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Carat Black Scorpion (Centigon Citadel/Puma)

Kingdom of Belgium/France (2008)
Light Armored Personnel Carrier – Approximately 100 Built

Lightly armored personnel carriers on commercial chassis are widely produced, since they offer relatively cheap solutions for police and peacekeeping roles, or for main roles with armies with a low budget. Because of their popularity and demand, a large variety of companies around the world have decided to design and produce this kind of vehicle, as did the Carat Defense Group, headquartered in Belgium. They launched the Black Scorpion in 2008, a generic 4×4 APC based on a Toyota chassis, which has proven to be a solid base for armored vehicles. Despite, or maybe due to the sheer amount of models that are designed in this way, they generally receive only scant attention in the field of recent armored historiography, even while they play an important role in many armed conflicts, especially in Africa. The Black Scorpion, alternatively known as the Citadel or Puma, is no exception.

A Black Scorpion in its APC configuration, seen from the front right at one of Centigon’s factories. Source: Carat Defense
The open-bed version of the Black Scorpion with an additional two machine guns on swivel mounts, placed on the corners of the open rear compartment. Of note is the lower roof. Source: Carat Defense

Company History and Overview

The Centigon Security Group came to be thanks to various international takeovers, which coincide with the development and production of the Black Scorpion. The core of the company can be traced back to 1876, with the founding of carriage-maker Sayers & Scovill in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA. In 1906, the first motorcar body was built. During World War 2, the company produced trailers for the military while, in 1942, the company was renamed Hess & Eisenhardt. In 1950, the first armored car was delivered, namely an armored Lincoln Cosmo for US President Truman. After this, the company armored many cars for prominent figures, a business continuing after the armoring division of the company was taken over by O’Gara Brothers, renaming the business to O’Gara-Hess Eisenhardt. Under their leadership, business would expand, the largest of which was the armoring of the HMMWV, known as the M1114 from 1994 onwards.

The expansion also led to the establishment of (temporary) manufacturing subsidiaries abroad during the 1990s and 2000s, namely in Bahrain, Brazil, Colombia, France, Germany, Mexico, the Philippines, Russia, and Venezuela. In 2001, O’Gara-Hess & Eisenhardt was taken over by Armor Holdings and renamed Centigon. In 2007, Armor Holdings was taken over by BAE Systems Inc., but little interest was shown in the Centigon division. Therefore, Centigon was sold to the Belgian Carat Duchatelet Holdings in February 2008. Under Carat, a military division was established in Bahrain.

Company logos. The O’Gara-Hess & Eisenhardt logo was used until 2001 and then replaced by the Centigon brand after a takeover by Armor Holdings. In 2008, the company was sold to Carat which, after a reform in 2010 was named Carat Security Group, of which Centigon remained a division (represented by the blue circle in the Carat logo). Centigon was sold in 2014 to investors and renamed to Centigon Security Group in 2016.
Puma ‘14180’ of the Mexican Federal Police, who became the first and also most numerous user of the vehicle, with deliveries starting in 2008. Source: Cuartoscuro

Carat Duchatelet Holdings was reformed in March 2010. The umbrella brand Carat Security Group was created, with the divisions Carat Duchatelet, Carat Defense, and Centigon. Near the end of 2014, Centigon was sold again, this time to the Chinese companies Dongfeng Design Institute Co Ltd. (20%) and Red Star Macalline (80%). Around this time, the subsidiaries in Bahrain and Brazil were closed down, leaving factories in Colombia, France, Venezuela, and two in Mexico. In 2016, the company was renamed to Centigon Security Group. Late 2020, the Chinese shareholders announced they were interested in selling the Centigon Security Group.


Development of the new vehicle was initiated in the late 2000s, possibly after the takeover by Carat in February 2008, in concert with governmental agencies. Although unspecified, these agencies were likely the Mexican Federal Police and the Army of Bahrain, both countries which housed a Centigon subsidiary at the time and were the first recipients of the new vehicle. Later, batches were acquired by the African countries of Chad, Nigeria, Rwanda, and Burkina Faso, while Colombia, also home to a Centigon Factory, tested an example in 2018. Further users or evaluators are unknown. Undoubtedly, the vehicle has been internationally offered to other agencies and militaries, especially since the vehicle has been featured in various defense and military exhibitions. In 2017, it was displayed at the Milipol show in Paris and in 2018 at the EUROSATORY Defense and Security International Exhibition.

Until 2014, the vehicle was known as the Carat Black Scorpion. After Centigon was sold by Carat, the vehicle was marketed as the Centigon Citadel. Meanwhile, Mexico named the vehicle Puma. Centigon also slightly modified the design when it changed the name to Citadel. The most notable difference was the addition of a door on the left side of the troop compartment.

*Note to reader: this article will use the different names interchangeably depending on the context. Mexican vehicles will be referred to as Puma; Bahraini, Chadian, and Rwandan vehicles will be referred to as Black Scorpion; and post-2014 developments by Centigon will be referred to as Citadel.

The Centigon Citadel APC prototype in police colors. Changes compared to the first production series included the addition of a side door and an additional window on each side. Source: Centigon Security Group


The use of the Toyota Land Cruiser HZJ79 chassis limits the vehicle to a conventional design, but assures ease of maintenance and availability of spare parts. Power comes from a Toyota 4.5 l diesel, liquid-cooled, in-inline, six-cylinder engine with direct injection and turbocharging. At 3,600 rpm, it delivers 187 hp (138 kW) and has a torque of 365 Nm at 2,250 rpm. Power is transferred via a five-speed manual gearbox to all four wheels. The stiff front axle is suspended by coil springs and the rigid rear axle by longitudinal leaf springs. All four wheels are equipped with breaks, ventilated disc brakes at the front, and regular disc brakes at the rear.

The Toyota Land Cruiser HZJ79 on which the Black Scorpion is based. Source: Toyota

The driver is sat on the front left, with a co-driver/commander to the right. Behind the driver’s position, the troop compartment slightly expands, both in width and height, to provide enough room for an additional troop of six. They are seated on light foldable seats consisting of an aluminium frame with attached canvas, which run along the sides of the compartment. Seatbelts are provided as well. The troop enters the compartment through a double rear door.

On each side of the compartment, two bulletproof glass windows are installed, and another two in the double rear door.

Pictures showing the inside of the driver’s door and the troop compartment. Source: Carat Duchatelet Group


The base vehicle features eight firing ports, one in each of the four side and rear doors, and two on each side. Another option, as seen on a prototype and some Nigerian vehicles, has two additional firing ports, one on each side of the vehicle, in addition to two extra windows.

The vehicle can optionally be fitted with a firing port in the front right windscreen that can be equipped with a light machine gun operated by the co-driver. This option has been adopted by Chadian, Rwandan, and possibly some Bahraini vehicles.

A line-up of Chadian Black Scorpions deployed in Mali, 2013. Note the two types of weapon stations that are in use, either a heavy machine gun with a small armored shield behind it, or a light machine gun with a larger shield placed more forwards. They are also equipped with a firing port for a light machine gun in the front-left windscreen. Source: Reuters

A weapon station is installed on the roof, which has been offered in various configurations by Centigon. The most basic configuration is used by Mexican vehicles, which have no weapon mount at all, being used for police duties, although machine guns are often deployed on a tripod placed on the roof. The singular round hatch folds backwards. Bahraini and some Nigerian vehicles use another configuration, with a mounting for a weapon and a two-part hatch which folds to the sides.

Rwandan vehicles have a frontal armored shield with a mounting for a light machine gun and a hatch that folds backwards, providing the gunner with both front and rear protection. Chad uses two types of configurations, one being similar to the Rwandan, with the same gunshield but a different hatch layout. The second configuration consists of the mounting for a heavy DShK machine gun and a much smaller armored shield placed mostly behind this gun.

