News story: Versatile Vikings’ £37 million upgrade completed

The Ministry of Defence (MOD) announced in September 2012 that 99 Viking vehicles, used extensively by the Royal Marines, would be regenerated under a new £37 million contract with BAE Systems.

The revamp of the Viking Fleet has seen the vehicles fitted with new mine blast protected Hulls designed to offer additional defence should they encounter an explosive device. In addition the entire fleet has had improvements made to its braking and suspension systems.The project has been managed by the MOD’s Defence Equipment and Support organistion based in Bristol.

The amphibious vehicles can be launched straight from a ship and propelled through water before landing for a beach assault. Their versatility across tough terrains was put to use when deployed on operations in Afghanistan.

Defence Minister Philip Dunne said:

The regeneration of these 99 Viking vehicles, which sit at the heart of the Royal Marines’ amphibious capability, is incredibly welcome.

The £37 million upgrades include improvements to the braking and suspension systems, as well as new mine blast protection to help keep our troops safe.

These advances have been made possible by the Government’s growing Defence budget and our £178 billion investment in procuring and maintaining the best possible kit for our Armed Forces.

Viking. Crown Copyright.
Viking. Crown Copyright.

The forward cabin of all 99 vehicles have been fitted with a Protected Weapon Mount (PWM) which pivots 360 degrees and can be used with either a 12.7mm Browning heavy machine gun or 7.62 general purpose machine gun. Nine Viking vehicles have also been upgraded to allow the firing of an 81mm mortar from the vehicle.

Brigadier Richard Spencer, Assistant Chief of Staff for Land and Littoral Manoeuvre within Navy Command, said:

The Viking vehicles and their crews operated with great distinction and bravery in Iraq and Afghanistan, enabling a high degree of tactical manoeuvre and saving many lives.

The vehicles’ subsequent Regeneration Programme has been delivered at best value for Defence, with considerable support from a wide range of stakeholders, including Army Command, Defence Equipment & Support, and our industry partners in BAE Systems.

Viking is now back where it belongs, at the heart of our nation’s ability to deliver an effective, efficient and affordable expeditionary amphibious capability.

The Regeneration Programme currently secures the vehicle’s service life until 2024 with an option to further extend that date until 2034.

from Ministry of Defence – Activity on GOV.UK http://ift.tt/1VEtRg2

19 Comments
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Peter Elliott
April 29, 2016 8:54 pm

So these 99 vehicles equip how many Commando Battle Groups? And am I right in thinking the rear echelon of 3 Commando Brigade still on th e older BVS10..?

HMArmedForcesReview
HMArmedForcesReview
April 30, 2016 9:39 am

http://www.janes.com/article/59281/uk-seeks-bv-206d-replacement

This is your answer.

As to the “battle group” they call it LCG–lead commando group. You have 3 x Commando brigades with each 2 tracked Rifle Companies plus the RM Armoured Support Group.

Peter Elliott
April 30, 2016 9:59 am

Thanks HMAF

So we do have enough Viking+BV206 for the whole of the brigade if we did want to deploy it at scale. Thats reassuring.

Will the Armoured Support Group be getting Ajax? I’m guessing it was Scimitar before.

HMArmedForcesReview
HMArmedForcesReview
April 30, 2016 12:47 pm

No Armoured Support Group is not a scouting group. Actually not exactly clear how it operates with the 2×3 Viking Companies in the Commando Battalions.

As for enough–3 Commando hasn’t launched a big D-Day assault for decades

Peter Elliott
April 30, 2016 1:05 pm

Frankly Ajax is the nearest thing to a light tank that we have. Probaby preferable to Challeger in this role…?

Observer
Observer
April 30, 2016 4:35 pm

Been a bit of tonnage creep in recent years. I would have classed Ajax as a medium weight vehicle but if the trend continues with increasing weight and the lighter vehicles get retired, I think it might become the new “light tank” as you said PE.

A very rough tonnage breakdown would be along the lines of:

50 tons = Heavy (MBT or HAPC/HIFV)

Of course since public class 30 MLC bridges have not changed in decades, one does wonder how they are going to use armour to scout around.

Peter Elliott
April 30, 2016 4:59 pm

Depends who the role is of that armour within 3 Cdo. Maybe if the role is direct fire and shock action against medium/light opposition then the weight won’t matter. Just because Ajax was called “scout” doesn’t mean it’s only role will be scouting. Mabe 3Cdo will use light vehicles, helo, motorbike etc for its true scouting role.

