The Not So Secret Life of the Saxon

If ever there was a Cold War warrior it is the Saxon protected mobility vehicle.

It was designed in the late seventies and came into service in the early eighties with the British Army as a means of providing some measure of protection for personnel deploying from the UK to the continent in response to a Warsaw Pact invasion. It was built on the chassis and automotive components of the Bedford TM series trucks, a nice bit of commonality for reducing maintenance and in life support costs.

Modified versions were used in Northern Ireland and they have been deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan and the Balkans.

All forces deployed to the Balkans suffered from mines, the images below (with thanks to Cold War Warrior) show the aftermath of a TMA3 mine strike on a Saxon in the hills above Rama Lake, Bosnia, in 1994.

Saxon mine damage SFOR (Image Credit - Flickr Cold War Warrior)
Saxon mine damage SFOR (Image Credit – Flickr Cold War Warrior)
Saxon mine damage SFOR (Image Credit - Flickr Cold War Warrior)
Saxon mine damage SFOR (Image Credit – Flickr Cold War Warrior)

Anti sniper turrets also were fitted to a number of AT105 Saxons deployed to the Balkans, taken from surplus FV432’s.

Before and since, the Saxon has been on an extensive world tour and developed into a number of variants.

AT105 Saxon Internal Security 01 (Image Credit - Cold War Warrior)
AT105 Saxon Internal Security 01 (Image Credit – Cold War Warrior)
AT 105 Saxon APC (Image Credit - Cold War Warrior)
AT 105 Saxon APC (Image Credit – Cold War Warrior)
Saxon ambulance
Saxon ambulance
Pictured here is a Saxon armoured personnel vehicle of 1st Battalion of the Queens Lancashire Regiment as it carries out a routine patrol of Al Hayyaniya. A Shia flat area of Al Basrah city in the south of Iraq. To maintain law and order and improve relationships between the local community and our forces. 2003/07/30
Pictured here is a Saxon armoured personnel vehicle of 1st Battalion of the Queens Lancashire Regiment as it carries out a routine patrol of Al Hayyaniya. A Shia flat area of Al Basrah city in the south of Iraq. To maintain law and order and improve relationships between the local community and our forces. 2003/07/30
Saxon and Snatch of the Queens Lancashire Regiment, Basra September 2003
Saxon and Snatch of the Queens Lancashire Regiment, Basra September 2003
Saxon Vehicle, ISAF Kabul 2004
Saxon Vehicle, ISAF Kabul 2004 (Image Credit – Cold War Warrior)
AT105 Saxon and Mexeflote
AT105 Saxon and Mexeflote

Out of service now the fleet is being busily sold to second users, including the Ukraine it would seema commercial arrangement between Withams and Ukroboronprom (the Ukrainian Defense Industry)

The announcement is below (click to view)

Saxon Ukraine
Official news on Saxon deal

There is not an English version on the Ukroboronprom site but using Google Translate it looks like the contract was agreed in December 2013 for 75 vehicles at a cost of less than $50k each including delivery and documentation, which makes them a bargain, however old they are.

Click the image below to watch a video and view images of them being inspected and tested against small arms.

Saxon Ukraine
Saxon in Ukraine

The timing might be unfortunate but that hasn’t stopped the media whipping a story out of thin air.

Perhaps the most interesting of those stories is former Chief of the General Staff, General Sir Richard Dannatt, criticising the deal on the basis that Saxons are rubbish.

The Telegraph reports him saying…

I took these out of service by the UK Army in 2005/6 as completely unsuitable for current operations, so I find it incredible that they are being sold/gifted to Ukraine. I am incensed by the thought we are supplying, even via a 3rd party, SAXON APCs to the hapless Ukrainians. They are quite useless, semi-armoured lorries that should be nowhere near anyone’s front line.

My concern is the inadequate nature of these vehicles which I ordered out of British Army front line service when I was Commander in Chief Land Command 2005-2006. They were withdrawn from Iraq and never deployed in southern Afghanistan. To suggest that the UK is making a significant gesture of support by supplying vehicles which we took out of service ten years ago, because we deemed them unsafe, seems bizarre at best and downright dangerous at worst.

Those comments might be seen as somewhat rich for reasons we all know (Land Rover Snatch cough cough)

Perhaps the ultimate irony is a vehicle that was intended for use against Russian forces during the Cold War yet used pretty much everywhere else is finally being used for the purpose it was designed, fighting the Russians.

[UPDATE]

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