Developed by GKN-Sankey as a private venture in the 1980s which today is BAE Systems Land Systems, the Simba is a wheeled armoured personnel carrier was designed as a light armored vehicle for a low profile internal security roles.

The Philippines has long been a significant source of Islamist extremism in Southeast Asia. The most active terrorist groups in the Philippines are mostly Islamic armed organizations, including the Abu Sayyaf rebel group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the Bangsamoro Islamic Liberation Movement and Jemaah Islamiyah.

In May 2017, an armed conflict was taking place in Marawi, Lanao del Sur between Philippine government security forces and militants of the Maute and Abu Sayyaf Salafi jihadist groups. The five-month-long armed conflict also became the longest urban battle in the modern history of the Philippines.

GKN Simba of Philippines

In order to regain control, as well as repel the rebel forces, the Philippine Army mobilized many soldiers and military equipment to the Marawi city. Among them Armored vehicles play an important role, these include M113 APC, V-150 Commando, Textron V300, KM-450 military truck, GKN Simba APC, etc.

Philippines wrapped paperboard for anti-IS armored vehicles
Philippines wrapped paperboard for anti-IS armored vehicles

Developed by GKN-Sankey as a private venture in the 1980s which today is BAE Systems Land Systems, the Simba is a wheeled armoured personnel carrier was designed as a light armored vehicle for a low profile internal security roles. It was developed specifically for the export market and capable of being fitted with a variety of armament installations to meet different operational requirements.

GKN became known in the 1950s by making the family of tracked armored personnel carriers FV 432, which was replaced in the 1980s by the Warrior range of infantry combat tracked armored vehicles.

The only country to purchase the Simba was the Philippines, who bought around 150 vehicles during the 1990s, to be assembled in kits locally at a facility at Subic Bay. Malaysia looked into acquiring the type, but selected the Belgian SIBMAS family instead. This vehicle is no longer marketed.

The Simba is a wheeled armoured personnel carrier designed by GKN Sankey.
The Simba is a wheeled armoured personnel carrier designed by GKN Sankey.

Basically, the design of the Simba has many similarities with Saxon APC. It is an 11 ton light armored vehicle equipped with four large rubber-tired, run-flat road wheels. The driver is seated conventionally front-left with the powerpack to his right and a passenger cabin aft of the driver. The overall dimensions of the vehicle include a length of 5.53m along with a width of 2.5m and a height of 2.19m. Its crew consisted of a driver and a gunner, the extended cabin section allows the vehicle a hauling capabilities for as many as ten infantry, but a more comfortable load is 8. Troops enter or leave the vehicle via side or rear doors. The driver has a separate roof hatch and is protected by bullet-proof screens.

GKN Simba with 25mm cannon
GKN Simba with 25mm cannon

The hull of the Simba is of all-welded steel armour construction that provides the occupants with protection from 7.62 mm ball small arms fire and shell splinters. Simbas in Philippine Army service are fitted with an air-conditioning system, due to the tropical climate of the country. A wide range of optional equipment can be fitted to the vehicle including a front-mounted winch and various weapon systems as well as communications systems.

Vehicle is powered by a Perkins 210 Ti diesel turbo charged intercooler engine, developing 210 brake horsepower. The air inlet louvres on the lower front glacis plate and the outlet on the upper side of the glacis plate to the right rear of the driver’s position. The vehicle is suspended across all four wheels and features a road speed of 100 km/h with an operational range of 660 km.

Filipino soldiers entered many parts of the city of Marawi
Filipino soldiers entered many parts of the city of Marawi

The basic Simba 4×4 can be configured to suit many military and paramilitary functions, from an armored personnel carrier, to a fire support vehicle, mounting a 90 mm gun in a turret. The majority of Simba’s are fitted with a one man turret with a 12.7mm M2HB heavy machine gun mounted in an angular and hexagonal small turret, this turret is placed on a support whose base has a hexagonal shape in the center of the roof of the vehicle. Some vehicles were fitted with a one-man turret armed with a 25mm cannon and a co-axial 7.62mm General-purpose machine gun. Additionally the infantry may use their personnel weapons through the firing ports in the sides and rear.

GKN Simba plays an important role in the Philippine government's war on terror
GKN Simba plays an important role in the Philippine government’s war on terror

A large periscope is placed at the front on the upper part, as well as smaller ones on the flanks of the 360 degrees turret. A series of four smoke grenades are placed at the left and right rear of the turret and directed in different directions.

These Simba vehicles have seen action from anti-insurgency campaigns against rebels in the north and central part of the country and have dealt with terrorists in counter-terrorism campaigns in the southernmost provinces in the island of Mindanao. During the Battle of Marawi the Philippine Army used wooden planks as improvised spaced armor for their Simbas.

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