Anyone know the answer…??

HMArmedForcesReview
HMArmedForcesReview
May 1, 2016 5:32 am

Ajax is too heavy to lift by helicopter for sure. Vikings I think can but they mostly launch via the Albions or the Bay class ships.

Royal Marines don’t really need Ajax. Their core role doesnt demand it. If and if there’s a need for reconnaissance or fire support of that nature, it will be in a joint army-royal marine battlegroup ala Afghanistan.

Peter Elliott
May 1, 2016 7:03 am

But you mentioned a “RM Armoured Support Group” st the top, integrated in each Commando alongside the 2 tracked rifle and 1 tracked support companies.

What is it, what vehicles does it have, and what does it do?

Mickp
Mickp
May 1, 2016 7:55 am

@PE, according to the official RN site the ASG also uses Vikings. I suppose that is where a niche buy of a light tank or AFV with a cannon might fit if they wanted to increase fire power. I think Ajax would be too big.

Observer
Observer
May 1, 2016 8:04 am

It’s basically a mobile GPMG unit. They use BVs 10s with GPMGs mounted for anti-infantry work. Nothing really spectacular. Think Warthogs in Afghanistan. That was what the Vikings were doing and will be doing in the future. Their pros are high mobility anti-infantry firepower, their con is having only the GPMG, so no explosives for demolition or behind cover attacks and that they were way too light for the job. The new version of the Viking has solved the 2nd problem, or so they claim. We’ll see how well it turns out.

Observer
Observer
May 1, 2016 8:12 am

Oh, BTW HMA, regarding that article, I don’t think the ExtremV is going to be in the running, what the ExtremV is, is basically a Warthog with the hull made of aluminum instead of steel. It was for a Japanese competition that ST Kinetics did not win (IIRC). Part of the problem was the cost of the steel hull, the Japanese were going to use it for civilian firefighting, which means that there was no need for the extra toughness and cost of an all steel hull, so the “new” vehicle was made of aluminum instead of steel, with the tradeoffs all that implies.

Which begs the question of “why not simply keep the Warthog” if they are going to buy a new “Warthog Lite”?

Peter Elliott
May 1, 2016 8:45 am

You would think the logistics benefit if putting the whole brigade on Viking 2 would be attractive. Even if the rear echelon get an armour lite variant to increase their load carrying capability, a common chassis and driveline SHOULD be a no brainer

HMArmedForcesReview
HMArmedForcesReview
May 1, 2016 2:25 pm

Well now 9 Vikings can fire 81mm. Would be some added bonus to all 3 Commando units.

Observer
Observer
May 2, 2016 5:57 am

Yes, now it has the 81mm. Probably a rear cabin mount and used as light artillery.

Still can’t help but think the other 90 could use a GMG to back up the GPMG, similar to how a SAW gunner and a grenadier fit in their roles. Oh well, no big deal, and if they suddenly find themselves in need, there’s always UOR and mounting a GMG isn’t that time consuming.

HMArmedForcesReview
HMArmedForcesReview
May 2, 2016 1:26 pm

I say the Royal Marines have it good with these. The Parachute Regiment doesn’t have such an armoured vehicle, parachute-capable or not, like the Viking.

Rudeboy
Rudeboy
May 2, 2016 5:35 pm

Observer
Seems an odd omission to say the least, I’m hoping it’s just an omission in the press release. I thought most of our mounts if they could take the 50cal could also take the GMG as well. Do the Royal Marines have them though? Were they a theatre only issue? Given the near universal praise I’d be surprised if they were. Pity we can’t find some space for the Warthog as well.

Observer
Observer
May 2, 2016 7:36 pm

Rude, it’s “either/or” and most of the time, it’s a GPMG or a 0.5 cal, no GMG or at least none that I have found. The UK uses the H&K GMG and even then I think it was a specific buy for Afghanistan only and not for the ATTCs but the “armoured” landrovers. The ATTCs simply don’t use a 40//50 or 40/7.62 combo. Not really an oversight, simply that the UK doesn’t use 40m AGLs until very recently (recently as in <10 years ago) I think.

@Ravenser
@Ravenser
May 3, 2016 8:52 am

Ajax, far too big and noisy. Call me old fashioned but perhaps the attachment of a troop of Scimitar 2 to each Commando may prove useful?