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The Panther Command and Liaison Vehicle


The Panther Command and Liaison Vehicle has always been somewhat of a controversial vehicle.

The requirement for a Ferret replacement was articulated in the Future Family of Light Armoured Vehicles (FFLAV) and after that was cancelled in favour of MRAV and TRACER the leftover command and liaison requirement was left dangling. It would emerge in 2001 as the Future Command and Liaison Vehicle (FCLV)

November 2003 saw the contract award to Alvis Vickers for 401 UK specific Iveco Lince LMV vehicles at a cost of £166 million.

We are pleased to announce that the Ministry of Defence has today signed a contract worth £166 million (including VAT) with Alvis Vickers Ltd, for the manufacture of the Future Command and Liaison Vehicle (FCLV).

The FCLV will perform the command and liaison role and replace the ageing and disparate vehicle fleet within the manoeuvre support brigades comprising elements of the 430 Series, Saxon, Land Rover and Combat Vehicle Reconnaissance (Tracked) fleets. From its planned in-service date of 2006, the FCLV will provide levels of crew protection and mobility commensurate with their roles in an increasingly extended ground manoeuvre area. It will offer protection against small arms, blast and anti-personnel mines.

The contract was for 401 vehicles into two versions, 326 Group 2 with a self defence weapon and target acquisition and surveillance system and 75 fitted for but not with. The remote weapon system was to be be an AEI Ordnance Enforcer.

Planned In service date was 2007 although it would not enter service until 2008, the delays resulting in issues discovered during trials.

The competition was very controversial because the shortlisted vehicles did not actually include the Panther (Iveco LMV). The original vehicles considered were the RG32M from Vickers, Hunting Engineering with the ACMAT VRBL Ranger, Alvis Scarab, Iveco with their Puma and NP Aerospace with an armoured Land Rover


Alvis Scarab
Alvis Scarab
Iveco Puma
Iveco Puma

It was originally claimed that the vehicles would be manufactured in the UK but this proved to be not the case as only modifications to the base vehicle were made in the UK. Many thought the RG32M would be the certain winner but the Iveco was inserted into the bid process after final shortlisting has closed with the final three vehicles being the LMV, RG32 and ACMAT VLRB Ranger.

The MoD even awarded a £1.5m risk reduction contract to Hunting Engineering, Alvis and Vickers in 2001 with no LMV in sight.

It is interesting to speculate on the relative contribution to casualty rates in Iraq if the Panther was in fact not selected but the much cheaper and survivable RG32, for example, was. It was also reported that one of the acquisition members of staff at the MoD subsequently went to work for Iveco in a repeat of the familiar revolving doors scenario between industry and the MoD.

Panther and Jackal
Panther and Jackal

Given the general unsuitability of the Panther Command and Liaison Vehicle for operations in Iraq a number of Bulldogs were fitted with Remote Weapon Stations from the Panther programme in 2006.

BAe were awarded a £28 million contract in 2007 for support services on the Panther vehicle, to provide better availability and lower costs. The Panther is reported to be a maintenance intensive vehicle with very poor availability.

Panther was not planned to go to Afghanistan but the embarrassment would have been too great so after an extensive TES package costing £20 million for 67 vehicles it was deployed to Afghanistan in 2009. This package included an additional roof hatch, ECM equipment, rear view camera a new engine intake and additional armour.

On face value it looks like Panther was selected in a controversial process, has sub optimal reliability, protection and mobility, fulfills its core role with issues, is far too small inside and cost a fortune.

If you really want to be depressed, scan down the diagram below and look at the OSD

MRV(P) Indicative Strategy
MRV(P) Indicative Strategy

Surely this is some mistake?

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48 Responses

  1. Panther cost something like £400k per, before all the TES updates. MRV-P is required to cost less than £250K per. While the £400k price of Panther can be seen as extravagant for the light armoured truck it is (out of interest does anyone have the price for Italian Army Lince vehicles? Just wondering), for the money MOD is expecting to pay for their protected MRVs they aren’t necessarily going to be a step forward in capability. And as that seems to be the only replacement being considered, perhaps running Panther for an extended time isn’t significantly worse than replacing it ASAP?

