Multi Role Vehicle (Protected)

The Multi-Role Vehicle Protected (MRV-P) is defined as a Cat A project intended to meet the requirement for a protected deployable platform employed by all Force Elements, at all scales of effort, in a wide range of environments, and on all parts of the battlefield except for the direct fire zone. The MRV-P should bring commonality to the fleet and reduce the logistics footprint for utility vehicles by 2020.

Looking across British Army programmes, there does seem to be broad progress; Morpheus, Ajax, EPLS, MIV and others, even CR2 LEP and Warrior CSP are moving. Some faster than others, of course, and yes, we can all attach our usual financial/BREXIT/MDP based scepticism, but broad progress, certainly.

The Multi Role Vehicle (Protected) programme has likewise been progressing but is has a long and complicated backstory that is worth understanding in order to frame the current options and choices.

This is an article in two parts;

Part 1 – History (this page)

Part 2 – The Current Programme (the next page)




MRV-P can trace its roots to the late eighties and the FFLAV study.

Future Family of Light Armoured Vehicles (FFLAV)

Towards the end of the eighties, the British Army initiated a number of studies to examine requirements for its future non MBT vehicle fleet. The Family of Light Armoured Vehicles (FLAV) study became the Future Family of Light Armoured Vehicles (FFLAV) programme.

The 1991 Gulf War demonstrated a number of shortcomings in the legacy fleet, especially the reduced mobility, capability and survivability of the ageing FV432 and CVR(T) vehicle families. So although there was a recognition before the Gulf War that replacements were needed, operations in Kuwait and Iraq simply hammered the point home.

FFLAV looked across the Army’s vehicle fleet and rightly concluded that there were too many types with overlapping roles, and the equipment in service could be consolidated by taking a more coherent approach. Within FFLAV there was also a desire to replace Warrior through the Multi-Base Armoured Vehicle study. As a result, FFLAV was thought to have the potential for over 7,000 vehicles. To say the market was excited would be rather an understatement and so, in the late eighties and early nineties, a series of partnerships and consortia emerged to offer the MoD a single prime contractor for the entire programme.

Alvis, in conjunction with the Swedish Hägglunds AB, French Panhard and Spanish ENASA proposed a range of wheeled and tracked vehicles ranging from 3.5 tonnes to 24 tonnes. Stormer and CVR(T) would be further developed, filling the 8-10 tonnes and 9-13 tonnes weight classifications. Hägglunds would provide the 20-24 tonnes CV90 for the Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC), Reconnaissance, Observation, Recovery, Repair, Self-Propelled Mortar, Infantry Fighting Vehicle and Engineer Tractor requirement.

Whilst most tend to see FFLAV in the context of the heavier vehicles with what would eventually evolve to become TRACER>>AJAX and MRAV>>BOXER, it is important to also note the roles envisaged at the lower end of the scale.

The Panhard Véhicule Blindé Léger (VBL) stems from a 1978 French Army requirement for a light armoured vehicle that could meet two roles; anti-tank (with Milan ATGW) and scout/reconnaissance. Entering service in 1988, there have been nearly two thousand built and it is in service with a number of users and in many variants. For FFLAV, the 3.5 and 4.5 tonnes VBL was proposed for the Observation, Command and Control, Rover, Liaison and Internal Security Roles.

For the Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC), Ambulance, Recovery, Repair, Command and Control, and Medium Calibre Weapon Carrier role, Alvis proposed the 14-19 tonne ENASA (Empresa Nacional de Autocamiones S.A.) BMR-600. The BMR-600 (Blindado Medio Ruedas) came from a late seventies Spanish army requirement for an armoured vehicle in a number of variants including a 2+10 APC, ambulance, weapon carrier and repair/recovery vehicle.

Like the VBL, it has been produced in quantity and exported widely, upgraded in service and more variants developed and fielded.

In the same manner, as the ASCOD Ulan/Pizarro partnership, Spain and Austria also collaborated on the Pandur I, an Austrian vehicle based largely on the BMR. This has also been continually upgraded. The US Special Operations Command also purchased a number of Pandur I vehicles under the Armoured Ground Mobility System and they have been recently deployed to Iraq and Syria in support of combat operations against ISIS.

FFLAV was only a study, not a formal programme, but it would inform TRACER and MRAV, FRES, and then eventually to SV Ajax and MIV Boxer.

Protected Patrol Vehicle (PPV) and Mine Protected Vehicle (MPV)

Although not directly related to MRV-P, the Protected Patrol Vehicle (PPV) programme produced vehicles that may be replaced by MRV-P, again, understanding its history might be informative.

At the beginning of 1990, the British Army had approximately 500 Saxons in service in the UK (including Northern Ireland) and Germany. In 1991, an additional order was placed for 100 more vehicles.

The British Army had for many years used protected patrol vehicles in Northern Ireland and had again developed and fielded a number of different types in response to changing threats. Operations in the Balkans would also prove to be influential. The images below (from 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 BalkansMine strikes were a common occurrence and whilst all vehicles were as resistant as designed, the subject started to gain increasing attention. The UK defence industry then started to get involved with South African manufacturers of mine protected vehicles. The Mamba 4×4 was a development of the earlier Mamba 4×2 that was created by Mechem. It used the South African Army’s old Unimog 416 trucks as parts donors. The production contract was awarded to Reumech with the basic design licensed from Mechem. Higher strength steel and multiple design refinements had allowed the manufacturers to flatten the deep V that characterised the earlier vehicles and as a result, create a more practical layout. The first Mamba 4 x4 prototype was tested in 1993. In late 1993 two prototype vehicles were sent to Alvis in the UK, who had partnered with both Mechem and Reumech. The two prototype vehicles were the Iron Eagle scout car and the first 4×4 version of the Mamba 2.9m wheelbase mine protected vehicle.Mechem Mamba and Iron EagleDespite a number of problems with both vehicles, Alvis saw some potential and decided to develop them both further. The Iron Eagle became the Alvis Acorn which then evolved into the Scarab, Scarab 2 and Scarab 3.

