“Iron Angels” of Azerbaijani Army: Marauder and Matador
Over the past 20 years, armed conflicts around the world, combined with the growing threat of land mines and improvised explosive devices (IEDs), have increased the demand for armoured vehicles offering enhanced ballistic and land mine protection.
The Ministry of Defense Industry (MDI) of Azerbaijan, which launched a project to localise the production of such armoured vehicles in 2010, has started joint production of Matador and Marauder mine-protected armored vehicles produced by Paramount Group, a global defence industrial company.
The Marauder and Matador armoured vehicles, which have been battle proven by the armies of different countries, demonstrated their high performance during the 5-day war between Azerbaijan and Armenia in April of 2016, in an explosion at an ammunition depot in Gilazi in 2017, as well as during Azeri military operations launched on September 27, 2020.
In recent days, in a video posted on social networks it was reported that in the Gubadli region, a Marauder detonated two anti-tank mines under the wheels of the vehicle, but despite the large explosion, the personnel escaped unharmed. As can be seen from the footage, only the vehicle’s tires and suspension system were damaged during the explosion. The hull, engine and other parts of the vehicle were not damaged at all.
This and other footage taken from the frontlines of the conflict have proven that on the battlefield, the Marauder and Matador vehicles provided high levels of protection for their pesonnel against land mines, enemy fire, shrapnel from exploding artillery and mortar shells.
The performance of both armored vehicles is highly valued by the Azerbaijani military. According to experts, the positive results achieved during the battles and their superior characteristics compared to other armored vehicles will allow for the continuation of serial production of both vehicles in future.
The production of Marauder and Matador vehicles is one of the first projects that the Azerbaijan military-industrial complex carried out jointly with internationally renowned technology and manufacturing company, Paramount Group. Since 2011, both armored vehicles produced in Azerbaijan have undergone some modifications as compared to the base version.
The Marauder and Matador vehicles have been successfully deployed to various challenging and extreme environments across Africa, the harsh and unforgiving tempratures of the Middle East, and the bitterly cold and sub zero regions of Eurasia. These vehicles are part of a very small group of armored vehicles in the world that have been tested in all climates and territories patrolled by armed forces. According to company officials, the requirements of modern combat operations were taken into account when designing and developing the Marauder and Matador. Key considerations when designing the vehicles included high levels of protection, interoperability and cost-effectiveness. In order to exceed high safety requirements, a number of innovative solutions have been applied in production to provide the best protection against small arms, improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and anti-tank mines.
The use of common components in the Marauder and Matador allows for the optimisation of the repair and maintenance costs of both vehicles. The vehicles are designed with a modular approach in order to enhance operation, maintenance and repair, allowing the vehicles to be quickly repaired and modified for desert conditions.
Both the Marauder and Matador can be transported on the C-130, IL-76, ANT-124 “Ruslan”, on A-400M “Atlas” military cargo planes, or by “Chinook” and Mi-26 helicopters, and via road and rail.
Through the portable production model of Paramount Group, the Marauder, which features a rigid hull and high levels of protection and agility, is produced in South Africa, Jordan, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan with local partners. A winterized variant of the Marauder is operational in Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan (locally, it’s called the Arlan).
The Marauder is designed to carry up to 2,500 kilograms of payload and personnel. In addition to transporting personnel, the vehicle can be equipped with various types of combat systems. The Arlan configuration for the Kazakhstan Armed Forces is equipped with combat systems manufactured by ASELSAN.
The Marauder can be configured as a wheeled combat vehicle for a wide variety of missions, including border patrol, command and control, communications, surveillance and reconnaissance, ambulance, personnel carrier, as well as combat missions. The interior of the vehicle can accommodate a driver, commander and eight fully equipped soldiers.
The double skin monocoque hull of the Marauder protects it from the impact of land mines, bullets and shrapnel. The interior of the vehicle is equipped with special seats that reduce the impact of land mine explosions. The ballistic protection complies with Level 3 NATO STANAG 4569 standards for the personnel compartment, Level 1 of STANAG 4569 standards for the protection of the engine compartment, and STANAG 4569 3a and 3b levels for the protection of the vehicle against landmine explosions. The body’s double armour protects personnel from kinetic attacks. It is possible to further strengthen the protection with additional armour.