  2. The OSD for the Panther of 2037 is perfectly reasonable as the will suffer little wear and tear during the next 22 years as they will spend most of their time up on the ramps being repaired or awaiting for spares :-) After all, spending £166m + £28m + £20m = £214m for 401 vehicles is getting into FRES territory for an off the shelf design ,so make to make it palatable for the bean counters the OSD has to be this far ahead for them to amortise the initial costs at a reasonable rate without it looking stupid which it is ! At leastsomeone got a good job out of it and that’s what matters most isn’t it :-(

  3. I’m a bit surprised that Foxhound is slated with such an early OSD, considering how it’s touted as being advanced, modular and futureproof (in articles I’ve read). Have I been misinformed? Or is it possible that a Foxhound derivative could actually be the MRV-P (maybe it’s too small).
    Also I am really surprised that RWMIK is still there. I thought Jackal was a replacement? Is it a cost thing?
    Interesting article, thanks

  4. Yes, very interesting article, TD. I do remember very well Panther (Iveco LMV) not being in the shortlist. I can’t remember whether many people thought that the RG32M would be the certain winner. The Alvis Scarab, a good vehicle, was certainly fancied by many in the Army. However, Panther, which was not fancied, turned out to be the surprise winner and it created more than a little bit of a stir.

    I really don’t want to take this thread off topic but it is intriguing to see the out-of service date for the MRV(P) – 2040 and beyond. Now I have just read a report that the US Marines have been somewhat dissatisfied with the JLTV in terms of amphibious operations. Testing has led to its size and deployability being questioned. Apparently, added time is necessary to deploy the JLTVs and their large visual signature and slow manoeuvre time from ship to shore would militate against the element of surprise and would leave units vulnerable to threats. As the MRV(P) would presumably be used by our rapid deployment forces, including the Royals, does that mean, do you think, that the MRV(P) programme, which is obviously needed, might be divided into two size categories, large and small?

  5. MikeW – ref large & small MRV – by my back-of-envelope sums, £250k buys a basic 7t armoured vehicle (if comms weapons ECM sensors etc are within this price then the weight category is reduced considerably). To put 7t armour into context, unarmoured Supacat HMT (unarmoured version of Jackal) is 7t. That’s an open-topped truck. CVR(T) Spartan was 9t, lightly armoured and had seats for 4 dismounts – bear in mind the Human Factors requirement now insists much bigger volumes for bigger people, so a new Spartan would have to be a bigger vehicle by some margin. Oh, and Panther is 6.5t and has room for I believe just three soldiers including driver & commander. Do you really want a smaller version yet?

  6. The Alvis Scarab looks good, but the IVECO/OTO-Melara Puma 4X4 looks more “tactical” and there is a 6X6 version available. The Panther looks like a commercial “Hummer” without the big tires. Is the RG31 the armored Land Rover?

    Nothing like buying a bunch of different vehicles with no commonality, is there?

  7. Chris

    Thanks for the reply.

    Seeing it in that light, I suppose, the prospects for a lighter vehicle do not look all that good. And the Multi-Role Vehicle is defined as being protected. I was merely pointing out the difficulties of getting a fairly heavily armoured vehicle to perform for rapid deployment forces such as 3 Commando Bde and 16 Air Assault Bde. I don’t know how heavy the JLTV is but presumably. if a similar vehicle is chosen for MRV(P), then difficulties akin to those already found by the US Marines will arise. Getting heavy vehicles on and off ships is not easy. Apparently the USMC Testers explained that the issues were caused by the JLTV’s overall larger size (vehicle suspensions are dropped so they can better fit in amphibious ships) and “delays that occur while awaiting suspension mode, and other vehicle adjustments” such as adjusting tyre pressure. I would imagine that some similar difficulties would arise with loading and unloading helicopters.

    Perhaps 3 Commando Bde and 16 Air Assault Bde need a different vehicle altogether. If so, would it be unarmoured?

    Is it just a trick of my memory or do I remember reading somewhere some years ago that the MOD were, in fact, originally looking at two weight categories of vehicle for MRV(P)?

  8. @Mike W
    ‘Perhaps 3 Commando Bde and 16 Air Assault Bde need a different vehicle altogether.’