Alvis Scarab and Acorn

One of the key emerging requirements for SFOR was ordnance disposal and, in particular, route proving/clearance. Mines were used liberally by all belligerents. After a successful trial of the Alvis 8 in 1994, the MoD requested a shorter wheelbase (2.4m) version and this was to become the Alvis 4. Because of time pressures, Alvis also loaned the MoD a number of Alvis 8’s, the longer wheelbase version with the old-fashioned running gear, so there were both versions in theatre. In 1996 three Alvis 4s were procured for operations in Macedonia for £1 million.

The images below show an Alvis 8 (left) and the Alvis 4 (right).Both the Alvis 4 and Alvis 8 were commonly called Mambas. The Alvis 4 had a number of modifications including an armour plate to defeat the TMRP 6 mine, stretcher lashing points, and Clansman radio wiring and battery charging systems. The original requirement was for a vehicle that could extract casualties from vehicles that had detonated mines although they would, eventually, also used in the route proving role.

Six vehicles were deployed to the Balkans in 1996 for use by the Royal Engineers, costing £1.2 million in total. The Alvis 4s were a great success but the harsh climate and terrain of the Balkans, combined with the extra weight imposed by additional armour and old-fashioned mechanicals exposed a number of reliability and safety limitations, so they were eventually disposed of and a replacement sought. This was not for patrolling, but specific use in high threat areas by the Royal Engineers, but the requirements would eventually converge.

In parallel, one of the sales engineers from Alvis who was involved with the Alvis 4/8 programme had by this time left Alvis and set up a company in the USA called Seafire. Seafire worked with the Technical Solutions Group to market their products in the UK and Europe. Although still in service, the Alvis 4’s were proving increasingly difficult to support and so a replacement programme was launched. For the Alvis 4 replacement, Seafire proposed the Lion Mine Protected vehicle and partnered with Supacat who acted as the technical prime and integrator for UK specific requirements and safety compliance.

The name Tempest was chosen to avoid confusion with a number of other MoD projects and eventually, 8 vehicles were obtained for a total contract price of £2.7 million. An older version of the Royal Engineers website claimed that the Tempest MPV was based on a Peterbilt 330 tractor unit with a Marmon Herrington 4 wheel drive running gear but other sources indicate that it was a custom designed unit based on a US Mack truck running gear to a South African base design.

Tempest Mine Protected Vehicle 01The MP-V was claimed to be proven against detonation of a single TMRP-6 mine underneath the personnel capsule, single TM57 mine under the vehicle centreline and two stacked TM57 mines under a wheel. The official name was Tempest 4×4 12TON Mine Protected Vehicle.

After entering service in 1995, the Snatch Land Rover Mk1 had seen service in Northern Ireland and Kosovo. By 2002, it was approaching the end of is service life and a replacement programme started under Project DUCKBOARD. A draft statement of user requirement in January 2002 stated:

The current NI [Northern Ireland] patrol vehicles are essential for troop deployment, patrolling urban and rural areas and for administrative tasks. They were procured to counter the threat from low and high velocity small arms, Improvised Explosive Devices (IED), anti‑armour weapons, petrol bombs and general hand‑held catapulted missiles. In order to afford the troops on the ground an acceptable level of protection, mobility and capacity to counter the threat two vehicles are currently in service, Tavern in the high risk areas and Snatch in the lower risk areas.

Work continued on a Protected Patrol Vehicle to replace Snatch and Tavern. Tavern was a heavier protected patrol vehicle based on a GMC cash collection truck with additional protection installed by Penman Engineering.

In February 2003, TSG announced the delivery of the final Tempest MPV. Soon after the final delivery of the Tempest MPV they were deployed to Iraq in support of initial operations around Basra, specifically against the mine (not IED) threat, but were withdrawn soon after.

By mid 2003, the Protected Patrol Vehicle (PPV) requirement (to replace Snatch and Tavern) was progressing within the MoD. A July stakeholder workshop considered PPV would now cover three requirements:

  • Northern Ireland
  • Light forces when deployed on peacekeeping operations
  • Protected mobility for RE/RLC EOD teams

Options considered included extending the lives of existing Snatch Land Rovers, military/commercial off the shelf vehicles and up-armouring existing vehicles such as the Pinzgauer. By August, the threat from IED’s in Iraq, especially remote control IED’s, was increasing. A forces and resources review carried out in September articulated a need for light protected mobility vehicles:

The threat posed to CF [Coalition Forces] within Basra City from IED, RPG and small arms attacks is currently being countered by the use of stripped‑down Land Rovers with top cover sentries. This necessarily carries a risk to the top cover vehicles from attack, particularly from IEDs. Force protection will be improved by the provision of up‑armoured 4×4 vehicles that meet the broad definitions below Replacing the full complement of this in the UK Bde [brigade] would require of the order of 420 vehicles. The minimum quantity to provide essential protected movement in Basra and Maysan is 228. Any lower number will be put to good use in accordance with priorities. The requirement is for: an agile wheeled vehicle capable of swift acceleration and speed in excess of 60 mph, a high degree of protection against small arms fire and blast devices, a cupola to allow top cover protection to deter attackers, particularly those deploying anti‑armour weapons and small arms, grills to give windows protection against thrown objects, both to enhance routine protection and to enable its use in public order situations where a Warrior  [AFV] may be too threatening or unable to manoeuvre in small streets.