Top down-view of one of the Rwandan vehicles before delivery, showing the layout of the roof and weapon station. Source: Carat Security Group
A Bahraini Black Scorpion in 2011, showing the alternative placement of the weapon station. It is placed more forward, creating a cone-shaped extrusion. Note the steps that are mounted on the side, providing outside access to the weapon station, which is unique to this variant. Source: Reuters/Hamad I Mohammed

Open-bed Platform

Apart from the fully enclosed APC version, Centigon also offers an open-bed version of the Black Scorpion. From the front to the driver’s cabin, this version is identical to the regular vehicle, apart from the two front windows that gained the ability to be opened up completely. The closed troop compartment has been lowered and significantly shortened, although maintaining a weapon station on the roof. The rear of the vehicle has been opened up, and two machine gun mounts have been placed on each rear corner, providing more firepower to the vehicle, but less protection to its occupants.

The open-bed version, shown at the Eurosatory exhibition of June 2012 in Paris. Note that the vehicle does not look that different from the front compared to the regular design, apart from the front windows that fold down. For this purpose, the windscreen wipers have been top-mounted. Source:
A rear-view of the open-bed version. Of note are the swivelling machine guns mounted on the rear corners of the vehicle. It is also shown how the rearwards folding hatch of the weapon station provides rear cover for the gunner. Source:


Around 2008, the Mexican Federal Police placed an order for a number of Pumas, as well as Wolverines. The Wolverine was another armored personnel carrier developed by Carat/Centigon. It is unknown how many Pumas were ordered, however, each vehicle received a unique registration and based upon photographic evidence, at least fourteen registrations have been identified with numbers ranging from ‘14178’ to ‘14229’. Assuming all Pumas were consecutively numbered, this could mean the Federal Police acquired at least 51 vehicles, possibly more.

Puma ‘14209’ during deployment to Central de Abasto de Emiliano Zapata, a warehouse in Morelos, in March 2015. Source:

The vehicles were acquired with funds provided by the USA through the Mérida Initiative, alternatively known as Plan Mexico, which was drafted in 2007 and signed in 2008. This initiative aimed at combating organized crime, money laundering, and drug trafficking. Due to the wide deployment in Mexico, the vehicles regularly crossed Mexico on their own power. This led the vehicles to wear down relatively quickly, with a Mexican police official stating that, due to their extensive use, they were theoretically not fit to be used longer than three years.

After delivery of the first Pumas in 2008/2009, they were used in many internal security missions. For example, in March 2015, they were successfully deployed in the vicinity of Central de Abasto de Emiliano Zapata (a warehouse in Morelos) in an attempt to reduce the crime that plagued the local merchants. In May 2019, a column of 21 Federal Police vehicles, including Pumas, arrived in Tuxtepec, Oaxaca, as part of a National Guard mission to fight organized crime in the region.

On 30th March 2016, Puma ‘14224’ was involved in a one-sided accident when its driver lost control and drove into a construction site alongside the road, flipping the vehicle on its side. Although an unfortunate event, no-one was injured and the pictures provide a rare glance at the underside of the vehicle. Source: and

On 1st October 2019, the Federal Police was officially dissolved and integrated into the National Guard. At least 500 vehicles, including a number of Pumas, were transferred to the National Guard, most of them stored at Centro de Mando (Command Center) in Iztapalapa. Reportedly, many of these were in a bad mechanical condition and had been stored in the open for a while already. After the transfer, the vehicles were planned to undergo repairs. It is unknown how many Pumas were taken over by the National Guard and remain in service.

Known registrations are: 14178, 14180, 14181, 14198, 14202, 14207, 14209, 14215, 14219, 14220, 14222, 14224, 14228, and 14229.

Several police vehicles on the streets. Note the deployment of a tripod mounted machine gun. The firing port in the driver’s door has been opened. Source: GAR Spotting MX Vehículos de Emergencia y Militares Facebook


Simultaneously with Mexico, around 2008-2009, Bahrain placed an order for twenty vehicles, which were assembled in Bahrain itself. Very little is known about the vehicles which, according to SIPRI, were delivered in 2011-2012. Shortly after delivery, the Bahrain branch of Centigon closed down. It seems services were taken over by the company Manzomat Al Riyadh, based in Saudi-Arabia, which lists the Black Scorpion among their delivered products. Before the branch closed down, however, Carat Defense also developed and delivered an armor package for the Bahraini M113s.

Black Scorpions at the Centigon factory in Bahrain. The vehicles in the rear have the forward placed weapon stations, unique to Bahraini vehicles. Source: Carat Defense

The Black Scorpions arrived in the turmoil that was the Bahraini Uprising (14th February – 18th March 2011, with occasional unrest lasting until 3rd March 2014), one of the many episodes of the Arab Spring. It is unknown how, or even if the Black Scorpions played a role during the suppression of the uprising.

Already since 2012, the vehicle has sometimes been referred to as the Faisal. If this is an official name is unknown, especially since a new armored vehicle developed in Bahrain in 2019 was also named Faisal.

The sides of two Black Scorpions are seen here during a training exercise of the Bahraini Army. Source:

The Black Scorpion in Chad

Around 2011, the Chadian Army procured a number of Black Scorpions (said to be ten, but most probably more), which appear to have been produced by the Mexican subsidiary. Since Chad heavily relies upon J79 Toyota Land Cruisers in its Army, this was a straightforward decision, especially from a logistical perspective. The vehicles were likely acquired in light of the 2008 rebel attack on the capital, which unsuccessfully attempted to depose President Idriss Déby Itno.

In January 2013, Chad announced it would join the French Operation Serval against islamic insurgents in Mali and entered the country through Niger. It deployed a large number of vehicles, including technicals, BMP-1s, Eland-90s, and its new Black Scorpions. Chad’s Forces proved to be highly effective in the familiar desert terrain and became a key ally to the French forces. However, on 15th April, the Chadian Parliament voted for the withdrawal of all 2,000 troops, motivated by the death of 36 Chadian soldiers, with the first soldiers returning to Chad on 13th May.

Infographic with a timeline of the Chadian intervention in Mali. Source:

During the short, but intensive deployment that lasted three months, at least one Black Scorpion was lost when it drove on a landmine. Some of its occupants were wounded, but all survived.

This Black Scorpion drove on a landmine and was destroyed during the push towards Adrar des Ifoghas in February 2013. Source:
Two Black Scorpions being passed by other Chadian Land Cruisers in Mali. Source:

Exactly two years after the Chadian intervention in Mali, on 16th January 2015, the Chadian Army was authorised to advance into Nigeria and Cameroon to assist their respective governments, as well as Niger, in the fight against the jihadist group Boko Haram. Around 2,000 troops were deployed with some 400 vehicles, again including the Black Scorpions. During the initial push, these were relatively often photographed and filmed, partially for propaganda purposes, but over time, they were seen less in the media. Given the chances that some vehicles would be lost to IEDs and mines, it is certainly possible that a number of the Black Scorpions have been lost, especially since Chad has acquired several batches of other new armored vehicles after 2015.

Different registrations that have been observed are 7535, 7537, 7539, 7543, 7544, 8596, 8599, ??62, ?763, and 8934. Since the chances that each unique registration has been photographed is quite slim, Chad probably acquired more than just ten vehicles, but how many remains unknown.

Two Black Scorpions led part of the column of 400 vehicles into Cameroon in January 2015. Source: AFP News
Black Scorpions during deployment in Nigeria in early 2015. Source: Al Jazeera


Between 2009 and 2012, the Lagos State Government donated thirty armored personnel carriers to the Nigerian Police Forces, including an undisclosed number of Black Scorpions. Although the Nigerian Police is organized on a federal level, it has grown customary for state governments to donate hardware to the police to increase their capabilities in their respective states. This way, the Rapid Response Squad (RSS) of the Lagos State Police Command got hold on these vehicles which were delivered in various configurations, including the regular APC version with no weapon station, three windows on each side, and a side door, but also a version with the extended weapon station mount.

A Black Scorpion of the Rapid Response Squad of the Lagos State Police Command in 2015. Note the extended roof weapon station base and the external stairs going up to it. This may indicate these vehicles were delivered from the Bahraini factory before it closed down. Source: RRS on Facebook
A row of brand-new Black Scorpions during a handover ceremony. Nigeria is the only known user of this specific configuration with a sidedoor and an additional window and firing port on each side of the compartment. Source: Beegeagle’s Blog

The Black Scorpions form a small part of the ever growing fleet of Nigerian armored police vehicles, which also include large quantities of imported Streit, and locally-built Proforce vehicles, among others. Interestingly, the design of the Black Scorpion, both the APC and the Open-Bed version, were roughly copied by Proforce and built under the name PF3 Leopard.