    3 Cdo have viking and we tend to not drop vehicles larger than a Pinzgauer. If we did want to give 16 AAB a vehicle could we not use Foxhound or Viking rather than a wholly new vehicle in limited numbers?

  9. The OSD for Panther does seem odd, considering it was withdrawn from Herrick as soon as enough Husky, Wolfhound etc were available due to their better carrying capacities.

    The trouble with the Panther (apart from the way it was shoe horned into the selection process) is that it needed a fully armoured cargo area to house the Bowman system (which was a known at the time surely) so as to keep it secure and allow access during use. It is this and the small payload that has reduced the vehicles usefulness in the British army.

    I believe all the RG32M had a design that allowed this and still be capable of carrying some dismounts, go figure!

  10. DN, the current version of Lince has 40cm more available internal height as the roll bar has been replaced by added strength in the main structure (can be dropped upside-down at 7g without crushing) could have averted many of the problems brought about by the UK specific spec addons.

    With”air assault” we should not exclude air-landed assets. Foxhound in patrol version, why not, but do we still have any of those 50-60 new build CVR t’s – or did they all end up in Latvia?

  11. David Niven

    Thanks for the reply.

    “If we did want to give 16 AAB a vehicle could we not use Foxhound or Viking rather than a wholly new vehicle in limited numbers?”

    Yes, I suppose that would be one sensible solution. Save money too.

    I also take the point about the RG32. I did not know about its specifications when I wrote an earlier comment.


    I think we still have the “new-build” CVR(T)s. They would be ideal to accompany 16 Air Assault Bde, if we can afford to keep ’em. However, we know what the the Treasury is like, don’t we?

  12. Yes…generous!

    The gifting of the UORs capital value was buried in the small print of the equipment plan. How long has that been outstanding (as it is by no means small change)

  13. “ . . . It was also reported that one of the acquisition members of staff at the MoD subsequently went to work for Iveco in a repeat of the familiar revolving doors scenario between industry and the MoD.”.

    If anything deserved an “Inquiry”, this would be it !!

    (What has happened to our security “arithmetic test” ?)

  14. RCT(V) – as I understand the rules, someone departing MOD is not permitted to work on the same project or similar or closely related projects in the same domain for a defined ‘cool-down’ period. But they are allowed to go to companies that might have been advantaged by their MOD decisions provided they work on something different. And of course their intimate programme knowledge would not be made available to the company as that would be immoral, wouldn’t it.

  15. Two questions if I may:

    1. where and when is this strategy from?

    2. is MRV-P a substitute or re-branding of FRES UV?

  16. MRV-P is not FRES-UV, both are still separate requirements. Last I heard MRV-P was basically for a light infantry and logistics vehicle akin the JLTV; given the size of the Army (and possible shrinkage) and the number of Jackals, Husky’s and Foxhounds I can’t help but thinking it is less of a priority than FRES-UV.

  17. Hohum, I think your description is bang on. quotes from LM:

    ” Lockheed Martin is also offering its solution to the British Army MRV-P (Multi Role Vehicle – Protected) currently in the concept phase. Although some roles might be fulfilled by vehicles already in service or on order under UORs, Lockheed Martin considers that there is still a requirement for further protected utility vehicles. The company is convinced that the new JLTV price would fit the British programme scheme to the extent of actually taking an American-standard JLTV to Britain.”

    That new price is $ quarter of a million, with add-on armour 20% extra. The availability of Husky and Foxhound in numbers might even negate the latter need (while it would remain a UOR option, MOTS).

  18. ACC,

    I admire Lockheed’s optimism, I can’t recall how many of each are still around but the MoD has acquired 400 Foxhounds, 351 Huskies and over 500 Jackal derivatives; that’s 1,250 very mobile protected 4x4s. Next to the Ridgebacks and Mastiffs (none of which have independent suspension as I understand it) the medium elements are rolling around in that fleet looks positively outstanding.


    For me it always be FRES; the same drawn out effort to replace vehicles first designed in the 50s and 60s.

  19. TD

    There are cynics like me out there who recon that when king William the 5th is buried, part of his procession being Black Rod White Rod, Dragon King of Arms etc, will be a General in full regalia announced sombrely as General Smithers Hereditary head of the FRES program… Which one day will produce wizz bang new armoured vehicles for the British Army…. Actually the way we are going the British army will be following behind him- all 12 of them.

