British Army
Army

Know Your Army – Tanks, Trucks And Other Vehicles

A look at many of the ground vehicles used by the British Army.

British Army

An army marches on its stomach, as the saying goes, but in the modern British Army soldiers are often carried into battle by combat vehicles.

Furthermore, for those that do march, the food that keeps them going is also brough to them by a range of support vehicles.

This is a look at the vast range of different land vehicles the British Army uses, from battle tanks to MAN truck support vehicles, as well as a comparison of them.

For a look at the British Army’s basic oranisational structure and a look at its main weapons, take a look at Know Your Army – Weapons And Organisation here.

Fighting Vehicles

The main element of any fleet of vehicles in any army will always be its fighting vehicles, of which the British Army has a wide range for transporting foot soldiers to battle, and supporting them once they are there.

The first and most preeminent of these is the Army’s main battle tank, the Challenger 2.

The main role of the Challenger is for its crew – the commander, gunner, loader and driver – to find, take on and destroy enemy tanks.

Challengers are operated by four of the British Army’s armoured regiments, based either at Tidworth in Wiltshire or Bovington in Dorset.

These are the Queen’s Royal Hussars, the King’s Royal Hussars, the Royal Wessex Yeomanry and the Royal Tank Regiment, the names of the first three reflecting the historical conversion from cavalry to armoured units, and the last one of course being a purposely formed tank unit.

Nowadays, all four of these regiments control 56 Challenger 2s each, for a total of 224 in the British Army as a whole. The Ministry Of Defence (MOD) lists 227 in its possession as of 2021, leaving three spare.

The Challenger 2’s main weapon is the gun in its turret, an L30A1, which fires a 120mm shell, though it also has the 7.62mm L94A1, which is coaxial with the L30A1 main gun (as in, it turns along with it), and a 7.62mm L37A2 gun mounted in front of the operator (or loader’s) hatch on the top of the turret.

Both secondary weapons are essentially machine guns, though technically the L94A1 is actually a chain gun. This means it functions slightly differently to a machine gun, using a chain drive to re-cock the weapon after each round is fired, as opposed to the mode of action of a regular machine gun which is for it to be re-cocked by the energy from each spent (fired) round.

A close-up look at the Army's Challenger 2 main battle tank

As well as the Challenger, the Army also has a number of smaller armoured fighting and reconnaissance vehicles as well as APCs (Armoured Personnel Carriers) with which to transport and support its troops.

One of these is a kind of light tank known as the Scimitar, also known as a CVR(T) – Combat Vehicle Reconnaissance (Tracked) – a classification into which it and several other British Army vehicles fall (see just below for more on the other vehicles in this series.)

In the case of the Scimitar, true to its classification as a recon vehicle, it serves with both the Royal Armoured Corps and some mechanised infantry in a reconnaissance role. This is something for which its high speed, small size and low ground pressure make it ideally suited, since it can travel over difficult terrain quickly.

It is armed with both a 30mm L21 Rarden cannon and a (coaxial) 7.62mm general purpose machine gun (GPMG), as well as smoke grenades. It has a crew of three to load and operate these weapons, as well as to drive the vehicle.

British Army light tank
Members of the Household Cavalry Regiment using a Scimitar during Exercise Iron Scout 3 in 2016 (picture: MOD)

The Scimitar’s numerical designation is FV107, and this allows one to distinguish more easily between it and other types of CVR(T)s within the British Army. The other kinds of CVR(T)s in use by the Army are the FV103 Spartan, which is a small APC (Armoured Personnel Carrier) that can move its crew of three plus four members of a specialised team (i.e. reconnaissance specialists or air defence sections or mortar fire controllers) to where they are needed; the FV104 Samaritan, an ambulance version of the CVR(T) with a crew of two and room for four stretchers; the FV105 Sultan, a command-vehicle; and FV106 Samson, which is an armoured recovery vehicle.

In contrast to the Spartan, the Warrior Infantry Fighting Vehicle, also known as the MCV-80, serves as a larger APC, being able to keep up with the Challenger 2 tank while transporting seven infantry forward to battle. These soldiers would typically be part of either armoured or mechanised infantry regiments (see part one for more on this.)

Other than the Bulldog, discussed just below, the Warrior is the most numerous combat vehicle within the Army, with the MOD listing 767 of them in 2021 (as opposed to 880 Bulldogs.)

Though, to be completely precise, the Warrior is actually a collection of vehicles in the same series, with the FV510 Warrior being the primary, basic vehicle. The Warrior was brought in to replace a previous APC (the FV432), which was unable to keep up with the Challenger tank.

The MOD notes that the Warrior has been highly successful in this role, providing good mobility and protection not only for the infantry but also for other kinds of troops. These include members of REME (the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers) and the Royal Artillery when they have been part of battlegroups (a battlegroup being an infantry battalion or armoured regiment with support elements added to make it more autonomous on the battlefield.)