The Proforce PF3 Leopard, which closely resembled the design philosophy of the Carat Black Scorpion and was marketed as a cheaper verison of it. Source: Techwarf


Just a meager amount of information is known about the vehicles that are operated by the police of Rwanda. At least four have been deployed to the Central African Republic with the UN mission MINUSCA (Mission multidimensionnelle intégrée des Nations unies pour la stabilisation en Centrafrique, Eng. United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic) since 2014. They are painted in classic UN-white and each has a unique UN registration, including ‘UN19026’, ‘UN19029’, and ‘UN37001’. As of 2022, all four remain in service. The Rwandan vehicles are the only ones to feature mesh frames over the windows, providing further protection against large objects.

Two Rwandan vehicles on patrol in the capital of the CAR, Bangui, on 14th September 2015. Source: AFP / Edouard Dropsy
‘UN37001’ in 2017. Rwandan Black Scorpions are the only ones to feature an additional protective mesh cover over the windows. Source:
A Black Scorpion in Bangui on 11th October 2014. Source: AFP / France24

It is unknown if the police or army of Rwanda operate any more Black Scorpions, either in the CAR or in Rwanda itself. However, it is known that MINUSCA has only a limited number of armored vehicles available, marking the former unlikely. Furthermore, the vehicles seem to have been specifically acquired for the UN mission, marking the latter as unlikely as well.

The MINUSCA mission was established on 10th April 2014 in the impoverished Central African Republic (CAR) after the republic experienced intense violence since December 2012, caused by a rebel coalition attacking governmental troops. After a year, the situation deteriorated even further, eventually leading into the UN mission (until 2016 known as MISCA). The first UN mandate allowed for 10,000 soldiers and 1,820 policemen to be deployed. Since 2014, Rwanda has been one of the top three contributing countries, providing both military and police forces. The Black Scorpions are in use with the police force in the capital Bangui.

All four Black Scorpions, shown in a news item that aired in January 2021. Source: RBA News
‘UN19026’ in 2015. Panhard VBLs can be seen in the background. Source: AFP Edouard Dropsy


In the first two weeks of October 2018, the Army of Colombia tested the Centigon Citadel. Earlier that year, Colombia had already shown interest in a similar vehicle, the Jankel Hunter PPV, while the Hunter TR-12, another similar vehicle built in Colombia, had been bought in very limited numbers. The Citadel was probably chosen to be tested because Centigon also houses a subsidiary in Colombia, although the tests were arranged through the Mexican subsidiary. After the tests, Colombia showed no further interest in the Citadel.

The prototype was tested in Colombia in October 2018. The design details indicate that this was the same prototype as exhibited at the Milipol show of 2017. Source: Erich Saumeth via

Burkina Faso

The latest recipient of the Citadel was Burkina Faso. Sometime before April 2019, at least two units were received for the Unités d’Intervention Polyvalente de la Police Nationale (Eng. National Police Multipurpose Intervention Units, abbr. UIP-PN).

A training exercise of the UIP-PN, held in Ouagadougou in April 2019. Note that the vehicle features both protective mesh on the windows, and has the additional door in the side of the crew compartment. Source: Luca Salvatore Pistone /

A UIP-PN vehicle seen from the other side. Source: Chekier Photo

On 25th February 2021, a ceremony was held in the capital, Ouagadougou, where the Gendarmerie of Burkina Faso took delivery of an additional two Citadels, as well eight Toyota Land Cruiser pick-ups, two trucks, two Toyota ambulances, eighty motorcycles, and additional equipment. This materiel, worth roughly 1 billion CFA Francs (ca. 1.5 million euros), was donated by the European Union through the Stabilization of Eastern Burkina Faso project (STABEST), arranged by the Belgian Development Agency ENABEL. The complete program had a budget of 4.7 million euros The equipment was intended to be used in Eastern Burkina Faso by the 34e Escadron de Groupement Mobile de la Gendarmerie Nationale (Eng. 34th Squadron of the Mobile Group of the National Gendarmerie) and the Compagnie Républicaine de Sécurité de Fada N’Gourma (Eng. Republic Protection Force of Fada N’Gourma). The personnel was also trained through the support program. It is unknown to what extent and with what results the vehicles have been, or are in use.

A row of vehicles donated to Burkina Faso by the European Union. Source: Lobs Paalga
The second Citadel. Note that this is the older design, while a new design was already available in 2017, indicating Centigon has not changed its production line. Source: Lobs Paalga


As of February 2022, both design iterations remain on offer by the Centigon Security Group. They also seem to be offered by the UAE-based company Dynamic Defence Solutions. It is unknown in what way this company is connected to Centigon, or if they are even allowed to market this vehicle under their brand. Chances that Centigon will secure a new deal are slim, due to the oversaturation of the market combined with the aging design.

The Chadian, Mexican, and Rwandan vehicles have all seen intensive use since their adaptation, which will possibly lead to a relatively early retirement of the model, something indirectly admitted by a Mexican police official as well. However, in their respective environments, lightly armored vehicles form a valuable asset in (border) patrol and internal security operations, so attempts will be made to keep them as long in service as possible, which is eased by the widely available Toyota spare parts.

The latest prototype of Centigon, for the first time displayed at Milipol 2017, features some differences with the earlier production models, including an additional window and firing port on each side, redesigned fenders, and a redesigned bumper. Source: Jérôme Hadacek /
The latest prototype seen from the front left. Of note is the additional door on the left side. Source:


The Black Scorpion is a capable armored vehicle and a typical example of the range of armored personnel carriers that are based on commercial chassis. The Toyota chassis assures relatively easy operation and maintenance and the reason why the Black Scorpion is among the more than 25 similar Toyota-based APCs that are offered on the international military market as of 2021. However, most of the vehicles are used very intensively, making a long service life uncertain.

A Chadian Black Scorpion armed with a DShK heavy machine gun, seen with the markings of the Groupement No1 de Garde du Palais Présidentiel.
A Puma of the Mexican Federal Police.
A black Scorpion as used by the Rwandan Police with the UN mission in the Central African Republic. All three illustrations are made by Ardhya ‘Vesp’ Anargha.


Dimensions (L-W-H) 5.560 x 2.136 x 2.190 m
Curb weight 4.1 tonnes
Crew 8 (1 driver + 7 troops including commander and gunner)
Chassis Toyota HZJ 79
Propulsion Diesel, liquid-cooled in-line six-cylinder (R6), 4164 ccm, direct injection, turbocharging, 138 kW (187 hp) at 3600 rpm, torque 365 Nm at 2250 rpm
Bore / Stroke 94 / 100 mm
Speed 120 km/h (75 mph)
Range N/A
Transmission mechanical five-speed transmission
Wheelbase 3.180 m
Track Width 1.515 / 1.555 m
Armament Optional light weapon station up to 12.7 mm, optional front-facing firing port, 8 firing ports
Armor STANAG 1 / VPAM Kl.7 / CEN B6
Total Production Unknown, at least 89


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Carat Security Group company brochure.
Carat Security Group corporate brochure.
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Armored Personnel Carriers LAV APC B6 B7, Dynamic Defense Solutions.
Retour sur le salon MILIPOL 2017 (mise à jour 10h15) – Mise à jour 9 décembre 2017, 2017,
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CITADEL Toyota HZJ 79, Centigon Security Group.
CITADEL Toyota HZJ 79 Police, Centigon Security Group.
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Stabilisation région de l’Est : des équipements d’un milliard de FCFA pour relever le défi, 25th February 2021,

Modern Australian Armor Modern Belgian Armor Modern British Armor Modern Kuwaiti Armor Modern Singaporean Armor

Shorland S600 (BAe Foxhound)

United Kingdom/Australia/Kingdom of Belgium/State of Kuwait/Republic of Singapore (1993)
Internal Security Vehicle/Infantry Mobility Vehicle – 37 Built (32 Production Vehicles, 4 Prototypes, 1 Hull)

The Shorland S600, based on a Unimog chassis, was the last armored vehicle designed by the Northern-Irish company Short Brothers. Only two prototypes would be produced under their name, as the complete Shorland range of vehicles was sold to British Aerospace Australia (BAe) in 1996. They built a new prototype, known as the Foxhound, which was constructed as a contender in the Australian Bushranger program. After dropping out of this program, international interest led to the sale of 22 vehicles to the Kuwaiti National Guard in 1997. While the Belgian Gendarmerie was testing the vehicle, the S600 design was sold to yet another company, this time Australian-based Tenix Defence. Under their name, a modest number of vehicles were sold to Belgium (6), South-Korea (2), and Singapore (2). In January 2008, Tenix Defence was bought by BAE Systems, essentially returning the S600 to its previous producer. Without any further sales, the S600 product range was eventually suspended during the 2010s.

