IAG Debut the latest RILA Xtreme 4x4 MRAP at IDEF’21

IAG General Manager Alper ALPAY discusses IAG’s serial production and R&D activities in pandemic conditions and shares details about the company’s new vehicles such as RILA Xtreme 4x4 and RILA 8x8 Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) to our readers.

Date: Issue 109 - August 2021

Defence Turkey: Established in 1996, International Armored Group (IAG) has 25 years of experience specializing in the fields of design, engineering, prototyping and manufacturing of armored commercial and tactical vehicles. Could we start our interview with a brief summary of IAG's current position in the global armored vehicles market and its footprint?

Alper ALPAY: International Armored Group has steadily grown over the last 2 decades and solidified its position as a world leader in the design, engineering and manufacturing of armored vehicles.  Our portfolio includes over 90 different armored vehicle models and most recently we have added 8x8 vehicles to our product line. We operate four manufacturing facilities worldwide located in the US, Turkey, UAE and Bulgaria enabling us to meet global demand.

Defence Turkey: What is IAG’s capacity for production of armored vehicles in total across all its facilities?

Alper ALPAY: With the most recent expansion of our Turkey facility and the addition of our Bulgarian facility, IAG is able to manufacture over 250 armored vehicles per month. 

Defence Turkey: Could you tell us about your customer portfolio?

Alper ALPAY: IAG mainly supplies armored vehicles to Government, Military, Law Enforcement and United Nations missions worldwide. We also have private institutional clients and NGOs which comprise a smaller portion of our contracts. 

Defence Turkey: How was your company affected by the COVID-19 outbreak in this period, when many global problems were experienced in defense projects? What can you say about the delays in your activity plans/programs? How and to what extent did COVID-19 affect your local and international programs, especially the production and supply chain?

Alper ALPAY: Like everyone across the globe, we too were affected by the pandemic. The uncertainty and the volatile circumstances that rippled across the business sector and defense manufacturing in particular were felt widely in our industry. IAG’s core responsibility at the time was to ensure the safety and well-being of our staff and of course of clients, so we took immediate measures to adhere to all guidelines mandated by local governments and health departments of the countries we operate in. By the second half of 2020, we started to notice the effects of the pandemic and one of the first challenges we faced was restrictions related to travel hindering our employees and clients from interacting in person. With the various restrictions and travel bans it was a huge challenge to have clients visit our facilities, as well as repatriate our employees who had been out of the country before the restrictions came into effect. We also felt the pandemic effect on the supply side with many of our suppliers, especially the ones located in the countries that were hit the hardest by the pandemic, such as Italy.  The trickle-down effect led to a lot of material delays which in turn affected our delivery commitments to clients.  

Defence Turkey: What can you tell our readers about IAG's Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle solutions? Could you inform us about the ballistic and mine protection capabilities it provides to the user? What can you tell us about the certification processes? 

Alper ALPAY: IAG first developed the Guardian Xtreme MRAP in 2019. This vehicle was our first STANAG 4569 certified MRAP vehicle and since attaining this certification, the Guardian Xtreme MRAP went on to become one of our most coveted and preferred products gaining lots of admiration and demand across the globe. The Guardian Xtreme is the lightest in its class, worldwide, having the highest horsepower per ton ratio. 

IAG used the pandemic as an opportunity to focus on R&D and launching new vehicle solutions. As such, in 2020, we started working on our new class of military vehicles, the RILA, named after the highest mountain in Bulgaria. The RILA 4x4 Xtreme MRAP vehicle successfully passed STANAG 4569 AEP 55 Vol.1 Level 3 ballistic test. Due to the pandemic we had to postpone the vehicle blast testing, however I am happy to report that the STANAG 4569 AEP 55 Vol.2 Level 4a/4b tests are scheduled to be completed in August/September of this year. 

Additionally, IAG launched the very first version of the RILA 8x8 Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) which was unveiled at the IDEX 2021 exhibition in Abu Dhabi earlier this year. The second version of the 8x8 is scheduled to complete full STANAG 4569 testing by the end of 2021. 

Defence Turkey: IAG also provides low-profile armoring solutions for civilian/commercial vehicles used as VIP transports without compromising the appearance of the vehicles. The most well-known of these vehicles is the Toyota Land Cruiser 200 series. Could you inform us about the ballistic protection level of these vehicles after the armoring process?

Alper ALPAY: The Toyota Land Cruiser 200 is indeed the flagship of our low profile, concealed armored vehicles range. In addition to IAG’s VR7, CEN B4, B5, B6 and B7 models, in 2019 we successfully tested and achieved the STANAG 4569 AEP 55 Vol.2 Level 2a certification on the Toyota Land Cruiser 200 by testing a 6kg TNT mine threat under the tire. 

In March 2021 Toyota International made the announcement that they intend to stop the production of the celebrated 200 series and will be replacing it with the all-new Toyota Land Cruiser 300 series model. Being one of the first armoring companies to receive a batch of all new 300 series in mid-July, IAG has already completed the development and production of our first set of B6 TLC 300 vehicles. The TLC 300 series is also in final stages of development for the VR7 certification which we aim to be fully certified in September 2021. IAG has thus become the first company in the world to develop an armor solution for the all-new Toyota Land Cruiser 300 series and hopefully to also first to achieve the VR7 certification on the new platform. As phase two, we are working on the development of a TLC 300 VR9 design which we hope to have certified by the end of the year.    

Defence Turkey: Could you inform us about your ballistic glass production capabilities and their protection levels?

Alper ALPAY: The Transparent Armor System which is the ballistic glass and frame systems production arm of IAG, and it is growing stronger every year.  By obtaining new certificates, TAS now is able to manufacture ballistic glass meeting all internationally recognized protection levels such as EN1063, NIJ, UL752 and STANAG 4569.

Defence Turkey: What can you tell us about IAG's participation in the IDEF-21 Fair? How many products will you bring to the exhibition? Will you introduce new products at the fair?

Alper ALPAY: We are participating with three vehicles. Our well-known Jaws Armored Personnel Carrier, our fully certified Guardian Xtreme MRAP and the latest RILA Xtreme 4x4 MRAP. 

Defence Turkey: Is there a message that you would like to convey to our readers?

Alper ALPAY: I would like to thank Defence Turkey Magazine for the opportunity, and we look forward to seeing your readers at IDEF 2021. You can find us at Hall 2, stand 229B. Please stop by to learn more about IAG and our products