyers, but he declined to identify client nations.
Locally developed howitzers claimed to be the best of their kind have been sold to a number of unidentified governments.