The Warrior is armed with a 30mm Rarden cannon on its turret - which can punch through lightly armoured vehicles at a range of up to 1,500 metres - as well as eight 94mm HEAT (High Explosive Anti Tank) rockets that are carried inside the vehicle.

British Army
Infantry departing a Warrior during Exercise Lion Strike in 2014 (picture: MOD)

Supplementing the Warrior is the just-mentioned Bulldog, which is also an APC and therefore transports troops into battle, freeing up the higher-performing Warrior to go where it is specifically required.

For its part, the Bulldog has a 7.62mm machine gun and dischargers for smoke grenades, a crew of two and it can carry eight passengers who can enter or disembark it via roof hatches or a rear door.

The vehicle currently in use is technically called the Mark 3 Bulldog, and is designated as the FV430, being part of the same series of APCs the Warrior was brought in to replace (specifically, the FV432.) Other vehicles from the 430 series also remain in service, performing a variety of different roles from recovery vehicles to ambulances, and from mortar carriers to control vehicles.

British Army light tank
A Bulldog Mk3 FV430 in Iraq (picture: MOD)

Another vehicle partially in the APC series is the Stormer. This is essentially a modified FV103 Spartan that, instead of actually being used as an APC, has been turned into a mobile anti-aircraft weapons platform. In this capacity it is known as the Alvis Stormer and the weapon it carries is the Starstreak HVM (High Velocity Missile), an anti-aircraft missile launcher.

As well as its tanks and APCs, the Army also has a range of protected mobility vehicles, used for patrolling or reconnaissance.

Two of these are the four-wheeled Jackal (or Jackal 2) and a related vehicle known as the Coyote, which is essentially an extended Jackal with six wheels. Both are armoured, open-topped reconnaissance vehicles designed to move equipment and personnel (three in the case of the Jackal, and four to five in the case of the Coyote) over rough terrain at speed, while also protecting them from mines and roadside bombs. Both vehicles are also armed with a GPMG (General Purpose Machine Gun) as well as either a heavy machine gun or a grenade machine gun. Jackals and a small number of Coyotes are also used by the Royal Marines.

Area survey and reconnaissance is performed by the six-wheeled, armoured FUCHS, or TPz Fuchs, which was designed, made and developed in Germany (fuchs is German for ‘fox’.) It is a CBRN vehicle (Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear), designed to be able to detect radiation or signs of chemical or biological weapons so that safe corridors can be established for movement on the battlefield. This means the FUCHS is part of the activity of the Royal Engineers, though it is actually driven by members of Falcon Squadron, who come from the Royal Tank Regiment.

British Army vehicle
A FUCHS on exercise in Jordan (picture: MOD)

The Foxhound (or Ocelot), meanwhile, is similar to the Jackal in that it is a four-wheeled vehicle with protection against IEDs and resistance to mines, though its protection is in part a function of its unique V-shaped hull that deflects the force of any blast away from the vehicle.

Unlike the Jackal, the Foxhound also has overhead protection, making it similar in this regard to other wheeled armoured vehicles in the British Army such as the Mastiff and Ridgeback, though the Foxhound is more agile than these other vehicles. In fact, it was brought in as a replacement for the Snatch Land Rover because it provides better protection against IEDs.

The Foxhound has an attached GPMG and can carry six – a crew of two as well as four passengers within its rear pod, which, uniquely, is modular and can be replaced as needed to meet certain mission requirements. Its special-role pods are designed for utility, weapons carrying, logistics and command roles.

RAF Vehicles
As noted, a number of the vehicles covered here are shared with the other services – this Foxhound is being used being used by the Royal Air Force Regiment (picture: MOD)

The Navistar International MXT-MV (Military Extreme Truck – Military Version), or Husky, is a protected support vehicle armed with a GPMG or a heavy machine gun or grenade machine gun and that can carry four crew as well as supplies in a rear trailer section. This can be used to transport food, water and ammunition, while the Husky may also serve as a command vehicle.

So too can the Panther (or Iveco LMV – Light Multirole Vehicle), which is an armoured command vehicle, often used by officers in cavalry or armoured units as well as those in command of mortar, anti-tank, or supporting fire platoons or engineers. It can carry four people, including the driver, and it too is usually armed with a regular 7.62mm GPMG and can also have this upgraded to the .50-calibre heavy machine gun if required.

The next three vehicles are related in that they are variants of the Cougar MRAP (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected) that are meant to protect troops and equipment, largely from IEDs. The first of these is the six-wheeled Mastiff, now on its third iteration which can carry 10 people, two crew members and eight passengers.

This is an improvement over the previous model, which could only carry a total of eight, as is a number of other upgraded features such increased stowage space and improved situational awareness through thermal imaging for the driver.

