Engesa EE-11 Urutu (Pit Viper) History

Engesa (now defunct) of Brazil produced a long-running series of viable armored car solutions for the Brazilian Army, as well as interested foreign parties, for decades. The EE-11 "Urutu" was developed specifically against a Brazilian Army request of the late-1960s which led to a prototype vehicle coming online in 1970 (this product was based on the EE-9 "Cascavel" armored car which was then also under development by the company). In 1974, serial production began and ended in 1987. Its commonality of parts with the EE-9 made it a popular economical purchase worldwide.

As built, the EE-11 showcased a weight of 11,000 kilograms (empty, non-combat load). It exhibited a length of 6.15 meters with a width of 2.65 meters and a height of 2.13 meters. Internally, there was a driver and commander as well as seating for eleven passengers. The engine was fitted to a compartment at the front-right of the hull with the driver at front-left. A turret was emplaced over the middle-front of the hull roof line with the rear of the vehicle hull left for passenger seating. The wheel arrangement was of a typical 6x6 with complete suspension for off-road travel ("Boomerang" double-axle rear drive). Ground clearance was excellent for the time. The axles were divided into a single forward unit and a pair of rear units. Armor protection reached 12mm thickness and a full amphibious capability was possible through some prior equipment preparation by the crew - propulsion being possible by the standard motion of the spinning wheels.

NBC (Nuclear, Biological, Chemical) protection, nightvision, vision blocks / firing ports and powered winch were all optional.

Power to the EE-11 line came from a Detroit Diesel 6V-53T or Mercedes-Benz series (manual or automatic transmission) six-cylinder water-cooled diesel-fueled engine developing 260 horsepower (original production models had 158hp engines) giving the vehicle a maximum road speed of 105 kmh with an operational range out to 850 kilometers.

The EE-11 was produced across seven major variants known simply as Mk I, Mk II, Mk III (212hp engine), Mk IV, Mk V, Mk VI and Mk VII (turbocharged diesel engine).

Variants of the base design have gone on to include a 2 x 20mm / 25mm Anti-Aircraft (AA) mobile platform, standard security / anti-riot vehicle, 81mm/120mm mortar carrier, battlefield ambulance, general cargo-hauler, Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) (with 25mm-equipped turret and ATGM support), command vehicle with additional communications equipment and Fire Support Vehicle (FSV) (with 90mm-armed powered turret).

Operators of the EE-11 currently range from Angola and Bolivia to Venezeula and Zimbabwe. Chile has retired its complete stock. The vehicle has seen combat service in the Chadian-Libyan War (1978-1987), the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988), the Persian Gulf War (1990-1991), the Libyan Civil War (2011) and the Iraqi Civil War (2014-Present). Such is the value of this proven local system that the Brazilian Army has reinstated the design through modernization of the engine and transmission system to bring about a decade or more of service still.

The Urutu name is Brazilian and from the South American pit viper "Bothrops alternatus". The name refers to the markings found on the snake.

The Brazilian Amry plans to succeed its aging stock of Urutu troop transport with the Italian Iveco VBTP-MR "Guarani" wheeled series.

Engesa EE-11 Urutu (Pit Viper) Specification


Engenheiros Especializados SA (Engesa) - Brazil
1,650 Units


- Amphibious

- Anti-Aircraft / Airspace Denial

- Anti-Tank / Anti-Armor

- Engineering

- Infantry Support

- Reconnaissance (RECCE)

- Security / Defense / Law Enforcement / Convoy Escort

- Troop-Carrying

- Utility

- Support / Special Purpose



20.18 ft (6.15 m)


8.69 ft (2.65 m)


6.99 ft (2.13 m)


12 tons (11,000 kg; 24,251 lb)


1 x Detroit Diesel 6V-53T (or Mercedes-Benz) 6-cylinder liquid-cooled diesel-fueled engine developing 260 horsepower.


Maximum Speed:

65 mph (105 kph)

Maximum Range:

528 miles (850 km)

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Variable. Hull supports armament from pintle-mounted 7.62mm and 12.7mm machine guns to 25mm autocannon and 90mm tank-killing turrets.


Dependent upon armament fit.


EE-11 "Urutu" - Base Series Designation

81mm Mortar Carrier - Fire support vehicle

120mm Mortar Carrier - Fire support vehicle

Anti-Riot Vehicle - Smoke launchers; anti-plank fencing.

Armored Personnel Carrier (APC) - Base Model

Armored Recovery Vehicle (ARV) - Sans armament; powered crane and applicable mission equipment.

Battlefield Ambulance - Onboard medical equipment

Command Vehicle - Additional communications equipment fitted.

Fire Support Vehicle (FSV) - 90mm Cockerill Mk III turret.

Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) - 25mm turreted main gun; ATGM launcher installed.

Self-Propelled Anti-Aircraft Artillery (SPAAA) - 2 x 20mm / 25mm autocannons in turret.

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