One of the two Short Brothers’ prototypes in 1996, equipped as a Police support vehicle with typical blue rotating lights (produces a flashing effect). The headlamps in the bumper are not installed. Although they were usually fitted, it has to be noted that without headlamps, this vehicle would not be road-legal. Source:


Starting from the 1960s, the Northern-Irish company Short Brothers, also known as ‘Shorts’, started building armored cars on commercially available Land Rover chassis’. Commercially, it was a successful venture, with vehicles sold to dozens of countries. In 1992, Shorts started the search for a new, readily available chassis, on which a new vehicle could be developed. Shortly thereafter, the German Unimog 437 series was selected, both the U 1550 L and heavier U 2150 L chassis variants, which had been introduced in 1988. These chassis had already demonstrated good cross-country performance and spare parts were easily available all over the world.

In 1993, detailed design work started on the armored body, and to secure a good fit, some parts of the Unimog chassis had to be repositioned. The work was finished in 1994 and construction commenced of the first two prototypes, which were completed in early 1995. Compared to a regular Unimog, the S600 shared some 80% components. In September, the new prototype was officially introduced at the Royal Navy & British Army Equipment Exhibition.

Shorts had two main versions in mind. The first was the ISV, an Internal Security Vehicle, which would utilize the U 1550 L chassis with a Mercedes-Benz 366 in-line water-cooled turbocharged diesel engine, producing 156 hp. This vehicle, weighing between 8 to 9,5 tonnes action-ready and spacious enough to carry twelve men, was designed for police, paramilitary, and military use.

The other version was the IMV, the Infantry Mobility Vehicle. This version utilized the heavier U 2150 L chassis with a 366LA in-line turbocharged and inter-cooled engine, producing 214 hp. The combat weight of this version was around 12.5 tonnes and could carry a section of eight men and three days’ supplies. This version could also be adapted to a command, ambulance, heavily armed support, or air defense weapons carrier.

The S600 in 1995, equipped as an IMV with a .50 cal weapon station (left) and as an ambulance (right). Sources: left: Peter Brown in Armored Car right: unknown

Two prototypes were built by Shorts. These were equipped as several variants for testing and promotion purposes in 1995 and 1996. For example, in 1995, it was outfitted as an ambulance version while in September, it was a regular IMV variant with a 12.7 mm M2 machine gun on top. In 1996, it was also seen as a police variant and painted blue, while the ISV prototype was seen featuring a white UN livery. These first prototypes are easily distinguishable from the vehicles that were later built, as they had a differently designed front. The louvers were square, stuck out a bit, and consisted of eight narrow slats. The corners of the front were rounded off. Later vehicles featured much larger slats and square corners.

The design of the Unimog chassis translated itself quite clearly in the S600, just as can be seen on other Unimog-based armored vehicles, like the German TM-170. With a short bonnet and a high superstructure, the S600 had a roomy interior. This room made the design very versatile, further enhanced by the relatively basic construction, which allowed the vehicle to be tailored to meet specific and individual operational requirements from various customers.

Therefore, most features of the S600 were up for change, with Shorts suggesting various weapon stations, different vision ports, air conditioning units, additional radiographic equipment, applique armor kits, and the like.

The second prototype. For promotional purposes, it has been painted in a white UN livery. Source:

Multilayered Australian interest

In 1993, the Australian Army initiated the Bushranger project, which aimed to select a new Infantry Mobility Vehicle. Phase 1 resulted in the supply of Interim Infantry Mobility Vehicles, for which the Land Rover Perentie was chosen. In 1994, the initiation of Phase 2A started the process to select a definitive IMV. The requirements called for a vehicle that could carry nine soldiers and equipment, fuel, and supplies for three days, which should include at least 270 l of water. With a cruising speed of 90 km/h on-road, it should have a range of 600-1,000 km and have off-road capabilities equal to a Unimog truck. In terms of armament and protection, it should have provision for a machine gun mount, and armor protection against regular 7.62 mm rounds was required. Protection against AP bullets and mines was desired but not one of the core requirements.

The Foxhound, developed by BAe and Shorts as a contender for the Australian Bushranger project. Compared to the first S600 prototype, it had a redesigned bonnet with a new placement of the louvers and a centrally mounted winch. In the rear part of the superstructure, on both sides, large notches were designed where spare wheels could be carried. Source: Jane’s

A total of thirteen companies showed interest in the project and five of these were shortlisted.
1. Australian Specialised Vehicle Systems (ASVS), a joint venture between ANI and Reumech Austral. They offered the Taipan, a modified version of the South African Mamba.
2. Transfield Defence System, which teamed up with German Thyssen Henschel, and offered the TM-170.
3. Perry Engineering teamed up with Timoney and offered a version of their MP44.
4. Westrac teamed up with TFM and offered the RG-12 Nyala.
5. Lastly, British Aerospace Australia (BAe) offered an improved Shorts S600, which BAe called Foxhound.

Late in 1995, Phase 2B was initiated, which was the request for tender. Shortly after, Transfield and Westrac withdrew, leaving ASVS, Perry Engineering, and BAe.

In 1996, BAe started construction of a new improved prototype of the S600, known as the Foxhound. Near the end of that year, Shorts decided to sell the entire Shorland range of vehicles to BAe, due to internal restructuring of the company. This not only included the S600 design, but also the older designs that were based on the Land Rovers, namely the S52 and S55. BAe would never take these into production, however, and solely focussed on their Foxhound. Of the two Shorts prototypes, one was relocated to Australia, while future production could either take place in Northern Ireland or Australia, depending on the customer.

In October 1996, the Australian Army issued a new contract negotiating directive, which initiated the official negotiations for contracts with the three companies to provide a trial vehicle. However, before the formal contract negotiations could commence with BAe, they announced their intention to drop out and withdrew their offer for the Foxhound in January 1997.

First customer: Kuwait

Although BAe let the possibility of an Australian success go, another commercial success was near. During the second half of the 1990s, the National Guard of Kuwait (الحرس الوطني الكويتي, KNG for short) was searching for a new armored internal security vehicle to be used by the Internal Security Battalion (الحرس الوطني الكويتي, ISB for short). Apart from supporting the Kuwait Army in case of a foreign invasion and protecting vital targets or installations against any threat, an important duty of the KNG is to support the police in maintaining security and stability.

Three of the KNG S600s during a parade. The vehicle in the front is outfitted with the heavy barricade remover, while the other two, with registration 10015 and 10013, are the regular APC version. Source: Kuwait National Guard

BAe’s offer of the Foxhound was challenged by unspecified vehicles from South Africa, the USA, and the UK. After evaluation, the S600 was chosen in January 1997, coinciding with the Australian offer being canceled, KNG signed a contract with BAe for delivery of 22 vehicles in 4 (6) versions. The first pre-series vehicle was ready by early September 1997 and presented in October at the BAe factory in Wingfield, Adelaide, South Australia. It was successful and the production of 22 vehicles commenced, which were built and delivered in 1998 and 1999. With production finished by 1999, the Shorland program was sold again, this time to Tenix Defence Systems, also from Australia, Barton. They continued the program and secured a three-year-long life support contract and follow-on weapon system integration updates until 2003 with Kuwait. Some Tenix personnel was also relocated to Kuwait for that purpose. Besides this, operator and maintainer training was offered to the National Guard.