In the tests conducted and during operations on the battlefield, as mentioned earlier in the article, the Marauder was proven to withstand landmine explosions of up to 8 kg of TNT under the hull, up to 14 kg of TNT under the wheels, and a side blast of 50 kg of TNT representing a roadside bomb or IED.
The Marauder’s double skin monocoque hull with a kerb weight of 13,500 kg, is designed in a V-shape.
The Marauder armored vehicle is equipped with a 6-cylinder ISBe 4 300 diesel engine manufactured by Cummins, featuring 3000 SP automatic transmission with 6 forward and 1 reverse gears from Allison, a BT600 gearbox, front and rear axles provided by Axletech. The maximum speed of the vehicle is 110 km/h, the travel range is 700 km and the turning radius is 16.5 meters.
With a length of 6,600 mm, a width of 2,600 mm, a height of 2,730 mm and a height of 490 mm from the ground, the Marauder can operate in water levels of up to a depth of one meter, and overcome 850mm wide trenches and vertical obstacles to a height of 500 mm.
The Marauder features an ABC braking system, pneumatic disc brakes, centralised tire inflation system (CTIS), navigation and combat control systems. Depending on the requirement, the vehicle can also be equipped with nuclear, bacteriological and chemical (NBC) protection systems.
The 4×4 multi-role Matador armored vehicle is designed to carry out various combat support missions, including personal carrier, communications, border patrol, command and control and ambulance. The ability to change its weapon systems further enhances its multi-role capability. The weapon systems options include a 14.5 mm KPVT or 12.7 mm NSVT machine gun.
The Matador is equipped with a 6-cylinder ISBe 4 300 diesel engine manufactured by Cummins, an Alison 3000 SP automatic transmission with 6 forward and 1 reverse gears (or ZF-12 transmission), a BT600 gearbox, and front and rear axles provided by Axletech.
With a maximum speed of 120 km/h, a turning radius of 18 meters and a road range of 700 kilometers, the Matador is designed to overcome water obstacles up to a depth of one meter, 850 mm wide trenches and vertical obstacles up to a height of 500 mm.
The vehicle’s body length is 7279 mm, width is 2480 mm, height is 2787 mm, and its kerb weight is 13400 kg, with a payload capacity of 2600 kg. It can accommodate 12 fully equipped soldiers. Although the Matador is offered in configurations of 4×4 and 6×6, user countries, including Azerbaijan, have opted for the 4×4 configuration.
The mine resistant Matador features a double-skin monocoque hull to protect it against the impact of land mines, bullets and shrapnel. The ballistic protection of the personnel compartment complies with Level 3 NATO STANAG 4569 standards, the ballistic protection of the engine compartment complies with Level 1 STANAG 4569 standards, and the protection against land mine explosions complies with STANAG 4569 standards, 4a and 4b levels (14 kg of TNT under the hull, 21 kg under the tyre, and a 50 kg TNT roadside bomb or IED). Depending on customer requirements, the protection levels can be increased with additional armour.
To reduce the impact of land mine explosions, the vehicle’s body is designed in a V-shape, as with other MRAPs. Explosion-proof seats protect personnel from the impact of land mine explosions and other attacks. To protect against explosions, the engine, transmission and fuel tank are located far from each other, and are armoured separately.
Depending on the customer requirements, the Matador can also be equipped with nuclear, bacteriological and chemical (NBC) protection systems.
Both the Marauder and Matador armoured vehicles have been tried and tested by the Azerbaijani Armed Forces across diverse environments and on the battlefield. The vehicles have proven their reliability in real battles.
This, in turn, demonstrated that Paramount Group, the manufacturer of high-tech solutions, is a reliable partner of Azerbaijan. The results achieved in these real battles also proved that the protection of personnel and the philosophy of ‘soldier survivability’ is at the core of Paramount Group’s design and manufacturing approach.
The Marauder and Matador have proven themselves as armoured vehicles, not only for today, but for the future and stand out as platforms offering high levels of protection, maneuverability and cost-effectiveness.