The PPV Working Group met again in September to discuss the requirement. A footnote to the minutes stated:

Due to the limited Tavern fleet and the expected high cost of procuring similar vehicles, the PPV protection requirement must be realistic in order to permit a timely and cost-effective solution to the UOR

Options considered included Snatch/Tavern, Land Rover Wolf/Pinzgauer with applique armour, refurbish existing vehicles awaiting disposal and purchase new. Because of the demanding timelines, Snatch was considered the best option although it was recognised a new vehicle purchase would be relatively low risk for the medium to long-term.

208 Snatch Mk1 Protected Vehicles were deployed to Iraq from Belfast in November 2003. Saxon vehicles were also deployed to Iraq.

By the end of 2003, after their earlier withdrawal from service, the Alvis 4′s were sent for disposal. 9 went to the Estonian armed forces, 4 to a US Security company (Blackwater) and 1 to Singapore. Total sale value for all 14, £448,000.

Meanwhile, the business case to modify the existing Snatch 1 vehicles already in theatre with more suitable environmental capabilities was approved at a cost of £2.2m, these were referred to as ‘Snatch 1.5’. Project DUCKBOARD also progressed in parallel to the UOR Snatch modifications, although expected quantities were reduced. The Rest of World PPV being defined would eventually go on to become Vector. Main Gate Approval for Snatch 2 was sought. 312 Snatch 2 were planned to be obtained, 208 to replace the Snatch 1.5 in Iraq. The value of this was £13m with funding drawn directly from the DUCKBOARD budget line.

Option D, considered but not taken due to cost and timescale to delivery issues, was for a COTS vehicle.

It should also be noted that Snatch 2 protection was ‘Standard equivalent to current SNATCH’ The In-Service Date was planned to be December 2004, with 80 delivered to Iraq. May saw the first recorded use of an explosively formed projectile (EFP) IED against UK forces, used against a Warrior in the Maysan province. in 2005, a reworking of the Protected Patrol Vehicle (PPV) statement of requirement resulted in a recommendation to convert the existing Snatch vehicles to Snatch Mk2 and order 100 Vector vehicles.

An update from GOC (MND(SE)) in August 2005 raised concerns about the use of IED’s and the inability of current vehicles and ECM to cope.

The threat from IEDs is worrying, with our electronic counter measures unable to defend against the [redaction] and the use of [redaction] and (in the most recent attack) shaped charges able to penetrate armoured vehicles up to and including [redaction].. This technology has now been used across MND(SE) and indeed further north having first been seen in Maysan

Clearly, in theatre commanders were concerned about equipment issues in response to IED’s.

In 2006, a MoD paper described how Vector had been reduced from 153 to around 80 for reasons of affordability. For Project VECTOR, the Rest of World PPV, a commercial off the shelf solution was recommended and that some of these were already in service with other nations. The decision on VECTOR was one of speed. With plans advanced for HQ ARRC to deploy to Afghanistan and a likely shift of focus from Iraq to Afghanistan, obtained suitable vehicles was a high priority.

In the House of Lords, on the 12th of June 2006, Lord Astor of Hever asked the government:

When they expect to bring into service further patrol vehicles armoured to provide protection against improvised explosive devices.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Drayson) replied:

My Lords, I am sure the House will wish to join me in expressing our sincere condolences to the families and friends of the soldiers killed and injured in Afghanistan yesterday. We do not comment on the level of protection of specific vehicles, for obvious reasons. Protected patrol vehicles are only one of a range of vehicles available to commanders to allow them to balance mobility, protection and profile based on the threat, the terrain and the task. PPVs offer a level of protection commensurate with their weight, size and role, together with good mobility and a low profile.

Lord Astor also asked about US equipment, referencing the RG-31, Lord Drayson again:

My Lords, I do not accept that Snatch Land Rovers are not appropriate for the role. We must recognise the difference between protection and survivability. It is important that we have the trade-offs that we need for mobility. The Snatch Land Rover provides us with the mobility and level of protection that we need.

We had 14 RG-31s in Bosnia, which we took out of service some time ago due to difficulties with maintenance. We have looked at the RG-31 alongside a number of alternatives for our current fleet and concluded that the size and profile did not meet our needs. Size is important in the urban environment. The RG-31 cannot access areas that Snatch Land Rovers can get to.

On the 26th of June 2006, Des Brown announced a review of armoured vehicles in Iraq:

As I have already said to the House, it is open for commanders to deploy vehicles that have heavier protection than the Snatch Land Rover … Other vehicles are available to them; there is a choice. However, commanders must be free to make decisions in relation to the operations for which they deploy soldiers. I have already said to the House that I am aware of the issue: I could not but be aware of it following my visit last week and, indeed, my earlier visit. I have asked for a review of what we can do in the long term and immediately. I shall see what we can do immediately to respond to the changing situation, although significant measures other than those in relation to the vehicle’s armour must be taken. We are at the leading edge of some of them, and electronic counter‑measures, in particular

Following a visit to South Africa in June, Brigadier Moore wrote that if a better protected PPV was required, RG-31 had the potential to meet the requirement.