The acquired versions included the ambulance, the armored personnel carrier with two types of weapon stations, the high-pressure water cannon carrier, and both the light and heavy barricade remover. All vehicles are painted in an identical regular KNG paint scheme with a sand yellow base, broken up by green patches and smaller white dots. Apart from the ambulance, which has blue, all vehicles are fitted with orange flashing lights. All vehicles are registered with a number, starting with 100, followed by the vehicle number ranging from 01 to 22.

These three vehicles, 10018, 10019, and 10020, are outfitted with high-pressure water cannons for riot control.
One such vehicle is seen in action during an exercise in February 2013. Source: Kuwait National Guard
This picture from May 2014, taken during Nasr Exercise 12, shows five S600s in the back, including an ambulance (10021), three APCs, and possibly a water cannon vehicle in the rear. Source: Kuwait National Guard
Still from a short film, showing S600 ‘10002’ in a parade with other types of KNG vehicles. Behind it drives a US-built Pandur II 6×6 with a 25 mm Bushmaster, and in front of it a US HMMWV and a French Panhard VBL. This image shows a good size comparison with other, more common vehicles. Source: Kuwait National Guard on Youtube

Design of the base vehicle

The vehicle developed for Kuwait would form the basis for other vehicles that were sold later. According to the manufacturer, the S600 was relatively cheap in its class, while retaining as good performance as its commercial counterparts. Being based on the tried and tested Unimog chassis, operational costs were relatively low, due to 80% parts commonality with regular vehicles and thus easily available spares. Furthermore, the range was supported by world-wide Mercedes-Benz repair points within their dealer-network.


Unlike the original options envisioned by Shorts, under Australian management, all versions were to be based on the more powerful U 2150 L chassis. The diesel engine, which is coupled to a manual transmission with eight forward and four reverse gears, is located in the front of the vehicle and can be accessed through hatches. In case full access is needed, the whole armored body can be lifted from the chassis.

The wheels are fitted to portal axles which have hub drive and torque tubes. They also have pneumatically operated differential locks that can be operated while the vehicle is moving. Each wheel station has an independent suspension that consists of coil springs and hydraulic shock absorbers. Furthermore, steering is power-assisted.

For the many roles that were envisioned for the S600, it was often considered essential that troops could quickly embark or disembark the vehicle. Therefore, the original Shorts prototype had three doors, one on each side and one in the back, but most vehicles featured only two doors, with one in the back and one on the side. The side door essentially is a two-part hatch, with the lower part folding down to form a step, while the upper part, which also has an integral vision block, is opened upwards. The rear door is very similar in design but wider, and the upper hatch could also contain a firing port. A novel feature is that the upper part can be locked in an open position while driving, which could prove beneficial in certain circumstances.

First introduced on the Foxhound prototype were two large notches in the rear sides of the superstructure, where spare wheels could be carried. This option was carried over on several variants.


The armor plating was newly developed by BAe and Bisalloy Steels from Unanderra NSW. The armored hull was of completely welded construction and provided enough protection against 5.56 mm and 7.62 mm small arms fire. Although an option was offered for appliqué armor, improving the protection against 5.56 mm and 7.62 mm AP bullets, this option seems to never have been bought by any S600 customer. The windows are bulletproof and provide the same protection as the armor. The belly protection is sufficient against grenades and small mine blasts.

Production of the Kuwait vehicles in 1998. For extensive maintenance, the complete hull can be lifted from the chassis. Source: Tenix Defence


The S600 could accommodate various weapon stations. For example, the prototype had a single-piece circular hatch in the roof where a variety of armament systems could be fitted, with the largest being a 12.7 mm M2 machine gun or a 40 mm Mk 19 Mod 3 grenade launcher. These weapon stations can also be fitted with a protective armored shield. Apart from this layout, other roof arrangements were offered by the manufacturer, for example, circular roof hatches above the commander’s and driver’s positions at the front. Apart from weapons on the roof, another option was the fitting of firing ports below the vision blocks in the rear compartment. This option was used both by Singapore and South-Korea.


Depending on the customer’s needs, the driver sits either on the right or the left, with the commander beside him. However, only the two Singapore vehicles feature a right-hand drive, while all other vehicles have a left-hand drive. Windows in the front and sides provide a 180º field of view. For crew comfort, the S600 was equipped as standard with an air conditioning unit.

In the hull section behind the driver and commander positions, bench seats run down either side of the hull, on which troops can be seated facing each other. For safety and comfort purposes, each seat has a seatbelt. Under the seats is space to store equipment and supplies.

Optional equipment

Since the S600 left room for many customizations, many more things could be fitted, but the manufacturer proposed the following: appliqué armor, automatic transmission, various communication systems, a different Euro 2 diesel engine, a fire detection and suppression system, a heater, Hutchinson run-flat inserts for the tires, land navigation systems, night vision equipment, self-recovery winch, wire cutters, smoke grenade launchers, or a Mercedes-Benz central tire-inflation system. This system allows the driver to adjust the tire pressure to suit the type of ground that is being crossed.



1. PA System Controls (optional) | 2. First Aid Kit | 3. HVAC Ducting (optional) | 4. Medical Kit | 5. Litter Rails | 6. Litter | 7. Oxygen Bottle | 8. Pioneer Tools (optional) | 9. FESS Extinguisher (optional) | 10. FESS Control Panel (optional) | 11. PA Siren/Speaker (optional) Source: Tenix Defence

The ambulance version has a crew of three that includes a driver and two medical staff. The rear compartment is configured to carry either three stretcher patients or two stretcher patients and four seated patients.

Kuwaiti Ambulance vehicle with the Red Crescent symbol on the front and side. Kuwait probably operates two of these vehicles. Source: Tenix Defence

Armored personnel carrier

1. PA Siren/Speaker (optional) | 2. Grenade Launcher Controls (optional) | 3. PA System Controls (optional) | 4. First Aid Kit | 5. Gun Port (optional) | 6. Gunner’s Platform | 7. Grenade Launcher (optional) | 8. Hull Vision Block | 9. HVAC Ducting | 10. Fire Extinguisher | 11. Grenade Ammunition Stowage (optional) | 12. Ammunition Stowage | 13. Pioneer Tools (optional) | 14. FESS Extinguisher (optional) | 15. FESS Control Panel (optional) Source: Tenix Defence

The APC version can be considered as a base version of the S600. It offers seating for twelve personnel and has a total payload of 3,300 kg. This stands identical to a full rifle section, complete with a combat load. With a range up to 1,000 km, the vehicle was designed for a three-day deployment.

Heavy Barricade Remover (Riot Control)

1. Grenade Launcher control | 2. PA System | 3. First Aid Kit | 4. Gunners Platform | 5. HVACS Ducting | 6. Fire Extinguisher | 7. Grenade Ammunition | 8. Ammunition | 9. Pioneer Tools | 10. FESS Extinguisher | 11. FESS Control Panel Source: Tenix Defence

Light Barricade Remover (riot control)

1. Grenade Launcher Control (optional) | 2. PA system Control (optional) | 3. First Aid Kit | 4. Gunner’s Platform (optional) | 5. Grenade Launcher (optional) | 6. Hull Vision Block | 7. HVAC Ducting (optional) | 8. Gun Port (optional) | 9. Fire Extinguisher | 10. Grenade Ammunition Stowage (optional) | 11. Ammunition Stowage (optional) | 12. Pioneer Tools (optional) | 13. FESS Extinguisher (optional) | 14. FESS Control Panel (optional) | 15. Barricade Remover | 16. PA Siren / Speaker Control (optional) Source: Tenix Defence

High-Pressure water Cannon

1. PA Siren/Speaker (optional) | 2. Wire Cutter | 3. PA System Controls (optional) | 4. Search Light | 5. Water Monitor | 6. Operator’s Seat | 7. First Aid Kit | 8. Gun Port (optional) | 9. Vision Block | 10. HVAC Ducting | 11. Tool Kit | 12. Gravity Fill | 13. Tank Cover | 14. Hydrant Tap | 15. Hydrant Tap | 16. Suction Hose | 17. Tank Baffles | 18. Hydrant Hose Filling | 19. Additive Tank | 20. Priming Pump | 21. FESS Extinguisher (optional) | 22. FESS Control Panel (optional) Source: Tenix Defence

The high-pressure water cannon version carried a 3,000-liter tank which offered the capacity to have five minutes of continuous water jetting.


