By Shan Connors
To meet demands for ever-increasing protection levels and payload allowance, light armoured vehicles continue to increase in both size and weight.
Given the so-called asymmetric nature of ongoing multi-national deployments to Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere, some commentators have been quick to suggest that the once traditional ‘light’ utility-type vehicle with its average ≤4-tonne GVW has little or no future as a viable military asset in the ‘green fleet’ or tactical sense.
Such an assertion is almost certainly a little premature, and without doubt within those armed forces that fall a level or two below NATO-grade, it is almost impossible to foresee the day when no requirement for a vehicle of this weight class exists. Further, within the more capable NATO-grade armed forces there will almost certainly always be some green fleet (tactical/semi-tactical) roles that remain suited to such a vehicle type. However, what is most definitely clear from recent events is that for many roles far more substantial designs are now a prerequisite.
This feature will primarily focus on protected vehicles, but it should be noted the previously mentioned more substantial design requirement is most definitely not exclusive to protected vehicles. Even for roles where no protection is required, that ≤4-tonne GVW is all-to-often now being stretched. Quite simply more complex and space-filling equipment now has to be carried, and even the soldier now occupies more space than ever, with items such as body armour and other protective personal equipment now becoming almost standard issue.
Protect & Serve
Previous generation ?4-tonne GVW Snatch Land Rover-type protected designs will struggle to provide occupants with anything greater than basic ball ammunition ballistic protection, this complimented by little more than underbody protection from basic hand-grenades. And while such protection levels do remain satisfactory for some applications, on those previously mentioned ongoing multi-national deployments where the safety of the soldier (sadly partly as a political expedient…) has become paramount, newer designs offering far greater protection levels are now a mandatory requirement
Different armed forces have differing views as to what levels of protection should be provided, and how, and to accommodate this manufacturer’s offer an equally differing variety of designs, these with an equally wide range of capabilities, this feature will take a look at a selection of those designs. The author recognises that a feature of this type can never offer fully comprehensive in its coverage and acknowledges that some difficult selection choices were made throughout the editorial process, and that some designs comparable and equally as capable as those featured, have been omitted on the grounds of available space.
From the current batch of better-protected designs that are currently in-service and available two examples that are perhaps closest in overall configuration and design style to the earlier Snatch Land Rover-types are Panhard’s Petit Véhicule Protégé (PVP) and Mercedes-Benz’s LAPV 5.4.
Mercedes-Benz’s LAPV 5.4 was developed in conjunction with Armoured Car Systems (ACS) of Germany, and was initially targeted at Germany’s GFF Group 1 requirement (GFF -Geschutzte Fuhrungs und Funktionsfahrzeug (Armoured Command-and-Control Vehicle)). The aim of the four-segment GFF programme (GFF 1 to GFF 4) is to provide the German Army with four weight classes of wheeled vehicles that are better equipped to deal with current threats and operating environments than currently fielded vehicles.
To date 127 (45 + 82) LAPV 5.4 have been ordered by the German Army, the type known as Enok in service. Under GFF 1 an initial 45 vehicles were ordered, with a further 82 vehicles now on order for the Military Police. Military Police deliveries, which include a small number of specialist dog