It is now apparent that RG31 … has sufficient stretch potential to take the additional weight associated with protection against […]. In addition, LSSA [Land Systems South Africa] has a rigorous testing regime … and this is fully compliant with DSTL thinking. LSSA is innovative, front running and is at the leading edge of their trade. Should the Army want a heavier and better protected PPV, RG31 would be a strong contender.

This was quite an extraordinary view, especially given the MoD and governments public rejection of the RG-31, both in response to questions from MP’s and Lords, media scrutiny and its rejection for the Future Command and Liaison Vehicle.

In a 7th July memo, Lt Gen Houghton was unequivocal on the requirement for a medium PPV.

Later in the same month, Lord Drayson held a meeting and Major General Applegate during which suitable vehicles to meet the requirement were discussed. Although 25-30 Bushmasters were available as a loan from Australia, the two other most suitable contenders were the Protector (a variant of the RG-31) and the Iraq Light Armoured Vehicle (ILAV), a somewhat misleading title for what was a version of the Force Protection Cougar. Additional work to determine the best option was then carried out.

By the end of July, the MoD had selected the Force Protection Cougar to meet the Medium PPV requirements. The business case concluded that the RG-31 Mk2 Protector was immature and that the Bushmaster needed further investigation. On the 24th of July, the UK announced it had ordered 100 Cougar vehicles from Force Protection. The same announcement also detailed the Vector order from BAE.

From Des Brown in the House of Commons:

I have made clear my determination to ensure the armed forces on operations have the resources they need to do the job. I said I would update the House on developments in two particular areas of operational capability: additional options for armoured vehicles and helicopter support for Afghanistan.

As I told the House on 26 June, I ordered an urgent review of our armoured vehicle fleet, particularly focused on the evolving threat in Iraq, but covering the whole operational picture including Afghanistan, to ensure we were providing commanders with the best options.

That review has now concluded. It has confirmed that there is a growing requirement for a protected vehicle with capabilities between our heavy armour, such as Warrior, and lighter patrol vehicles, such as SNATCH. The review has also identified feasible options to address the gap in the short term. We have now completed a very rapid assessment of those options and have identified three complementary ways forward. Two of these build on, and accelerate, work already ongoing in the Department. The third is new. The necessary funding will come in part from acceleration of existing funding within the defence budget, and in part from substantial new funding from the Treasury.

The first element is an additional buy of around 100 VECTOR, our new Pinzgauer based protected patrol vehicle, for Afghanistan, on top of the 62 already on contract. VECTOR provides good protection and, importantly, increased mobility and capacity compared to SNATCH which makes it very suitable for the rugged terrain and long patrol distances in Afghanistan.

The second element is to provide around 70 additional up-armoured and upgraded FV430 to equip a mechanised infantry battlegroup for Iraq by the spring of 2007, again on top of the 54 we have already ordered. The FV430 will be delivered incrementally with the first vehicles currently expected to be delivered this autumn.

Significantly smaller and lighter than Warrior, the up-armoured FV430 will provide a similar level of protection while being less intimidating and having less impact on local infrastructure—thereby providing commanders with an important additional option. Since it is able to carry out many of the same tasks as Warrior, it will also relieve pressure on heavily committed Warrior vehicles and armoured infantry battlegroups.

The third, new element is the Cougar manufactured by Force Protection Incorporated of Charleston, South Carolina. We judge that this vehicle meets our requirement for a well protected, wheeled patrol vehicle with a less intimidating profile than tracked vehicles like Warrior or FV430. We are arranging to rapidly procure around 100 vehicles through US military sources. We have received excellent co-operation from the US Government, military and industry—an example of the special relationship bringing real benefits for our soldiers on the ground. Once we take possession of the vehicles, we must then customise them with Bowman radios and electronic counter-measures—and then fit additional armour beyond the standard level, to ensure they have the best possible protection. This procurement and enhancement process takes time. But we expect to be able to deliver the vehicles, in batches, with an effective capability in place before the end of the year and continuing through the next six month rotations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

These three vehicles will complement existing Warrior and SNATCH. Warrior will continue to provide the capability to deal with the most demanding threats, but its profile and weight makes it unsuitable for some operations and situations, such as Afghanistan. SNATCH, with a much less intimidating profile, enables troops to interact with locals and promotes a sense of normality and will remain a key tool for building and maintaining consent. The up-armoured FV430, the Cougar medium PPV, and VECTOR fill the requirements for varying degrees of protection, mobility and profile between these two extremes. But I am confident that together these vehicles provide commanders with the right range of options to deal with the situations and threats they face.

After a company-funded prototype was completed early in 2006, the MoD ordered 62 Vector Protected Patrol Vehicles, announced above, these being based on the Pinzgauer 6×6 chassis.

These were destined for Afghanistan, cost, £35 million.

The Defence Select Committee published their 13th Report in August, Operations in Iraq.

At its Basra Palace base, we met the UK’s 20 Armoured Brigade. We were shown the equipment used on patrol, particularly the Snatch Land Rover. We heard that Snatch were very good vehicles, but they were old and could often break down. Many had previously been used in Northern Ireland. They were fast and manoeuvrable but not well armoured and were particularly vulnerable to Improvised Explosive Device (IED) attack. Similar concerns were voiced by UK troops at the Shaibah Logistics Base

This period was intensely political, the Government was being accused of neglect and plain old lies by a number of MP’s and commentators, parts of the media were simply repeating MoD media ‘lines to take’, all whilst personnel in Iraq were struggling with an evolving threat.