The command version would be fitted with up to five radios and a folding workbench that was fitted with a map board and enclosed annex. When stationary, this vehicle could be used as a command post. It would have a crew of six, including a driver, commander, and four radio operators.


This version’s main feature would be a stabilized mast-mounted sensor package, comprising a laser range finder, radar, thermal camera, and a TV camera, with an operator’s console in the hull. It would have a crew of four.

Police Internal Security Vehicle

Like the APC, the ISV configuration was another base design, which provided seating for up to 12 personnel with full equipment.

The ISV variant, outfitted to Belgian specifications with a light barricade remover and larger rear windows. Source: Luc De Jaeger

Airport security

The airport security vehicle allowed the crew to remain closed up in the vehicle for longer periods in comfort, to allow monitoring from one place. It would have special provisions for airfield communication systems and provision for a concealed weapon. This proposed variant would have a crew of four.

Mortar Carrier

This proposed variant could carry a standard BAE systems Ro Defence 81 mm mortar that would fire through an opening roof hatch. The vehicle would be crewed by three men, including a driver, mortar detachment commander, and a mortar crew member.

Anti-hijack vehicle

The anti-hijack vehicle was created around 2001/2002 for the South-Korean market and featured a MARS system fitted on the roof. MARS stands for Mobile Adjustable Ramp System, which provides a more tactical approach to enter and rescue in elevated locations, like buildings or planes. It also provides an elevated platform for snipers during other kinds of missions.

The Tenix S600 pre-series vehicle, displayed at IDEX’2001. Source: Танкомастер 2001 no.2

Under a new company

After BAe completed production of the 22 Kuwaiti vehicles, they decided to sell the Foxhound/S600 design to Tenix Defence Systems in January 1999, who continued the program and also took over the involved managers and engineers. Although the name Shorland S600 was retained, during the Tenix years, the vehicle was regularly referred to as Tenix S600. Tenix was only formed in 1997 when it split from its parent company Transfield Services. It became the largest defense contractor in Australia.

Belgium: the second customer

Since the late 1970s, the Belgian Gendarmerie (NL: Rijkswacht, a paramilitary police force) had been operating 80 BDX armored vehicles. After the Gendarmerie became a civilian police organization in 1992, the number was drastically scaled-down and, near the end of the 1990s, it became clear a replacement was needed. After evaluating a variety of options, the Alvis Tactica, Vickers OMC RG-12, and the Shorland S600 were selected as potential successors. After extensive testing in Belgium, the S600 was eventually selected and, in 1999, a contract was signed with Tenix for delivery of six vehicles, with an option for more in the next two fiscal years, although this option was never used. The deal was worth 5 million Australian dollars (120 million Belgian Francs or 3.8 million USD).

The keys are handed over by South Australian Premier John Olson (right) to Belgian Police Colonel Alain Mouthuy (left). In the center stands Paul Salteri, managing director of Tenix. Only the first vehicle was painted in this scheme for a short time, it was repainted before delivery. Source: Tenix Defence
The brand new vehicle. The Belgian version is the Police Internal Security Vehicle, with requested modifications like a roof higher by ten centimeters and larger windows in the rear. The light barricade remover is still in immaculate condition. Source: Jane’s

On 31 January 2001, South Australian Premier John Olsen symbolically handed over the keys of the first vehicle to Colonel Alain Mouthuy of the Belgian Police. The ceremony took place at the Technology Park in Adelaide, where Tenix Defence was based. This vehicle was painted in Gendarmerie colors, with a red-orange line protruding from the center of the bonnet up between the front windows. As the Gendarmerie had become the Federal Police after 1 April 2001, during reforms that combined all police units into one force, divided at a local and federal level, this paint scheme was never adopted. Instead, when the first vehicles were delivered to Belgium in August 2001, they were painted in a newly adopted scheme. The vehicles are registered with regular license plates. Confirmed registrations are DQM-036, -037, -038, -039, and -042. The vehicles also have vehicle numbers, identical to the last two numbers of the license plate.

Vehicle 42 (DQM-042) seen in May 2016. The vehicles are operated by the Public Safety Directorate, written on the left side in French, and on the right side in Dutch. The light barricade remover is regularly repainted, but in a well-loved state at the time this photograph was taken. Source: Gendarmekes Hulpdienstenfotografie

According to the Belgian Police, the main purpose of the vehicles is to safely transport policemen whenever there is an armed threat or excessive use of violence, for example in the form of a rioting group throwing projectiles like stones and fireworks. Aside from protecting the police within, it can also offer protection for police behind it, and it can easily break through erected barricades and the like. Within the vehicle is space for a driver, commander, and up to seven policemen.

The Belgian vehicles are made airtight to allow operation in an environment where teargas is used. On special request, the side windows in the rear were enlarged as well to provide better vision. They are made of polycarbonate and thus fire and impact resistant. As policemen would be able to easily enter and move in the vehicle with all gear, including helmets, the vehicle was made 10 cm higher, meaning the Belgian vehicles are 2.8 m instead of 2.7 m high. Unlike the rear door, which is still manually opened, the side door is pneumatically opened. Further features include run-flat tires, folding wired mesh protection for the front windows and fixed on the sides, and a rapidly removable power-operated light barricade remover mounted on the front. There is also at least one S600 outfitted with a MARS system.

The S600 is seen here fitted with a MARS system. Source: Belgian Federal Police

Within the federal police, the vehicles were formed in APC-teams and attached to the Directorate General Reserve (FR: Direction de la Réserve Générale, NL: Dienst Algemene Reserve). In 2004, this unit was incorporated into the Intervention Corps (FR: Corps d’Intervention, NL: Interventiekorps, combined shortened to CIK). In 2015, a new centralized police support unit was formed, the Directorate of Public Safety (FR: Direction de Sécurité Publique, NL: Directie Openbare Veiligheid). Also known as DAS, this unit currently operates the S600.

Since 2006, the three Benelux countries (Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg) have signed a police treaty that allows the operation of personnel and materiel across their borders. Before signing, that was not allowed, but cooperation was common and an incident from April 2003 has to be noted. In that month, a demonstration took place in Luxembourg by workers from the metallurgical industry. At the time, Luxembourg, a stranger to violent protests, had no armored vehicles nor water cannons to counter the protest. Therefore, an arrangement was signed with Belgium which allowed the deployment of Belgian water cannons and armored vehicles, but due to juridical restrictions, they were only allowed to be operated by Luxembourg policemen and should have Luxembourg registration plates. Multiple S600s were sent, including number 38, which temporarily received the registration A7784, while Luxembourgish crews were hastily trained to be somewhat familiar with the vehicles.

Vehicle 38 in use by the Luxembourg Police in April 2003. It was temporarily equipped with a Luxembourg registration plate, reading A7784. Source: Marcel Dehaeseleer

On 29 September 2020, a tender was placed for a four-year program of modernizing, modifying, and restoring the six vehicles. The deadline was set for 22 October 2020. Somehow, in official publications including this tender, the Shorland is erroneously referred to as ‘Shortland’. The tender indicates that the Belgian S600s are planned to remain in service for some time.

South-Korea: the third customer

Tenix Defence announced in September 2002 that a ‘classified North-East Asian country’ had placed an order for two anti-hijack vehicles. This type of vehicle was not offered before. Apart from the two vehicles, Tenix delivered a comprehensive spare and service equipment package to the customer, which later turned out to be South-Korea.

The two vehicles were bought for use by the 707th Special Mission Battalion (제707특수임무단, since 2019 known as the 707th Special Mission Group), an elite counter-terrorism unit of the Republic of Korea Army Special Forces. The anti-hijack version seems to be developed from the Police ISV, but with smaller side windows, and round openable firing ports under them. Both the rear and right side doors are manually operated. Most notable is the MARS system, installed on the roof and attached to the lifting hooks on the bonnet.

