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 mechanised 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 travelling with the mechanised infantry formations which in the past moved by truck and had to be dismounted to go into action. Further more the variant also provides a degree of protection to the mortar teams although the large hatches still has 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.

Unlike all other variants of the Ratel this variant does not have a turret which had to be omitted to allow for the fitment of the mortar. 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. The troop compartment has been modified to allow for the fitment of the mortar, turn table and carrying of the large amount of ammunition. These modifications have reduced the amount of passengers the vehicle can carry from 9 to 3.

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