The MoD announced the introduction of the Tellar munitions disposal vehicle, based on the Mowag Duro chassis already in service with the Army, to almost total bewilderment by those that have been reading about two things, the vulnerability of the vehicles in use in the British Army and the capabilities of the US forces in the same theatre, by now using the Husky, Cougar and Buffalo combination.

The vehicle carries all equipment required by the end user to undertake conventional munitions disposal. It has also been fitted as an emergency response vehicle (blue light enabled), and is fitted with a mobile phone, force protection suite, a personal address system, and two Global Positioning Systems (GPS): a Bowman radio GPS, and a commercial GPS. It also comes fitted with a level of riot protection.

Each Tellar weighed 9.5 tonnes and costs around £415,000. 18 vehicles were purchased, with 14 to be deployed on operations, and four held in the UK for training and reserves. Tellar deployed with the Joint Explosives Ordnance Disposal force on both Operations HERRICK and eventually, TELIC.Many questioned the logic of replacing the Tempest mine protected vehicle with Tellar, a vehicle, arguably, with the equivalent protection of a crisp packet. It would also seem this was the culmination of the Project DUCKBOARD Type C (FORMAT) Requirement, a vehicle specifically for Royal Engineers Explosive Ordnance Disposal teams.

After deliveries started in 2006 the first 62 Pinzgauer Vector Protected Patrol Vehicles entered service in 2007. An order for an additional 118 vehicles, 12 of which were ambulance variants, was placed with BAE. The Mastiff and Vector purchases were expected to cost approximately £120 million, Mastiff using UOR Treasury funding and Vector coming from Army budgets. In response to the explosively formed penetrator threat, the UK Mastiff’s would be fitted with additional side armour to counter the EFP threat.

The MoD announced in October an additional order for 140 Mastiff vehicles in 2007, most of them destined for Afghanistan, and in early 2008, an additional quantity.

Meanwhile, Vector was not having a good deployment to Afghanistan. It continued to struggle with the heat and weight of its armour, the legendary Pinzgauer mobility had been compromised to such a degree that it was restricted to good roads and tracks. Robbed of its mobility it had to rely on its upgraded protection, which on many occasions proved completely and utterly inadequate against IED’s. Introduced with much fanfare it was proving to be a total, embarrassing and dangerous failure, acquiring the ‘coffin on wheels’ nickname.

A small number of ADI Bushmasters were purchased, reportedly for SF use, a vehicle with excellent mine/IED protection, much in contrast to Vector.

The first batch of 151 Ridgebacks was delivered to the UK in August following a contract award to Force Protection that also included the Wolfhound Tactical Support Vehicle and development of the Mastiff 2 which although focused on improving Mastiff’s poor mobility. It also included better seating and driver’s vision equipment.

The additional protected mobility contracts were formally announced on the 29th of October 2008.

Defence Secretary John Hutton has announced a package worth £700 million today, which will pay for some 700 new armoured vehicles to further improve the safety and protection of troops on operations in Afghanistan.

The Protected Mobility Package announced by Mr Hutton today, Wednesday 29 October 2008, includes provision of £350 million for 400 brand new armoured support trucks which will be used to accompany patrols and carry essential supplies such as water and ammunition. The three distinct categories of Tactical Support Vehicles (TSV) are:

Wolfhound: TSV (Heavy). Heavy armoured support trucks – supporting and re-supplying Mastiffs in the highest threat areas. These vehicles will have the highest levels of mine blast protection;

Husky: TSV (Medium). Medium armoured support trucks – carrying out the support roles in lower threat areas and where heavy vehicles, like Mastiff, cannot be used;

Coyote: TSV (Light). Light armoured support vehicles – supporting Jackals across the harsh terrain of Afghanistan.

Other vehicles which will be paid for out of the £700 million include:

Over 100 brand new cross-country vehicles called Warthog which, with greater protection levels, will replace Vikings in Afghanistan, and over 100 more Jackals, the extremely agile all-terrain vehicles which include high-levels of off-road mobility and firepower.

£96 million from the package will also be used to develop a specialist route clearance system known as Talisman, which will provide a new high-tech way of dealing with the IED (Improvised Explosive Device) threat. Among the Talisman vehicles to be developed will be the Buffalo mine-protected vehicle and the Engineer Excavator.

In addition, new vehicles, and upgrades and modifications were also announced today. 30 base Cougar vehicles will be purchased, a mixture of 4x4s and 6x6s, which will be modified to boost our training fleets for Mastiff and Ridgeback.

The new Panther vehicle has been modified and upgraded to prepare for its arrival in Afghanistan and a new variant of the Snatch has been developed, known as the Snatch-Vixen, which, specially designed for Afghanistan, has been given extra power and payload which enhances the mobility and protection of the vehicle.

Today’s announcement builds on previous measures that are already making a difference in Iraq and Afghanistan including the introduction of the hugely successful Mastiff with its superior levels of protection and the Jackal with its impressive firepower and speed, allowing troops to get off the tracks and roads and strike hard at the enemy from all directions.

Mastiff’s smaller brother Ridgeback, due to arrive on operations early in the new year, will also add to these measures, delivering protection levels close to that of the Mastiff in a package that gives better access to urban areas.

