With the ability to self-produce most of the weapons, the South African army is considered the most powerful force in Africa.
The ZT3 Ingwe is a modern South African multi-role laser beam riding anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) manufactured by Denel Dynamics (formerly Kentron). Combining this weapon system with the Ratel 6×6 chassis, South Africa has created a powerful and highly mobile anti-tank vehicle, the Ratel ZT-3.
The Ratel ZT-3 was developed since the Ratel 90 had difficulties with the increasing number of tanks encountered during the Bush Wars. Early production vehicles were rushed to the frontline in 1987 and succesfully engaged T-55 tanks in several operations. The turret is derived from the Ratel 90 or Eland 90 armored car, but features a three round missile launcher and laser tracker system instead of a 90mm gun. Unlike other variants of the Ratel is does not carry an infantry section. Additional ammunition is stored in racks in the rear hull.
The ZT3 and its launch system were developed under the codename “Project Raleigh” in the 1980s as a “long-range indigenous antitank guided missile”. The missile was developed to provide the South African Army’s mechanized infantry vehicles, such as the Ratel IFV, with anti-tank abilities and to supplement the ageing MILAN missile system that was in service at the time.
The missile can engage targets at ranges from 250–5,000 metres (820–16,400 ft). It employs a tandem-charge warhead to defeat up to 1,000 millimetres (39 in) of armour. The missile is also designed to be highly resistant to countermeasures, and uses stealth technology to be harder to detect. On the Ratel three missiles are ready to launch, but only one is fired at a time.
The Ratel 6×6 chassis provides good mobility on roads and in the field. The design is geared towards use in the bush, and mobility in harsh terrain is somewhat limited. The turbocharged diesel engine provides up to 275 hp. Maximum speed on roads is 105 km/h and operational range is 1.000 km.
The armor provides protection against small arms fire and shell splinters from all angles. The missiles are fired from under armour protection. For its survivability the Ratel ZT-3 relies mostly on its good mobility and the stand-off range of its missiles.
The Ratel ZT-3 is in use with South Africa. The Ratel series of wheeled vehicles has been acquired by several other nations, but South Africa is the only user of the ZT-3 variant. First operational use was in 1987 and it remains in service today. In the future it is to be replaced by an ATGM-carrier variant of the Patria AMV, known as Badger in South Africa.