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24 Jul 06. U.K. Defence Secretary, Des Browne, today unveiled a package of new equipment to help protect UK Forces in Iraq and Afghanistan following an armoured vehicles review.

This will include: the purchase of around 100 additional Pinzgauer’Vector’ for Afghanistan, on top of the 66 already on contract, with deliveries to begin early in 2007; the provision, for Iraq, of around 70 uparmoured and upgraded FV430 troop carriers, in addition to the 54 already on contract, with deliveries starting late this year and building up to a mechanised infantry battlegroup by Spring 2007; and the acquisition of around 100 of a new medium weight vehicle, ‘Cougar’, which is manufactured by Force Protection Incorporated of Charleston, South Carolina, and is expected to be delivered to Iraq and Afghanistan in batches over the next six month rotation, with an effective capability in place in Iraq by the end of the year.

This new package emerged from the urgent review ordered by the Defence Secretary last month, and builds on work that had been ongoing with the MoD. Complementing heavily armoured Warriors and lighter Snatch patrol vehicles, these new vehicles will give commanders on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan more options to deal with the developing threats they are facing.

Des Browne said: “The protection of our Forces is a top priority. I have made clear my determination to provide commanders on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan with the resources they need to do the job. Military operations are inherently risky and armour is only the innermost layer in the force protection system. But this package of new equipment shows we are doing everything possible to provide our troops with some of the best protection available.

“May I take this opportunity to congratulate all those within the MoD for their excellent work in assessing the available options and sourcing an excellent solution to our soldiers’ requirements.”

The Defence Secretary’s armoured vehicles review was announced on 26th June 2006. Funding will come in part from acceleration and re-prioritisation of existing resources, and in part from substantial new funding from the Treasury.

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

Cougar meets the requirement for a well protected, wheeled patrol vehicle with a less intimidating profile than tracked vehicles like Warrior or FV430. Once the vehicles are delivered they will be customised with essential Bowman radios and electronic counter-measures – and then fitted with additional armour beyond the standard level, to ensure they have the best possible protection.

Before the announcement today, the Ministry of Defence had already spent over £527m on Urgent Operational Requirements for Iraq and Afghanistan designed to improve force protection. This is in addition to the planned £6bn annual defence procurement budget.

Comment: The Cougar buy had been ‘doing the rounds’ at Eurosatory with a source suggesting that he had overheard the news during an unguarded moment at a dinner. In addition we reported on the increased FV430 in our BATTLESPACE MILITARY VEHICLE NEWS Vol. 5 Issue 5, 03 July 2006, DVD 2006 NEWS, DAY 2, FRES DISPLINTEGRATES). This is good news for both BAE, Team Leader for the 430 Requirement and sub-contractor ABRO, which offsets continuing delays in FRES, if indeed with this news, it ever happens in its current form. BATTLESPACE understands that a release was due to go out during DVD but was delayed until today.

The MoD could not confirm which company would be responsible for support of the Force Protection Cougar vehicles, although they stated that the

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