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By Julian Nettlefold

14 Apr 10. The traditional pre-DVD driving season was launched on Tuesday by Supacat with a demonstration of their vehicles at Long Valley.

The centrepiece of the demonstration was the unveiling of Supacat protected vehicle (SPV400) as a contender for the UK MoDlight protected patrol vehicle (LPPV) programme.

The MoD is expected to order an initial batch of 200 vehicles, which would be scheduled to enter service in early 2011 under an urgent operational requirement.

The SPV400 provides exceptional protection to UK troops from improvised
explosive devices (IEDs) on operations in Afghanistan. The vehicle combines an integrated blast and ballistic protection system including an all-composite protected crew pod and V-shaped hull, with
exceptional cross country mobility in tight urban environments.

Supacat managing director Nick Ames said the SPV400 was purpose designed for LPPV and offered a 21st-century solution for operations.

“Its clean-sheet design is “future-proofed” and can be upgraded to exceed the present LPPV requirements for protection and mobility,” he said.

“The UK MoD’s selection of a vehicle for the LPPV programme is being closely followed by several countries, underlining the considerable export potential for a vehicle in this class.”

The 7.5t SPV400 can carry a crew of six and is capable of travelling at a top speed of 80mph. The SPV400 has the same Cummins engine as the Jackal and a new air suspension system designed by Supacat.

The Editor was taken for a drive in the SPV400 around Long Valley. What was noticeable was the lack of clunking when the vehicle enters ruts. The air suspension enabled the composite vehicle to glide ocver the bumps and ditches. The lack of metal components gives SPV400 a huge advantage over its competitors as when encountering an IED or mine there are no metal fragments flying through the cabin.

Jamie Clarke of Supacat told BATTLESPACE that the SPV400 has a unique engine configuration encased in a ‘V’ shaped hull under the NP designed composite pod. “The front and back drive linkages to the gearbox sheer off in the event of a mine blast which means that they fly away from the pod which remains static, unlike other vehicles.”

Roger Medwell, CEO of NP Aerospace was present at the demo to see the NP-designed pod put through its paces. Roger told BATTLESPACE that NP had shelved, for the moment, development of its Phoenix vehicle and will concentrate on supporting Supacat’s LPPV bid. The SPV400 will be built at an assembly line at NP’s Coventry works.

The composite pod enables the SPV400 to offer considerable ballistic protection at a GVW of 7 tonnes. In addition the vehicle can accommodate add on armour panels offering greater blast or ballistic protection. Supacat did not reveal the Stanag level of the vehicle but it will protect the occupants from a 50kg mine blast and 7.62 attack.
Having had the SPV400 tour, the Editor was offered a drive in the Coyote 6×6 Jackal vehicle. Having just got off a flight from the USA, the Editor can recommend the Coyote as a way to get over any jet lag!

In 2009, the Editor took the Jackal 4×4 round the Long Valley test track and was amazed by the performance. The last time he drove a 6×6 vehicle around Long Valley was in the SMC Sandringham 6 138 inch 6×6 Land Rover in 1980.

The Coyote demonstrated its versatility and load carrying abilities over the roughest part of the track. The vehicle is amply suited for its TSV role in Afghanistan but will surely be eyed by the MoD for other roles such as a weapon and missile carrier and comms vehicle and a contender for the role of a Recce vehicle. The performance far outmatched any medium truck tested by the Editor.

As an aside, the Editor discussed the current MoD FRES Scout requirement and questions were raised as to the rationale of using a 40 tonne tracked vehicle as a recce vehicle when the tracks and roads around the

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