Eurosatory 2024 – The MRAP is dead, long live the MRAP: first public appearance of SOFRAME Sakhar

Paolo Valpolini

In the early 2000s, with most western armies deployed in operations other than war, a new concept of vehicle was launched, the mine resistant ambush protected, MRAP in short. In the current geopolitical situation this category of vehicle has nearly disappeared, but there are regions, the Middle East being one of them, where these are still considered, SOFRAME, the military branch of the Lohr group, presenting for the first time at an exhibition its Sakhar, rock in Arabic

Leveraging the great manufacturing capacity of the Lohr group and its R&D flexibility, the company workforce is around 40 people, SOFRAME is capable to answer customer needs rapidly developing prototype vehicles.

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One of them, the Sakhar, was designed to answer an undisclosed customer’s requirement for an MRAP type vehicle with long range, good cross-country capabilities, and a protection level capable to safely transport personnel in dangerous areas, characterised by blast and ballistic threats.

Considering the need for localisation, SOFRAME selected the Tatra 815 4×4 chassis. This chassis is fitted with independently suspended swinging half-axles that provide most of the independent suspensions benefits at a much lower cost.

The Sakhar is powered by a Cummins 500 hp diesel engine coupled to an Allison automatic gearbox, which ensure a maximum speed of 110 km/h and a 600 km range. The gross vehicle mass is 19 tonnes, which gives a power-to-mass ratio in excess of 26 hp/t.

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The Sakhar has a payload of 2.5 tonnes and carries a two-man crew plus eight dismounts. The crew access the vehicle via the two side doors, while the dismounts are seated on absorbing energy seats looking inwards; three transparent windows per side and one at the rear, each with its gunport, allow transported personnel to use individual weapons from inside the vehicle. They access the Sakhar via a hydraulically operated ramp at the rear of the vehicle, maximum protection provided being Level 4 according to STANAG 4569.

The vehicle is 6,838 mm long, 2,550 mm wide and 3,328 mm high, and has a ground clearance of 400 mm. The turning radius is 8 m. It can overcome a 400 mm step, a 900 mm trench, ford an 800 mm deep river, climb a 60% slope and move on a 30% side slope.

The roof is capable to accept a remotely controlled weapon station, and the Sakhar is fitted with a modular armour package that can be upgraded according to requirements, the balance between firepower and protection, being mostly a customer’s decision.

At Eurosatory the Sakhar was exhibited fitted with an FN deFNder LightRCWS armed with a 7.62 mm machine gun and with a CILAS Helma-P C-UAS  effector mounted on a telescopic mast.

Photos P. Valpolini