  20. Hohum,

    I agree, they just started a ball rolling for something still in the concept stage.

    Before Iraq& al started, an order for G Wagens (3000) had been pencilled in, to replace Landies.

    If the army has shrunk & still will continue by a total of a third, that would make it 2000. Write off one in five from your total, leaves a residual of a thousand. The MoD will want something extra anyway, so let’s make dollars £s.

    That will be £250m, pls.

    Peanuts compared to SV, Warrior and UV (the number of the last mentioned still TBC)?

  21. ACC,

    It might still be G-Wagons. The Army needs to work out (and may have done already but just not told anyone) what portion of that fleet needs to be all singing, all dancing armoured patrol vehicles/infantry carriers and what portion can be light skinned logistics vehicles doing rear echelon work.

    Its not just the a simple case of applique that factors into the cost. Get a vehicle designed without much protection and you have a higher payload fraction which means a smaller engine, lighter axles/chassis, less fuel consumption, cheaper spares etc, etc. Also, electrical power, if it’s not a combat platform it doesn’t need anywhere near as much power or the cabling to move it round the vehicle and that again reduces cost.

    The US has never cared for such distinction (which is why JLTV has gone the way it has) but its a pretty obvious way of saving cash and exactly what we have done with the rest of the logistics fleet.

  22. I recall something at the time about Alvis being gifted Panther due to MRAV being cancelled. I could be way off the mark, but that’s how I remember it.


  24. *Imaginary telephone call* “Certainly Kent – that will be £450m for 45 Scout-SV (I’m sure your Army will be most pleased with them, and the selection of Matt NATO Green was a wise choice Sir) plus export duty, seat belts and full tanks of fuel that would be $1.2bn, $850k for one Scimitar 2 (how quaint), and as for the one Fox CVR(W), please accept that for free as a measure of our considerable appreciation that someone actually bought an export FRES. Please send a heavy duty LST to collect them as we have no vessel capable of taking their weight without damage (one FRES-capable Ro-Ro is scheduled to be built in 2046 though, just as the UK Scout-SV are due to be sold off).”

  25. @Chris – You actually COUNTED? I was close to getting a re-engined (Cummins BTA 5.9 diesel engine) Alvis Saracen last year, but the guy backed out.

    *Imaginary response* “Chris, since you’re unable to ship everything else, the Scimitar 2 and a Scorpion 2 (Cockerill Mk 3 90mm) both with the Cummins BTA 5.9 diesel engine, and both gratis will be acceptable. Luckily, both will fit nicely in my garage, although that means that only my wife’s car will fit in there with them. One must be prepared for those UN ‘black helicopters’ after all.”

  26. Kent – the 90mm option was least liked by the works. The 76mm was considered a good fit (same bore as Sherman & German Panther tank so not exactly small although evidently a short barrel) in that the projectile made pretty hefty impact at modest ranges, also the stubby gun meant full turret traverse was generally possible in constrained situations. It was taken out of service I understand because of its habit of filling the vehicle with cordite smoke. The Rarden is pretty accurate and punchy, and can fire in rapid succession (provided the last of the clip of three is not fired before the next clip is loaded, else there’s an age of crank twiddling to wind the round to the chamber). It is longer so turret traverse needs a wider clear radius. The 90mm is (was?) a low pressure gun but still by far the longest barrel of the three, the heavy projectile had none too impressive muzzle velocity and as a result I believe the targeting accuracy was a bit loose. On the plus side it looked like a bigger more powerful scarier gun and there was a bigger bang wherever the shell ended up landing. Just what you’d need for a standoff game of ‘my gun’s bigger than your gun’. But the 76mm and the 30mm turrets were considered more rational.

  27. If you look at the vehicles available on the French market.
    For replace the CVR (T) I would suggest the CRAB, but I think that the modernized version of the CVR (T) to your preference.
    For the multirole vehicles, there is the BASTION of ACMAT that is very well, around ten tonnes, carries 10 to 12 troops, with mine protection level 2a / 2b.

