South African Army Armoured Formation

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South African Army Armoured Formation
SANDF Armoured Formation Emblem
SANDF Army Armoured Formation
Active 1946 - present (SAAC)
Country  South Africa
Branch South African ArmySANDF Army emblem
Type Armor
Role Provides the Army with “battle winning shock action and firepower.”
“To provide combat-ready armour forces to CSANDF.”[1]
Motto Pectore Sicut Ferro (With a chest of steel)
Colors Blue and Orange
Equipment Olifant tank
Rooikat Armoured car
General Officer Commanding Andre Retief
Beret Colour Black
Armour Squadron emblems SANDF Armour squadron emblems
Armour beret bar circa 1992 SANDF Armour beret bar

The South African Army Armour Formation provides an Armour capability to the South African Army. The Formation came into being as part of a restructure. South African Armoured Corps units previously under the command of various different brigades and other formations were all grouped under one formation. All armour is assigned to the SA Army Armour Formation under the charge of a General Officer Commanding.


South Africa employed armoured cars as early as 1915 during its invasion of the then-German South West Africa (now Namibia). After the end of the First World War a single Whippet light tank was purchased for the UDF and was operationally employed during the 1922 Rand revolt. The tank in question is now on display at the Army College at Thaba Tshwane. The formation of an armoured corps was proposed in 1924.3 An armoured car section was formed the next year when two Vickers machine gun-armed Crosleys and two medium tanks were imported from Britain.[2]

During the severe economic depression of 1933, the government established the Special Service Battalion (SSB) on 1 May 1933 as a job opportunities and social upliftment project. The Springbok was first used as symbol for this unit until it was changed to the national flower - the Protea - in July 1934, which is still used today.

Rooikat Armour de Brug

The SSB was converted to an Armoured Car Regiment at the start of the Second World War, and later to a Tank Regiment. In April 1943 the SSB was deployed in North Africa and used a black beret sporting silver proteas as badge and a flash with orange, white and blue as its colours.

When the SA Armoured Corps was officially proclaimed in 1946 and the SSB included in the corps as the only full-time unit, its symbols and colours were incorporated[3]

Olifant mk 2 concentrated fire night shoot de Brug Training Area

On 24 January 2014 the General Officer Commanding (GOC) SA Army Armour Formation, Brigadier General Chris Gildenhuys SM MMM handed over command to Brigadier General Andre Retief SM & Bar MMM at a parade at the Tempe Military Base in Bloemfontein.[4]

Olifant Mk2 AAD2014


The Formation is structured as follows:

Structure SANDF Armour Formation


Tank units

These units are equipped with the Olifant Mk1B or Olifant Mk2 main battle tank.

Regular Force

Reserve Force

Armoured Car Units

These units are equipped with the Rooikat armoured fighting vehicle.

Regular Force

Reserve Force


Tank Variants

Variant Origin/Design Comment Image
Olifant Mark One A  South Africa Main Battle Tank, Service: 1985, Engine: new 750 hp diesel V12 power pack, transmission and automatic gearbox, new coolant system, Weaponry: improved fire control and storage layout for ammunition, Survivalbility: fire extinguishers, Mobility: new track wheels Mineclearing: Both Olifant Mk.1A and B can be fitted with plough-type, electrohydraulic dozer blade, of a roller-type mechanical mineclearing set. The 3.5 m wide dozer blade weighs 1500 kg SANDF Olifant Mark one
Olifant Mark One B  South Africa Main Battle Tank, Service: 1991, Engine: uprated 950hp V-12 air-cooled turbo diesel engine provides increased range, Weaponry: more powerful 105mm L7 cannon with thermal sleeve, laser rangefinder added, 7.62mm general purpose co-axial machine gun and a 7.62mm anti-aircraft machine gun fitted, first gen image intensifier, driver's station equipped with day/night sight, gunner's station fitted with day/night sights, Survivability: glacis plate and nose of the hull upgraded with passive armour, turret stand-off armour, double-armour floor, running gear protected against HEAT missiles by new sideskirts, fuel injection system smoke screen in engine's exhaust added, fire detection and suppression system improved, Mobility: torsion bar running gear, hydraulic dampers fitted to the first and last pair of wheels, maximum road speed of 58km/h and maximum range on internal fuel of 350km, can ford water to a depth of 1.5m, negotiate gradients and slopes of 60% and 30% and vertical obstacles up to 1m in height SANDF Olifant Mark one b
Olifant Mark Two  South Africa Main Battle Tank, Service: 2007, Engine: uprated 1 040 hp Continental diesel engine Weaponry: 105mm L7 cannon, periscopic stabilized day/ thermal gunner sight with laser rangefinder, upgraded ballistic computer added to the fire control system, panoramic commander sight, full solution fire control system, fire on the move and day and night time engagements, ready rounds located in carousel mounted turret basket, allowing fire rate of 10rpm Survivability: modular composite armour sloping on turret and hull front, in case of ammunition ignition, blow-off panels and armoured doors protect the crew SANDF Olifant Mark Two
Olifant Armour Recovery  South Africa SANDF Olifant Tank Recovery
Shongololo Transporter  South Africa MAN trucks SANDF Olifant Transporter

Armoured Car Variants

Variant Origin/Design Comment Image
Rooikat Armoured Car  South Africa Rooikat Mk 1 76mm main gun thermal sleeve encase barrel, 2 7,62mm machine guns, 2 banks of 81mm smoke grenade launchers, run flat tyres, digital fire control with automatic datafor target range, speed, and direction,crosswind speed, weapon tilt. 1000 km range, suspension of internally driven trailing arms, coil springs and shock absorbers Rooikat Mk 2 105mm main gun Rooikat Armoured Car 105mm
General Officers Commanding
From SA Armour Corps To
1946 Unknown n.d.
From SA Armour Formation To
n.d. Brig General Chris Gildenhuys SM MMM 24 January 2014
24 January 2014 Brig General Andre Retief SM & Bar MMM Current


  1. Englebrecht, Leon (20 January 2011). "Fact file: G5 L45 towed gun-howitzer". DefenceWeb. Retrieved 21 January 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Englebrecht, Leon (9 February 2010). "Fact file: The SA Armoured Corps". DefenceWeb. Retrieved 21 January 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Customs, Traditions, History and Insignia" (PDF). SA Armour Association. Archived from the original (PDF) on September 13, 2012. Unknown parameter |deadurl= ignored (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "Sandstone Heritage Trust participates in Change of Command Parade". Sandstone Estates. 24 January 2014. Retrieved 22 January 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links