Ukraine becomes the first country to use Caracal air assault vehicles in combat

As reported by deaidua on November 14, 2023, Rheinmetall has finalized an agreement to provide five Caracal Air Assault Vehicles to the Ukrainian government. Facilitated by financial support from the German federal government, this arrangement positions Ukraine as the first country set to deploy the Caracal, with deliveries scheduled from late 2023 to early 2024.

Showcased at the Defense and Security Equipment International (DSEI) conference in 2023, the Caracal is built on the chassis of Mercedes-Benz’s new G-model 464 series, resulting from collaborative efforts between Rheinmetall, Mercedes-Benz, and Armoured Car Systems (ACS). The collaborative venture has received approval from the German and Dutch armed forces, leading to contractual commitments for up to 3,058 units of the Caracal, with a life cycle support from Rheinmetall spanning over 20 years.

Engineered to meet the requirements of airborne military operations, the Caracal combines mobility, lightweight construction, and the capability to integrate protective elements against ballistic and landmine threats. Its compact design facilitates the transportation of up to two vehicles within the cargo hold of heavy transport helicopters or through underslung transport methods, aligning with the specifications of helicopters such as the CH-47F Chinook and CH-53K King Stallion.

The modular design of the Caracal enhances its versatility by accommodating standard infantry weapons and Anti-Tank Guided Missile (ATGM) weapons on a ring mount. This adaptability allows the vehicle to serve in various roles, from troop transport to ambulance services, combat engineering, and logistical applications.

Designed on a commercially available chassis from Mercedes-Benz’s G-model 464 series, the Caracal has dimensions of 4.7 m in length, 1.8 m in width, and 1.85 m in height. With a gross weight of 4,900kg, the airborne vehicle maintains air transportability with a weight not exceeding 4,400kg, along with a payload capacity of up to 2,000kg. Powered by a Mercedes-Benz 6-cylinder Diesel engine producing 249 horsepower and 600 Nm of torque, the Caracal achieves a top speed of 130 km/h. Additional performance capabilities include a gradient capability of 60%, a side slope tolerance of 30%, a fording depth of 0.7 m, and a trench crossing capability of 500 mm.

Projected for large-scale series production commencing in 2024, Rheinmetall has secured substantial contracts for the Caracal with the German and Dutch armed forces. The multi-year framework agreement encompasses the delivery of 2,054 vehicles to Germany and 1,004 to the Netherlands. An initial firm order for 1,508 vehicles has been placed, with trial models set for delivery in the first quarter of 2024 and series production scheduled to begin in early 2025.

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