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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Sri Lanka Military 0204.jpg
A STF Unicorn
TypeArmoured personnel carrier
Place of origin Sri Lanka
Service history
In service1987 - Present
Used by Sri Lanka Army
 Sri Lanka Navy
 Sri Lanka Air Force
Special Task Force
Production history
DesignerSri Lanka Electrical and Mechanical Engineers[1]
ManufacturerSri Lanka Electrical and Mechanical Engineers[1]
Produced1987 - 2000
VariantsMark I to Mark VI
Mass5.8 t
Length4.8 m (16.73 ft)
Width2 m (6.73 ft)
Height2.6 m (9.68 ft)
Crew2 + 12 passengers

Twin 7.62mm MG (front)
EngineDiesel Engine
Suspension4×4 wheeled
Maximum speed Road 96km/h (59.61 mph)
Off-road 30km/h (18.64 mph)

The Unicorn is a MRAP used by the Sri Lankan military based on the Buffel, which is made by the Sri Lanka Electrical and Mechanical Engineers.

Production history

Initial research into producing a "Blast Protected Vehicle" armoured personnel carrier was led by then Major Jayantha de Silva, who was concerned by the destruction and use of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) that the Tamil rebels began using on military troop transport vehicles.[2] 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.

The research led to the production of vehicles based on a TATA commercial truck chassis with a strong metal hull about two metres from ground level in 1983, which was known under the name Yaka.[3][2] It resulted in the backing of then Minister for National Security, Hon Lalith Athulathmudali, who co-opted all engineering firms in Sri Lanka 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[4] and the General Engineering Wing of the Sri Lanka Air Force[5] Both designs were based on the South African Buffels which had been bought in 1985.[6]

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.

Combat History

It was known to be used in the 1990s during the civil war.[7]


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.[4]


There were several models that were developed as a result of continuous upgrading based on combat requirements. These include Unicorn Mark I to Mark VI.

Production continued until 2000 with a total of 93 Unicorns being produced by the SLEME with the Mark VI being produced.[4]

The production of the Mark VI with the exception of the ambulence varient was stopped when the SLEME started producing the more advanced Unibuffel.


See also


  1. ^ a b 59th Independence. Archived 2011-06-05 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved on April 22, 2008.
  2. ^ a b
  3. ^ "New locally made MPV better at withstanding mines: SLEME". The Sunday Times Sri Lanka. Retrieved 2019-03-10.
  4. ^ a b c d "The evolution of the indigenous armoured vehicle: From Unicorn to Unibuffel". 2007-09-30. Archived from the original on 2019-10-10.
  5. ^ Sri Lanka Air Force. Retrieved on April 22, 2008.
  6. ^ Camp & Heitman, p. 239
  7. ^
  8. ^

Further reading

  • Surviving the Ride: A Pictorial History of South African-Manufactured Mine-Protected Vehicles by Steve Camp & Helmoed Römer Heitman
This page was last edited on 12 July 2020, at 17:53
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