Cambodia sends 14 Mahindra MPV-i MRAP armoured vehicles for UN mission in Mali

As reported by The Khmer Times, Cambodia has sent 14 armoured vehicles, and 5 containers with refuelling systems and equipment for the Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Squadron for the MINUSMA, the UN mission in the Republic of Mali.
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A Mahindra MPV-i mine-protected vehicle (MRAP) is transported from the Training School for Multi-National Peacekeeping Forces in Kampong Speu province. This is one of 14 MPVs that Cambodia is shipping to Mali (Picture source: NPMEC)

The ceremony was held on June 6, in the presence of Ouch Borith, Deputy Prime Minister and Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at the Multinational Peacekeeping Forces Training School in Phnom Sruoch District, Kampong Speu Province. Borith stated that the vehicles and the containers will be delivered to the Sihanoukville International Port and will then be shipped to Mali on June 8. The arrival s scheduled for mid-August 2023.

General Sem Sovanny, First Vice-Chairman of the National Committee and Director-General of the National Peacekeeping Centre, said that 4 of the 14 armoured vehicles were fully-equipped ambulances, and the other 10 armoured vehicles are APCs, a badly-needed asset because insurgents frequently set up roadside mines, ambushes and improvised explosive devices. So far, the Cambodian contribution to the Mali mission consists of an EOD unit and an airport engineering detachment.

Kosal Malinda, NPMEC (National Centre for Peacekeeping Forces, Mines and Explosive Remnants of War Clearance) spokeswoman, told The Phnom Penh Post on June 6 that the armored vehicles and additional equipment were requested by the UN, in order to protect the Cambodian peacekeepers. “At present 144 Cambodians are serving in Mali,” she said, adding that at present, Mali was one of the highest risk areas the Kingdom’s blue helmets are operating in, and had seen an increase in the use of IEDs.“This is why the UN requested that we provide additional protection to our troops,” she said.

The Phnom Penh Post reports that, also on June 6, the French Foreign ministry’s Mission de Coopération de Défense (MCD), which focuses on international defence cooperation, is running an advanced training course for Cambodia’s “blue helmet” peacekeeping troops to make them ready for future missions. The training came a day after a meeting between Christophe Roussel, a French judicial police training official and Sem Sovanny, on June 5.

Mahindra MPV-i

The Mahindra MPV-i is powered by a ruggedized 230 HP diesel engine, paired with a 6x6 transmission. It combines excellent ballistic and mine protection, with a top and side protection of CEN Level B6, and blast protection up to Stanag Level 4A.

The Ballistic Protection capabilities of the Mahindra MPV-i are designed to ensure the safety of its occupants in hostile environments. At the top, the Mahindra MPV-i is built to endure the impact of 7.62x51 mm ball, 5.56x45 mm, and 7.62x39 mm ammunition. It can withstand these direct hits from a distance of 10 meters, even when the attack occurs at a 90° angle. Its side mine protection is capable of withstanding the explosion of an improvised explosive device (IED) containing at least 10 kg of TNT. This protection is effective when the IED detonates at a distance of 5 meters and at a height of 1.5 meters from the ground.

The vehicle's bottom under-carriage is fortified against landmine blasts. It can withstand a minimum of 14 kg of TNT or its equivalent under the hull of the vehicle. Additionally, the under-tyre area is protected against a minimum of 21 kg of TNT or its equivalent.

To verify the effectiveness of these protection measures, the Mahindra MPV-i underwent a landmine certification test conducted by BAE Land Systems OMC. The results confirmed that the vehicle's structure provides adequate protection to the occupants against 14 kg of TNT explosives beneath the hull and 21 kg of TNT explosives beneath the rear wheel of the vehicle.

Moreover, the Mahindra MPV-i offers comprehensive protection from all sides. It can withstand direct hits from 7.62x51 mm ball, 5.56x45 mm, and 7.62x39 mm ammunition, even from a distance of 10 meters and at a 90° angle of attack. This all-around protection enhances the safety and security of the vehicle's occupants in hostile environments.

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This Mahindra MPV looks like an adaptation of the Russian KrAZ "Fiona" MRAP heavy APC. Russia is indeed an important supplier of the Indian defence industry and army (Picture source: The Khmer Times)

The United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) was established by Security Council resolution 2100 of 25 April 2013 to support political processes in that country and carry out a number of security-related tasks. The Mission was asked to support the transitional authorities of Mali in the stabilization of the country and implementation of the transitional roadmap.

By unanimously adopting resolution 2164 of 25 June 2014, the Council further decided that the Mission should focus on duties, such as ensuring security, stabilization and protection of civilians; supporting national political dialogue and reconciliation; and assisting the reestablishment of State authority, the rebuilding of the security sector, and the promotion and protection of human rights in that country.

Defense News June 2023