One of the two South-Korean vehicles during a demonstration in 2020. In this case, the MARS is used as a platform for snipers, providing an overview of the situation. Source:
A vehicle during another exercise in June 2019. People are led from the bus into the S600 to be transported away. Source:

Singapore: the fourth customer

In 2005, the Singapore Police unveiled two new S600s that had been acquired for use by the Special Tactics and Rescue unit (STAR) of the Special Operations Command. Both vehicles were painted in a glossy dark blue color, and bear the registration numbers YM4355K and YM4280S. The former is equipped with a light barricade remover, while the latter features a MARS system but are, apart from that, identical. At first glance, the vehicles look similar to the South-Korean anti-hijack version, but the Singapore vehicles feature a right-hand drive system.

In the lower right side of the hull, just behind the driving position and the front wheel, a large air intake is there. This feature is not seen on any other S600s.

Seen here is YM4280S, the one Singapore vehicle that is outfitted with a MARS system. With the driver on the right side, the side door is moved to the left side of the hull. Source: Stormo Rochalie
Vehicle YM4355K is outfitted with a light barricade remover, but it also has the connection parts for the MARS system installed. Notice the grille behind the front wheel, a feature that is not present on any other S600 and probably has to do with the driver’s position being on the right. Also of note is the driver’s door, a feature that is not very common either. The picture was taken in 2013. Source: Police Car Models

The life of the Kuwait series prototype

The pre-series vehicle built to Kuwaiti standards was kept at the factory for driver and maintainer training. This specific vehicle was also heavily used for marketing and demonstrations during various shows and exhibitions in Europe, the Middle East, East Asia, and Australia. This vehicle was also tested by Belgium and Saudi Arabia, among others. With the company’s personnel, this vehicle became affectionately known as ‘Betsy’.

Near the end of the 2000s, the vehicle was long-term leased to the South Australian Police Special Tasks and Rescue Group and repainted white, with a blue-white blocked line along the sides. It received the registration XAH 404. In May 2011, this STAR unit was reinforced with a new Lenco Engineering Bearcat, which reduced the S600 to a second-line vehicle. By 2015, they still used it, but before 2019, it was indefinitely returned to BAE Systems. They donated this vehicle to the National Military Vehicle Museum in Edinburgh Parks on 18 December 2019.

The prototype, also known as Betsy, in Australian police colors. Source left: National Military Vehicle Museum, right: BAE Systems Australia
The vehicle was donated by BAE Systems, represented by David Berrill (former BAE, right), to the National Military Vehicle Museum, represented by Ray Hall (museum workshop manager, left). Note that the additional police equipment has been removed, like the mesh frames protecting the windows, the blue flashing light, and the MARS system connectors. Source: National Military Vehicle Museum

This museum also has a bare S600 hull which was already donated by BAE before 2014. It is not, and probably never was, mounted on a chassis, but probably used for testing or as a production sample in the factory. It is painted in a similar three-tone camouflage scheme as the original BAe Foxhound prototype from 1996. The extruding windows are its most distinctive feature, which is similar to those seen on one of the original Shorts prototype at the time it was shown as a white UN vehicle. The two extensions on top of the bonnet, just below the windows, are only seen with the Kuwaiti vehicles.

The bare hull at the National Military Vehicle Museum was once donated by BAE systems. A full walk-around is posted at the forums. Source: National Military Vehicle Museum

Failed sales

During the late 1990s, Saudi-Arabia intended to buy a large number of armored vehicles, quoted to be up to 1,000, although the initial demand was set for roughly 60-70 vehicles. Their main purpose would be to protect key facilities near Mecca and Medina where yearly, millions of Muslims make a pilgrimage, known as the Hajj. In September 1998, comparative trials were held between the British Alvis Tactica and the Australian Shorland S600. Both Alvis and Tenix declared their designs were chosen because of their versatility. Eventually, Saudi-Arabia opted for the Tactica, of which 261 models were purchased. The S600 was rejected.

Undoubtedly, other countries would have considered or tested the Shorland S600, but to what extent is not publicly known.


The police of Singapore was the last customer for the S600, in 2005. In January 2008, it was announced that Tenix was bought by BAE Systems, the descendant of BAe. This third change of ownership of the production line did not result in the elimination of the project and the S600 was still being offered by 2014. However, by donating the remaining prototype to a museum at the end of 2019, BAE has made it quite clear that they have no interest in offering the vehicle any longer, which is understandable as by then, the design was more than twenty years old.

How long the S600 will remain in service is hard to tell. The Belgian vehicles will likely remain in service for at least ten years, because of their 2020 tender for refurbishment. With over twenty years of service and in their semi-military setting, the Kuwaiti vehicles will probably be replaced first, possibly within the next ten years. The Singapore and South-Korean vehicles fulfill a more specialized role and in that setting will likely remain in use for some time. Jane’s estimated a service time of roughly forty years. Based on BAEs’ current interests in the Defense market, it is very unlikely that they will offer a new design.

Source: Kuwait National Guard
A KNG high-pressure water cannon vehicle, shown at the 2011 GDA Aerospace and Defence Exhibition. It bears registration number 10020. Source: Kuwait National Guard


Compared to its counterparts, the S600 was a strong competitive vehicle, but not a great commercial success, with only 32 vehicles sold. The production was thus very modest compared to, for example, the Alvis Tactica or RG-12. The vehicle itself was good, with a reliable chassis, enough versatility, and good performance. The S600 program suffered from the constant change of ownership, which is one of the main reasons why the vehicle was not sold to more countries. As of 2021, it is believed that all 32 vehicles that were sold remain in service.

This S600 is illustrated as in service with the National Guard of Kuwait and equipped with a high-pressure water cannon. An illustration by Yuvnasvha Sharma, funded by our patreon campaign.


Dimensions (L x W x H) 5.74 x 2.42 x 2.70 m (18ft10in x 7ft11in x 8ft10in)
Combat weight 12.5 tonnes (13.8 US ton)
Crew 1+11
Engine Mercedes-Benz OM-366LA 6-cylinder, 5,958 cc, 660 Nm at 1,400-1,700 rpm, 157 kW (214 bhp) at 2,600 rpm
Gearbox UG3/65, 8 forward, 4 reverse gears
Power to weight ratio 17,1 hp/t
Max. speed 110 km/h (68 mph)
Road range 1,000 km (621 miles) (with extended range fuel tank)
Armament Optional, up to 12.7 mm machine gun or 40 mm mortar
Armor Protection against regular 5.56 mm and 7.62 mm NATO rounds, resistance against shrapnel, and infantry mines
Payload 3,300 kg (7275 lbs)
Wheelbase 3.25 m (10ft8in)
Track width 1.92 m (6ft4in)
Ground clearance 0.44 m (1ft5in)
Fording depth 1.2 m (3ft11in)
Turning circle 15 m (49ft3in)
Gradient 31 degrees
Side slope 31 degrees
Approach angle 40 degrees
Angle of departure 40 degrees


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Armored Car, issue 31, 1995, Royal Navy & British Army Equipment Exhibition 1995, Peter Brown, p.1. PDF.
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BAe Foxhound,
BAE Systems Australia Donation to the Museum, February 2020,
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Defense and Technology 99/8, Saudi Arabia may delay purchasing armored vehicles, p.52. PDF (Korean).
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Politie koopt Australische Pantsers, 31 January 2001,
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Secretary-General, calendar year 2005, 24 July 2006,
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S600 APC back in production, Jane’s Defence Weekly, 4 May 2001.
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United Nations Register of Conventional Arms Report.

Cold War Belgian Prototypes Modern Belgian Armor Modern UAE Armor

Sabiex HIFV, The ‘Golden Unit’

Kingdom of Belgium/United Arab Emirates (2005)
Infantry Fighting Vehicle – 1 Built

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) was the only nation that bought the Italian OF 40 (OTO-Melara/FIAT 40 tonne) tank in the 1980s. They first bought the Mk.1 and were not pleased with the vehicle leading to a further delivery of Mk.2 vehicles and upgrading of the Mk.1 to Mk.2 standard very soon afterwards. Even so, these tanks were not considered mobile enough nor sufficiently well armed by the UAE for their envisaged role in the Middle Eastern battlespace. Ultimately, the UAE was left with an undesired stock of tanks and OF 40 based armored recovery vehicles (ARV’s). The UAE, already operating the much more advanced, better protected, and better armed Leclerc MBT, did not need these older vehicles. Despite rumors of these vehicles being sold to Bosnia-Herzegovina as surplus in the late 1990’s they instead appear to have simply been put into long-term storage in the Gulf nation.
The UAE did, however, operate a number of BMP-3’s which, despite being well armed, were not well armored which led to the search for a suitable replacement for them.