£500 million of the funding for the Protected Mobility Package has been allocated from the Treasury Reserve while Defence will fund a part of the package in acknowledgement of the long-term benefit to core defence capability these vehicles offer beyond our current commitments

This was a recognition that vehicle protection was high on the priority list and the previous blind defence of Snatch, Vector and WMIK Land Rovers was simply no longer in any way tenable. Meanwhile, Mastiff had transformed mobility, despite its size and weight and in 2008, the Coyote Tactical Support Vehicle was also unveiled to complement Jackal. The MoD announced a further £74 million order of 110 Jackal 2’s and 70 Coyote Tactical Support Vehicle (Light). An order for 200 International MXT vehicles was confirmed in a £200 million contract, going on to be called Husky.

With these now in the pipeline, the MoD returned to the long-overdue requirement to replace the Snatch, specifically the Snatch Vixen, the Light Protected Vehicle Competition was launched with a Pre-Qualification Questionnaire issued in June. Bids had to be in by the end of July, the MoD was not messing about although the scoping studies had been in progress for some time.

The requirement was described as:

Mastiff levels of protection in a 7-tonne vehicle, with a footprint roughly the same as a Land Rover

Prospective competitors included;

  • Supacat with a new design,
  • Force Protection with a new design,
  • Creation/Babcock with Zephyr,
  • Renault/Land Rover with Sherpa,
  • Oshkosh with Sandcat,
  • Iveco with a development of the LMV,
  • BAE with RG32,
  • General Dynamics with Eagle.

The Light Protected Patrol Vehicle (LPPV) contenders continued with their media displays, by 2010, the competition had been whittled down to the Supacat SPV400 and Force Protection Ocelot. The bid submission deadline for the Light Protected Patrol Vehicle was the end of June.

Supacat recognised that the HMT400 (Jackal) platform would not offer the required levels of IED protection and created a completely new vehicle, the SPV400. Navistar announced an additional £33 million order from the MoD in September 2010 for 89 Husky Tactical Support Vehicle (Medium).

Force Protection eventually won the Light Protected Patrol Vehicle (LPPV) competition. The MoD announcement confirmed their status as the preferred bidder and in November an £180 million order was placed for 200 Ocelots, to be called Foxhounds. Designed, developed and built in the UK by Force Protection Europe and Ricardo plc, together with Team Ocelot partners Thales, QinetiQ, Formaplex, DSG and Sula, Ocelot was claimed to be, weight for weight, the best protected and most agile vehicle of its kind. Its turning circle is very small, a vital characteristic for the type of urban terrain these were to be used in. If we go back to the source of much of the Snatch controversy was the need for a small vehicle that could navigate narrow streets in urban areas.

Foxhound was a genuinely innovative ‘clean sheet’ design, its armoured ‘skateboard’ spine held the transmission components and the interchangeable body ‘pods’ are fitted to it. The vehicle can be re-roled or easily repaired by simply swapping these modules and components. Ocelot was also compliant with the MoD’s emerging Generic Vehicle Architecture standard to simplify future systems integration and maintenance.

The initial uses were simply as a Snatch 2A/Snatch Vixen replacement, 200 as a UOR and an additional 200 to follow.

The first Foxhound vehicles were deployed to Afghanistan in 2012.

The UOR into Core programme for protected mobility continued with the announcement of an RFP for fleet conversion;

To provide Fleet Conversion services for the Army’s Protected Mobility (PM) fleet of vehicles to achieve the correct variant mix to meet the requirements of the Army 2020 (A2020) Force Development Strategy, against the following vehicle types, hereafter known as ‘The Platforms’.

Mastiff – all variants,
Ridgeback – all variants,
Wolfhound – all variants,

Fleet Conversion.

Currently envisaged deliverables to include, but not be limited to:

Mastiff Troop Carrying Variant (MAS TCV) to Mastiff Enhanced Communications Variant (MAS ECV) Conversion,
Ridgeback Troop Carrying Variant (RBK TCV) to Ridgeback Command Variant (RBK CV) Conversion,
Wolfhound Explosive Ordinance Disposal (WHD EOD) variant to Wolfhound Military Working Dog (WHD MWD) variant Conversion,
Mastiff 1 to Mastiff 2 Conversion.

Cost Range: between 40 000 000 and 60 000 000 GBP

By the end of 2013, Foxhound had entered service and the MoD announced further orders, bringing the investment to £371 million and 400 vehicles. Also by the end of 2013, the MoD had announced that the vast majority of the protected mobility vehicles would be brought into core.

Foxhound is now in service, as are Mastiff and the others, except Vector and Tellar, which are now long gone.

Future Command and Liaison Vehicle (FCLV)

The requirement for a Ferret replacement was articulated in the Future Family of Light Armoured Vehicles (FFLAV) study and after that evolved to MRAV and TRACER, the leftover command and liaison requirement was left unfilled.

It would emerge in 2001 as the Future Command and Liaison Vehicle (FCLV), nominally fulfilling the role that the Alvis proposed the VBL for, and that was previously carried out with the Ferret which by this point was out of service.

The MoD even awarded a £1.5m risk reduction contract to Hunting Engineering, Alvis and Vickers in 2001 in order to mature and derisk proposals. 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

It was later announced the shortlist included the LMV, RG32 and ACMAT VLRB Ranger, despite the LMV having been inserted into the bid process relatively late.

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 in 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 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 Panther/Lince was a controversial decision, with many accusations in the press of ‘revolving door’s and inflated claims about UK manufactured content, jobs and supply chain etc.

