Ratel 81

Crew 3 + 3 infantry
Main Armament 1 × 81mm mortar mounted on a turntable inside the vehicle
Secondary Armament 1 × 7.62mm GPMG on commander’s cupola
1 × 7.62mm GPMG in AA mount on rear of vehicl
4 × 81mm smoke grenade launchers
Ammunition 148 80mm bombs stored in the turret and hull
1200 rounds 7.62mm
Combat Mass 18.5ton
Hull length 7.21m
Width 2.7m
Height 2.5m
Engine 12 litre six cylinder in line turbo diesel
Power output 230kW
Fuel 480 litres
Road Speed 105km/h
Off Road Speed 30km/h
Road Range 1000km
Off Road Range 600km
Gradient 27º
Step 0.6m
Trench 1.15m
Ford 1.2m


Deployed in the mid-1980s the Ratel 81 was designed as a mechanized mount for the 81mm mortar which serves as the basic support weapon of all battalion-sized units in the South African army. This variant provides higher mobility to the battalion mortars traveling with the mechanized infantry formations which in the past moved by truck and had to be dismounted to go into action. Furthermore, the variant also provides a degree of protection to the mortar teams although the large hatches still have to be opened on top to allow the mortar to be used. The last advantage of this version is that as the base plate of the mortar is fixed it does not have to be “shot in” allowing greater accuracy and faster time into action.

The Ratel 81 has no turret and instead received a commander’s cupola where the turret would have been located. The variant has two large semi-circular hatches fitted in place of the normal hatches on top of the vehicle through which the mortar fires. It is equipped with an 81 mm mortar firing through the roof hatches located in the center of the vehicle. The troop compartment has been modified to allow for the fitment of the mortar, turntable, and carrying of a large amount of ammunition. These modifications have reduced the number of passengers the vehicle can carry from 9 to 3. The 81 mm mortar is mounted on a turntable which can traverse a full 360 degrees.

This version of the Ratel only has two firing ports either side of the vehicle. Besides the standard three-man crew the Ratel 81 carries the three-man mortar team and 148 mortar rounds (although this can be increased through creative stacking). The vehicle mostly operates from the rear to supply indirect fire through shoot and scoot tactics.


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