OF 40 Mk.2

OF 40 based Sabiex HIFV showing the substantially altered profile of the vehicle. Source: Al Badie Group

Hull development at Sabiex’s Belgian plant. The hull has been totally stripped off and a new improved mine resistant floor is being added. Old features like the driver’s floor hatch from the OF 40 are eliminated. Source: Al Badie Group

New internal side armor being fitted at the Sabiex plant. Source: Al Badie Group

Sabiex OF 40 based HIFV leaving the Sabiex plant in Belgium – Source:

Sabiex HIFV undergoing trials in Belgium in 2007. Source: Al Badie Group

Sabiex HIFV during trials in Belgium in 2007. The position of the driver gives a good idea of the problems of driving a vehicle with such a large frontal blind spot.

Sabiex HIFV during testing in Belgium in 2007. Source: Al Badie Group


By 2005, a possible new role for the OF 40 tanks was found. The Belgian firm of Sabiex International, based in Tournai, received a €12 million (euro) (US$15.8 million) contract from the UAE to reuse components of the OF 40 during the development and evaluation phase of their own IFV/APC program. Also involved in this joint-venture were the South Technology Company (STC) along with the Al Badie Group (ABG). STC specialise in engineering, upgrading, addition armoring (including landmine protection) and optronics.
The purpose of this new vehicle was to replace the existing UAE BMP-3’s fleet. The result of the STC/Sabiex/ABG venture was something rather unusual. The goal was the construction of a prototype Heavy Infantry Fighting Vehicle (HIFV) which saw one OF 40 shipped to Sabiex in Belgium, dismantled and refurbished. The new prototype vehicle was partially completed in 2007, sufficiently for trails in Belgium to take place. The development work was done by 2010 and the completed vehicle shipped back to the UAE for desert trials. In the UAE, this vehicle is officially known as ‘the Golden Unit’ as a test prototype and, having passed its desert trials, was to then to proceed to 2nd stage development by STC. This further conversion work based on the Sabiex development was planned to take place at the production facilities of ABG in UAE, but had not started by mid-2010.

Sabiex HIFV prototype hull on display. Source: Sabiex

OF 40 MTU power pack reconditioned for use in the Sabiex HIFV. Source: Al Badie Group


The OF 40 was a conventionally laid out tank with the FIAT-built (licensed) Motoren und Turbinen Union MB 838 CA M500 supercharged, liquid cooled, ten-cylinder multi-fuel diesel engine producing 830hp. The engine, transmission and drive were at the rear. The basic dimensions of the original OF 40 hull were retained as was 7 roadwheel layout with each pair of double wheels mounted onto a swing arm and torsion bar with hydraulic shock absorbers at the front and rear wheel stations.
The Sabiex design saw the reversal of the vehicle layout. The original OF 40 MTU type power pack was retained but now sat at the front of the vehicle allowing the rear to be converted for infantry use. Additionally, the placement of the engine in the front of the vehicle allows for additional protection over the frontal arc. This concept has been tried elsewhere with other tanks such as the Centurion in Jordan being reversed and turned into the Temsah. The only modification done in UAE other than adding the BMP-3 turrets appears to be some work on the exhaust louvers which are reduced from 5 to 3.

Sabiex HIFV fitted with BMP-3 turret in the UAE. The modified exhaust louvres can be seen.

Illustration of the Sabiex HIFV, or ‘The Golden Unit’. Produced by Yuvnashva Sharma, funded by our Patreon Campaign.

Close up of the drive sprocket from the Sabiex HIFV also shows the thickness of the front lower plate of the vehicle’s armor.


The vehicle is still made from all-welded steel armor for the hull and Sabiex claim protection is provided to STANAG 4569 level 5 with additional protection against the Russian TM-57 anti-tank mine. Significant additional protection has been added internally with a new inner armored bulkhead providing the whole of the sides with spaced armor. Significant additional protection on the floor of the vehicle is also provided with the elimination of the old driver’s escape hatch in the floor and a new floor put in place. The front lower part of the vehicle appears to be made from an outer layer of ~40 mm thick armor plate, and the nose is assumed to consist of a large section of spaced armor.

Detail of new nose armor which has had the OF 40 headlamps (M60 style) fitted to it. The driver’s digital video camera driving aid can be seen behind it (the small whitish rectangle). Source: Al Badie Group

Front view of the Sabiex HIFV hull in its two-tone desert camouflage pattern. This was later changed to an all- sand-yellow scheme in the UAE


The only information relating to armament is that the prototype was shown fitted with a surplus turret from one of the large number of BMP-3’s operated by the UAE. That BMP-3 turret is fitted with a 100mm 2A70 main gun, a 30mm 2A72 coaxial autocannon, and 7.62mm PKTM coaxial machine gun.
Had the program gone ahead, the Golden Unit would have been one of the most heavily armed and armored HIFV’s in the world.

Drivers station seen from inside, looking towards what used to be the bulkhead between the fighting compartment and the engine bay. A turret is not fitted and the new flooring over the improved mine protected floor can be seen. Source: Al Badie Group

View of the right-hand side of the driver’s position during construction. The front of the vehicle is to the right and not the direction in which the fitter is facing or seated. Source: Al Badie Group


The Sabiex design called for a crew of just two, a driver who sat in the front left of the fighting compartment and a commander/gunner. Without the turret fitted, there is a large central space between the back of the driver and the four infantry seats, which could be used for a variety of purposes but, even with the turret fitted, the four rear seats remain. This would allow for up to 5 additional crew members with one assisting in the crewing of the BMP-3 turret. This would bring the maximum complement up to 2+5 with a turret. Access to the vehicle for the driver is via his own hatch but the infantry accesses the vehicle via the large power-operated rear ramp or the rightwards opening single door within the ramp. A rectangular hatch in the side of the right-hand side of the vehicle and other features include small video cameras at the front and back to assist the driver.

View inside the Sabiex HIFV through the rear boor shows the thickness of the substantially improved floor to be mine resistant. Source: Al Badie Group


Operating without a turret the Sabiex HIFV has a mass of 35,000 kg, and 45,000 kg (45 tonnes) with the BMP-3 turret making it heavier than the OF 40 MBT on which it was based.

Sabiex IFV with BMP-3 turret fitted – Source: Defence Blog

Elevated rear view of the Sabiex HIFV showing the considerable bulk of it. Two of the four infantry seats can be seen folded on the left. Source: Al Badie Group


The program began in 2005 and trials were conducted in Belgium in 2007. Further trials were conducted in 2010 in the UAE with work on converting the remaining OF 40 vehicles scheduled to commence at the ABG production facilities but never did. Following delivery of 436 Leclerc MBT and variants to the UAE from the French firm of Nexter Systems, all remaining OF 40 vehicles are officially withdrawn from service. Only one OF 40 is known to have been modified and the status of the program appears to be canceled. The status of the test vehicle is not known but is assumed to be in storage in the UAE. The Golden Unit as a prototype was successful and if the remaining stock had been converted, the UAE would have had a very well armed HIFV.

Turretless Sabiex IFV during desert testing circa 2010 – Source: Sabiex

IHS Janes
Additional material from Ed Francis

Sabiex HIFV specifications

Dimensions 7 x 3.35 x 2.1 m (hull only)
Total weight Approx. 35 tonnes (hull), 45 tonnes with BMP-3 turret
Crew 2 crew plus 5 infantrymen
Propulsion FIAT-built (licensed) Motoren und Turbinen Union MB 838 CA M500 supercharged, liquid cooled, ten cylinder multi fuel diesel engine producing 830hp
Suspension Torsion bar suspension with hydraulic adjustment
Armament BMP-3 turret available, 100mm 2A70 main gun, 30mm 2A72 autocannon and 7.62mm PKTM machine gun
For information about abbreviations check the Lexical Index