In 2005 the controversy surrounding the Panther Future Command and Liaison Vehicle (FCLV) deepened as it became clear that the Iveco vehicle had been pushed by the MoD at a late stage, despite not being initially entered by any of the bidders and continued confusion about the amount of locally manufactured content. Although the £166 million contract did include some logistic support elements it was by then being unfavourably compared to a Swedish purchase of the RG-32M vehicle from Land Systems OMC. Using published costs from the Swedish ministry of defence, the equivalent contract value would have been less than £75 million for a vehicle that many argued had much better protection against mines and IED’s. RG-31 was a proven vehicle, the RG-32 simply an evolution of it.

A number of Bulldogs were fitted with Remote Weapon Stations from the Panther programme in 2006.

After an extensive TES package costing £20 million for 67 vehicles, Panther 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. The rest of the 401 strong Panther fleet were not deployed because of concerns regarding their vulnerability to IED’s.

BAe was awarded a £28 million contract in 2007 for support services on the Panther vehicle, to provide better availability and lower costs.

In April 2018, a press report claimed the MoD placed the entire fleet up for sale.

Operational Utility Vehicle System (OUVS)

The Operational Utility Vehicle System (OUVS) programme was launched in early 2003 to replace 12,000 Land Rovers (TUL/TUM), 1,000 Pinzgauers (TUM(HD)) and 850 Reynold Boughton RB44’s, all non-protected vehicles with a payload of up to 4 tonnes.

Announced at the 2003 Defence Vehicle Dynamics (DVD) show by Lord Bach, OUVS was intended to be a very large programme. Because OUVS was principally for non-protected vehicles and started during the same year as operations in Iraq, it was clear that it would be a difficult programme to progress. As the MoD was soon consumed with these operational demands, OUVS changed.

By 2008, quantities had increased to 16,000 and protection requirements increased.

Because OUVS was designed to replace both the two axle Land Rover (TUL) and two and three axle Pinzgauer (TUM), OUVS was defined by two payload classes, positioned to come just under the 6 tonne SV fleet;

  • OUVS (Small); 2-3 tonnes
  • OUVS (Large); 4-5 tonnes

The other high-level user requirement included the following;

  • Cab areas to accommodate the 95th percentile soldier
  • A reduction in the vehicle variants
  • Safety and emission specifications to include extra crashworthiness and fewer emissions
  • Vehicles to be ‘fitted for’ not ‘with’ physical protection such as armour
  • Crew compartment protection is the minimum requirement
  • NVG capable with 24/7 capability with an NVG compatible dashboard
  • Ability to carry a NATO Standard pallet or ULC weighing a maximum of 1.8 tonnes
  • Air portability by C130/A400M
  • Given a large amount of sophisticated electronic equipment including BOWMAN radios and IED detectors, the vehicle would be ESM optimised to prevent reduce interference. ECM fits would be GFE by the MoD, but the ability to fit ECM was mandated.
  • Good cross-country capability but this must not compromise road performance
  • Bidders should look at powered trailers or the addition of an additional axle to provide extra space and payload without reducing mobility.
  • The vehicle should be capable of a Battlefield Mission of up to 96 hours.

The ITT was to be issued in 2009 with Main Gate set for 2012 but manufacturers were briefed that OUVS would be an incremental programme over many years. It was also emphasised that OUVS vehicles would not be used as Protected Patrol Vehicles.

Indeed, this clear distinction between patrol and utility vehicles was reinforced by a Parliamentary Answer that described an earlier joint UK/USA working group.

Mr. Quentin Davies: Defence Ministers have not had any discussions with the US Administration about the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle programme. Since the establishment of the USA/UK Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV)/Operational Utility Vehicle System (OUVS) Working Group in July 2008, a number of discussions on participation have taken place by officials.

The JLTV capability is a replacement for HUMVEE and performs both a utility vehicle and patrol vehicle role. It, therefore, goes beyond the requirement for OUVS and the two parties have agreed that there is not enough synergy to warrant collaboration on the acquisition of vehicles at this time. The Working Group does, however; continue to share research and development between the two programmes.

The US Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) and German Armoured Multipurpose Vehicle (AMPV) were of interest to OUVS but were ultimately not considered because of this clear distinction. Because the programme was going to be so large, many manufacturers positioned themselves for one, the other, or both requirements.

Mercedes proposed a Unimog and G-Waggon combination. Land Rover entered a 6×6 Defender (a version of that in service with the Australian Army) whilst simultaneously introducing their Extra Heavy Duty Defender that could accommodate a gross vehicle weight of 4.5 tonnes with a 300amp power system. Thales proposed their Copperhead variant of the Bushmaster and Iveco, a new version of the LMV/Panther.

30 manufacturers that expressed an interest were narrowed to a shortlist in 2008/9, including Babcock, General Dynamics, IVECO, Krauss-Maffei Wegmann, Lockheed Martin, Mercedes and Navistar Defense.

Lockheed Martin proposed their unusual looking but reportedly very capable Adaptive Vehicle Architecture (AVA) vehicle. These were targeted at both the medium (4×4) and large (6×6) requirement. Both vehicles were based on a new chassis with upgraded mechanical components  The configuration was clearly based on the Supacat HMT but was larger and stronger. Plasan provided the cab design, Marshall the load bed, Babcock was involved in some aspects and so were Creation UK, in support of Lockheed Martin.

Renault and Land Rover announced they would partner, the down selected Renault Sherpa to be assembled at the Land Rover plant in Solihull. With Land Rover not making the cut, this was an obvious win for both parties, if only to lessen the political impact of selecting a French vehicle over the iconic British Land Rover, tough sell that one.

