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Paramount's Marauder protected vehicle has become a TV star. In the premier show in the latest series of BBC's cultural icon Top Gear, co-host Richard Hammond drove the Marauder over cars, through walls, through a McDonalds in Johannesburg and through a pride of lions, after which the TG team tried to blow it up.(insert obvious Internet meme here)Quite the PR coup for South Africa's Paramount. At the LAAD show in Rio de Janeiro in April, I had a chance to talk to Paramount CEO John Craig about the fast-growing company's plans. A few highlights:The mine/blast-resistant Marauder and the Matador personnel carrier are in production in Baku, Azerbaijan (a follow-on order was announced in May) and the company is collaborating with the United Arab Emirates to set up a plant there to serve the Middle East market. The bigger 6X6 Mbombe is likely to be marketed the same way. Under an agreement with India's Ashok Leyland, Paramount is chasing the Indian market -- with Paramount-designed vehicles tailored to local defense and security requirements -- and also offering a low-cost Marauder option with Ashok Leyland running gear. You can also, Craig says, get the up-market Marauder with a MAN diesel and ZF transmission, or a Cummins/Allison version if you want commonality with US vehicles. Another Paramount line of business involves ex-South African AF Mirage F1AZs. Through Aerosud (in which Paramount has a 19 per cent stake), Paramount refurbishes and updates the French fighters and has supplied them to Congo-Brazzaville and Gabon, together with a complete turnkey training, maintenance and spares package. Paramount has "the world's largest supersonic private air force", Craig says. The company offers a package to support peacekeeping forces working under contract to the United Nations and African Union. Mostly from African states, these forces often don't have the equipment and logistics required to deploy outside their home country. Paramount arranges finance for the new equipment, and gets paid back from UN and AU payments to the participating country. Expect more news from Paramount soon.
ar99, paramount, SouthAfrica
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