Unicorn APC

The Unicorn is a MRAP used by the Sri Lankan military.


Unicorn APC
Class Vehicle
Type Armoured Fighting Vehicle
Manufacturer Sri Lanka Electrical and Mechanical Engineers
Production Period 1987 - 2000
Origin Ceylon (Sri Lanka)
Country Name Origin Year
Ceylon (Sri Lanka) 1987
Country Name Operational Year Retirement Year
Ceylon (Sri Lanka) 1987 View
ManufacturerName Production From Production To Quantity
Sri Lanka Electrical and Mechanical Engineers 1987 2000 View

Initial research into producing a "Blast Protected Vehicle" armoured personnel carrier was begun in 1983 by a lone Infantry Major named Jayantha de Silva who was concerned by the destruction wrought by Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) that the Tamil rebels began using on military troop transport vehicles. These IEDs became rampant in the north and eastern provinces with the escalation of the Sri Lankan Civil War. The many experiments he carried out showed that explosive force dissipates in proportions to the distance travelled. These led to the production of vehicles based on commercial truck chassis with a strong metal hull about two metres from ground level. These proved so successful that the then Minister for National Security, Hon Lalith Athulathmudali, co-opted all the engineering firms in the country to build the vehicles to the specifications drafted by Major de Silva. The project was then handed over to the Electrical and Mechanical Engineers of the Army.

When the rebels found that their IEDs were ineffective, they stopped using them and the production of these vehicles ceased. The rebels began using them again about two years later, and as the Army found itself short of suitable vehicles, a few consignments of the South African made Buffel vehicles were imported, even though they provided protection only against land mines and proved ineffective against the IEDs. Further development continued in 1985, by both the Sri Lanka Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (SLEME) of the Sri Lanka Army and the General Engineering Wing of the Sri Lanka Air Force Both designs were based on the South African Buffels which had been bought in 1985.

The air force developed its own APC for the SLAF Regiment in small numbers. The SLEME developed the Unicorn Mark I by 1987, which too where produced in large numbers by the SLEME for the Sri Lanka Army and for the other services as well.

A distinct feature of the Unicorn was that the driver-passenger compartment was undivided. According to soldiers in the battlefield, this feature made communication among the two sections easier than that in a Buffel where the driver was separated from the passengers.

Type Armoured personnel carrier
Place of origin Sri Lanka
Service history
In service 1987 - Present
Used by Sri Lanka
Production history
Designer Sri Lanka Electrical and Mechanical Engineers
Manufacturer Sri Lanka Electrical and Mechanical Engineers
Produced 1987 - 2000
Variants Mark I to Mark VI
Specifications
Weight 5.8 t
Length 4.8 m (16.73 ft)
Width 2 m (6.73 ft)
Height 2.6 m (9.68 ft)
Crew 2 + 12 passengers
Armor Classified
Main
armament
Twin 7.62mm MG (front)
Engine Diesel Engine
Suspension 4×4 wheeled
Speed Road 96km/h (59.61 mph)
Off-road 30km/h (18.64 mph)

End notes