  28. Frenchie – I have seen CRAB and thought it OK – not necessarily more than liaison but OK all the same. I think the Sphinx is also a pretty good design. ACMAT’s Bastion though? It was in the original UK FCLV competition (called VLRB I think) against Alvis Scarab and Vickers/OMC RG32 or something like. Out of the three, Iveco LMV won. And no, none of us know how that happened either. It may be possible their new Bastion is longer than the VLRB, which I don’t recall being able to seat so many dismounts.

    Ref JLTV – looking at the basic requirement and comparing to the specs of both Foxhound and Supacat’s LPV400, you have to wonder if the US’s most direct route to happy troops is to take on one or other of these pretty well sorted vehicles to see if they would be good enough? Just a thought.

  29. Chris,

    I am not a French industry traveling salesman, I just say what exists on the French market.
    Here a link to the Renault Trucks Defense group if you are interested. The Sphinx is not there, it’s just a prototype.

    Otherwise the Foxhound is an outstanding vehicle, it is true.

  30. Chris,

    JLTV target price: $250,000 + 20% for applique = $300,000

    Foxhound cost: £900,000, at today’s exchange $1.35 million

    Happy troops perhaps, but unhappy taxpayer.

    Foxhound is a wonderful vehicle but seemingly designed and procured without cost constraint.

  31. How on earth did we manage to spend £900k on 7t light armour? They ought to be in the £250k bracket (give or take a premium for resin/fibre composite crew pod) plus whatever Gucci electronics & weapon fit the User demands – the latter really ought to be GFE with an identifiable accounting line elsewhere in MOD’s ledgers.

  32. Anything to do with the speed of development, manufacturing and testing for a UOR driving up Programme Unit Cost as opposed to vehicle cost?

  33. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out why GD built one with a steel rather than composite pod, despite that change adding 1,800kg to the GVW (and thus removing the same weight from the payload)….

    JLTV went through a similar, though less extreme, process. The LM offering, the only one currently standing of the original bidders is having all sorts of more exotic materials designed out of it to lower the cost.

  34. I can sort of understand replacing complex shaped ceramic appliqué with cheaper RHA (better still Super-Bainite) to save shedloads of cash, but I struggle to see why a fibreglass hull would be monstrously more expensive than a well designed welded/bolted metal hull?

    I asked a ceramic armour manufacturer I came across at a trade show how a user of their armour would make an extra hole for mounting something new. “You can’t.” he said. “If you want a piece with a different set of holes then you send a specification to us the manufacturer and we make new parts for you. That is the process.” So you can see how a non-modular ceramic appliqué solution would be eyewateringly expensive.

  35. Chris @ 8:45,

    Surely Panther had the 88? PzW4 hadboth the short and the long version of what you mention.

    The modern day Cockerell is fine as it can extend the range and add to the punch by firing missiles, too. The Swedish IKV 91 had a low pressure 90 mm, a mobility still to be bettered, but was taken out of service bcz the tanks it was supposed to kill evolved (the I in the name for infantry, ie. To keep up with them and ambush advancing columns of the OpFor).

    Re: your 10:57, Foxhound costs abt 4x the JLTV target prices, or 3x when the armour add-ons are included for like for like comparison. Surely it is good enough,but…

  36. ACC – ref Panther – a high pressure 75mm gun it was, although due to the volume of propellant in the shell cartridge, the long barrel and its slightly narrower bore the energy of the shells was greater than that from the larger 88mm (presumably with similar propellant charge) which meant at the receiving end the Panther’s 75mm hurt more than Tiger’s 88mm. So says Wiki; it must be true.

    Which is an interesting parallel to the Cockerill 90mm, as in a low pressure gun – just because a gun has a bigger bore it doesn’t necessarily mean its more effective.

  37. Off to sue the kit model manufacturer who provided wrong information on the back of the packaging…if they are still in business after 50 years

  38. I have a question about using Foxhound by the Royal Marines and 16 AAB. The Foxhound can be carried in a Chinook ?

  39. @ACC – The Jagdpanther had the 88mm PaK 43 gun of the Königstiger. The regular Panther didn’t have a big enough turret ring to support the bigger gun.

  40. @TOC, just below the Extenda pictures are a few of Jackals in ROTAS istar config.

    In same weight class as CRAB, so a few of these, being punchier, mixed in to protect a recce screen of any air-landed force… In the interim Joint Intervention Force, from next year?

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