At DSEI 2023, Rheinmetall is presenting the Caracal Air Assault Vehicle, a 4×4 vehicle based on the chassis from Mercedes-Benz’ new G-model 464 series. The Caracal is the product of a successful collaboration between Rheinmetall, Mercedes-Benz, and Armoured Car Systems (ACS) and has already gained the approval of both the German and Dutch armed forces. This achievement has enabled Rheinmetall to secure contracts to provide up to 3,058 units of the Caracal.
Engineered with the most demanding military requirements in mind, the Caracal is tailor-made for airmobile formations and special operations forces. It boasts exceptional mobility, a lightweight construction, and the option to attach protective elements capable of countering both ballistic and landmine threats. One of Caracal’s remarkable features is its compact design, enabling the transport of up to two vehicles within the cargo hold of heavy transport helicopters, which can also carry it as underslung cargo. Thanks to its versatile modular design and two wheelbase options, the Caracal can fulfill a wide range of roles during airborne operations, including troop transport, ambulance duties, combat engineer groups, and diverse logistical missions, all on a single automotive platform.
The Caracal is built upon a commercial off-the-shelf chassis from the new G-model 464 series by Mercedes-Benz, allowing a payload capacity of up to 2,000 kg. This strategic choice ensures that Rheinmetall can provide users worldwide with a proven, technologically advanced platform that offers long-term logistical support throughout the vehicle’s extensive service life.
With the introduction of the Caracal, Rheinmetall has significantly expanded its portfolio of tactical vehicle systems to encompass the highly promising less-than-10-ton 4×4 segment, where the company anticipates robust growth opportunities. Notably, Rheinmetall has secured significant contracts with both the German and Dutch armed forces to supply up to 3,058 Caracal airmobile platforms. This multi-year framework agreement includes the delivery of 2,054 vehicles to Germany and 1,004 to the Netherlands. As an initial step, a firm order has been placed for 1,508 vehicles from the framework contract. The first trial models are set for delivery in the first quarter of 2024, with series production slated to commence in early 2025.
The Caracal Air Assault Vehicle has been developed through a collaborative effort involving Rheinmetall, Mercedes-Benz, and ACS, signifying a notable step in strategic cooperation. It is constructed on the latest military-proven G-Class chassis by Mercedes-Benz, which ensures its durability and reliability in demanding operational scenarios. The vehicle’s superstructure, designed by ACS, is lightweight and modular, enhancing its agility and adaptability.
A key feature of the Caracal is its air-transportability, making it compatible with modern helicopters such as the CH-47F Chinook and CH-53K King Stallion, either as an internal load or underslung. Additionally, the Caracal can be equipped with optional ballistic protection elements to enhance the safety of its occupants in high-risk environments. The Caracal has dimensions of varying length (ranging from 4,350mm to 4,700mm, depending of the wheelbase option), a width of 1,810mm, and a height of 1,850mm, with a gross vehicle weight of 4,900 kg.
Regarding performance, the Caracal offers a maximum road speed of 130km/h and can handle challenging terrains with a gradient of up to 60%, a side slope of 30%, and a fording depth of 700mm. It has a climbing ability of 330mm and can cross trenches up to 500mm wide. The vehicle is equipped with ABS and ESP and is powered by a Euro III Mercedes-Benz 6-cylinder Diesel engine with an output of 183kW (249hp) and 600Nm of torque at 1,400 – 2,800rpm, coupled with a Mercedes-Benz NAG3 9G-tronic transmission. It offers various variants, including personnel transport (half group/group), reconnaissance, ambulance, command post, and combat engineer group/material transport.
Optional protection kits are available, including ballistic and mine protection kits. The Caracal is scheduled to enter large-scale series production in 2024 and is supported by Rheinmetall’s commitment to providing full life cycle support for over 20 years. In summary, the Caracal represents an advancement in airborne mobility, designed to meet the evolving needs of modern armed forces with its versatile capabilities and adaptable design.