General Dynamics went with an Eagle IV and Duro IIIP combination and Navistar, their MXT, for both variants.

The RB44 was withdrawn from service in 2010, leaving the Land Rover and Pinzgauer vehicles remaining, joined by a small number of Mowag Duro for specialised roles. Various upgrade programmes have supported these vehicle fleets in the interim.

OUVS was then effectively cancelled with a deferral, there was simply too much going on in the Middle East and assumptions about minimal protection in OUVS, now simply untenable.

A 2010 Parliamentary Question addressed the deferral of OUVS

Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the effect of deferring the Operational Utility Vehicle System programme for two years; and what assessment he has made of the likely trends in (a) production and (b) deployment of small and medium support vehicles during that period.

Mr. Quentin Davies: The deferral of the Operational Utility Vehicle System (OUVS) competition will give the MOD the opportunity to consider the latest products from industry, including those from the companies that withdrew from the original OUVS competition. This will allow the MOD to determine the best method of delivering an operational utility vehicle capability for the future. During the period of the two year deferral, the Tactical Support Vehicles purchased as Urgent Operational Requirements will fulfil the OUVS role in Afghanistan. The Department will conduct a thorough review of the commercial and acquisition strategy for OUVS during 2010.

And that was the end of OUVS.


The programmes described above demonstrate the sheer breadth of vehicles that bisect the MRV-P programme, some directly, some less so.

If we look at the entirety of the British Army’s vehicle fleet there are sensible groupings to be seen.

Combat Tactical Support Protected Mobility Utility Cargo Non-Articulated Cargo Articulated Others
Challenger 2
Land Rover
Pinzgauer 6×6
Pinzgauer 4×4
SV (6, 9, 15 tonne)
C Vehicles


This is somewhat of an eclectic mix, it needs to be rationalised to drive down support costs, and in some these, replacement programmes are in hand.

The next section (Part 2) looks at the current programme to do just that, the Multi Role Vehicle (Protected)

Part 1 – History (this page)

Part 2 – The Current Programme (the next page)




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October 10, 2018 3:58 pm

Fantastic to see you back. It’s been a long time. I’ve missed reading this blog more than I thought. Keep up the great work

October 11, 2018 1:11 pm


Nice to be able to write to you again. A tremendous post: hugely informative and very accurate.

The part about the Future Command and Liaison vehicle brings back to me seeing a picture on the front page of “Preview” (the forerunner of “Desider” magazine), showing the five contenders for FCLV being trialled at at Bovington. They were the RG-31M and the RG- 32M from VDS; the ACMAT from the INSYS team; the SCARAB from Alvis and the MLV from IVECO.

It was a very great surprise when the IVECO vehicle won the competition. As you say, it was pushed by the MOD at a late stage. The Alvis SCARAB was a very good vehicle and seemed at one point to be the favourite. I remember talking to an Alvis representative down at one of the Aldershot shows and asking him at an early stage whether the British Army was interested and his reply was a very affirmative yes. I remember too hearing stories about that strange procurement decision, one of which was that Blair’s government wanted to push for a European solution. Any truth in that, do you think?

Carry on with the outstanding work. Best wishes. Mike

October 12, 2018 8:37 am

Thx TD, started with the ‘status’ report part, which was timely and very welcome.

Now gathering strength to read the history bit… by the length of it looks like the wk end is taken up! A small detail about the table at the end, which sort of forms the ‘bridge’ between Part 1 & 2: have you omitted Viking for the reason that it is solely operated by the RM?

October 12, 2018 11:23 pm

Thanks TD, fascinating stuff, as always!

October 13, 2018 4:28 pm

Winston is back!

Have to say that summary table makes for sorry reading I really don’t know how we make it so hard for ourselves.

Alan Erskine
Alan Erskine
October 14, 2018 10:43 am

You just couldn’t live without us, could you? ;-)

Rob Collinson
Rob Collinson
November 3, 2018 8:27 pm

Welcome Back!

A totally awesome site!

Keep up the fantastic work!

November 10, 2018 11:31 am

Very interesting article. I have been very close to this program as I worked on a few of the vehicles as far back as LPPV and as recently as last week!
It was very frustrating that many UK companies invested millions of their own cash into projects and not be considered. It even caused several of the smaller ones to go bankrupt.

Alan Adair
Alan Adair
March 16, 2019 1:22 pm

Interestingly the MRV-P was also presented disingenuously. The weights and performance are such that it only weighs less than 10 tons without armour, without load, and without doors. It was identified as suitable for armour forces, but not for light role or airborne forces by DSTL. Yet the proposal that went to Parliament indicated it was required for high readiness forces (airborne and commando).

The American light forces have chosen to not take the vehicle, preferring the GM Flyer.

The 10 ton requirement for underslinging represents the maximum weight a chinook can move at sea level, in temperate conditions, and for a distance of less than 50 miles – we have not fought many conflicts in those conditions. The Americans have chosen the Flyer because it can be fitted inside a chinook; making the vehicle suitable for air assault rather than underslinging which is for administrative moves. The flyer is also light enough to be air dropped.

Akin to the medium weight capability it seems to be developed without consideration of how it deploys as a capability rather than as an individual piece of equipment. The fact that 1 can fit in a C130 or A400M is irrelevant; can you fit enough in the available fleet of aircraft to give you a meaningful capability. The same applies as a gun limber – if it cannot be lifted with the gun it is pulling you require double the amount of aircraft/sorties, accruing additional risk, slowing tempo, and requiring greater resources.

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