British Army vehicle
A Mastiff Mk3 in Helmand in 2012 (picture: MOD)

Another vehicle very similar to the Mastiff is the Wolfhound, since it too is based on the Cougar MRAP and is also a six-wheeled, heavily armoured truck. According to the MOD, it is also related to the Coyote and the Husky (despite being rather different in appearance) due to all three being TSVs (Tactical Support Vehicles.)

TSVs are often involved in accompanying front-line troops while they are on patrol, carrying necessary supplies like ammunition and water, as well as people (in the case of the Wolfhound, that means two crew members and up to 10 passengers.) Additionally, the Wolfhound can also carry heavy, bulky stores forward for building forward bases, and it can tow the L118 105mm Light Gun for the Royal Artillery.

The four-wheeled Ridgeback, meanwhile, is also a lot like the Mastiff but slightly smaller, and it comes in three of its own variants: one for carrying troops, like the Mastiff, another allowing it to serve as a command vehicle, and a third battlefield ambulance variant.

Both the Mastiff and Ridgeback have Bowman radios, which allow for communications between headquarters and fighting units through a range of frequencies, from High, to Very High to Ultra High Frequency. They are also both capable of being armed with GPMGs, .50-calibre heavy machine guns or machine grenade launchers.

British Army vehicle
A Ridgeback in Aldershot in 2009 (picture: MOD)

As well as the combat vehicles listed here, the Army is in the process of getting a new armoured vehicle known as the Ajax, a high-tech fighting vehicle with 360° Situational Awareness Systems as well as thermal imagers and cameras to help enhance the battlefield awareness capabilities of its crew.

A Comparison Of The Army’s Land Combat Vehicles:

Vehicle name

Length

Weight (minus cargo, passengers)

Max Speed (on roads)

Max Range

Challenger 2

13.5 metres (with gun forward)

62.5 tonnes

37 mph

340 miles

FV107 Scimitar

4.9 metres

7.8 tonnes

50 mph

398 miles

FV103 Spartan

5.1 metres

8.2 tonnes

50 mph

300 miles

FV104 Samaritan

5 metres

8.7 tonnes

45 mph

300 miles

FV105 Sultan

4.8 metres

8.3 tonnes

50 mph

398 miles

FV106 Samson

4.8 metres

8.7 tonnes

45 mph

466 miles

Warrior

6.3 metres

25.7 tonnes

47 mph

410 miles

Bulldog

5.5 metres

13 tonnes

44 mph

373 miles

Stormer

5.6 metres

13.5 tonnes

50 mph

373 miles

Jackal 2

5.8 metres

5.5 tonnes

75 mph

500 miles

Coyote

7 metes

6.6 tonnes

75 mph

435 miles

FUCHS

6.8 metres

17 tonnes

65 mph

500 miles

Foxhound

5.3 metres

7.5 tonnes

70 mph

373 miles

Husky

6.4 metres

7.2 tonnes

70 mph

398 miles

Panther

5.5 metres

7 tonnes

81 mph

311 miles

Mastiff

7.9 metres

23.6 tonnes

65 mph

416 miles

Ridgeback

5.9 metres

19.5 tonnes

65 mph

420 miles

British Army vehicle
A Stormer combat vehicle with Starstreak (or HVM) on top (picture: MOD)

Non-Combat Vehicles

Vitally important as they are, the Army’s combat vehicles and personnel would not be able to operate without logistical and engineering support, and there is also a range of vehicles helping to perform these functions.

According to the MOD, the main workhorse for much of this behind-the-scenes logistical support is the SV, or Support Vehicle, also known as the LSV – Logistical Support Vehicle.

More specifically, this is a small group of different trucks made by MAN and Bus UK that come in 6 tonne, 9 tonne and 15 tonne varieties as well as a Unit Support Tanker (UST) and a Recovery Vehicle. To give a sense of scale, the MOD records there being 7,009 6, 9 and 15-tonne SVs in UK military service as of 2021, the highest number of any vehicle type. (The bulk of these serve with the Army, though other services will account for some of this overall figure – for instance, the Royal Marines also use SVs). One kind of SV, the 6-tonne HX60, is outlined in the table below.

British Army trucks
HX60 MAN Trucks with 157 Regiment, Royal Logistic Corps, in Germany in 2016 (picture: MOD)

Another, the 15-tonne variant, has a further variant of its own called the EPLS (Enhanced Pallet Loading System), which has a flatrack payload. This is essentially a flat, detachable platform that rests on the back of the truck. On this platform, it is possible to quickly load or unload equipment of over 20,000 kg in weight, or to rest an entire 20-foot-long ISO shipping container. With such considerable carrying capacity, it is not surprising that the MOD says this particular Support Vehicle is the logistical backbone of the British Army.

For tank transportation, the Army also has 182 HETs (Heavy Equipment Transporters), which are also known as Oshkosh 1070Fs and are capable of hauling 70-tonne battle tanks like the Challenger. According to the MOD, it is the most powerful tank transporter in production. Its carrying capacity actually comes in two parts – its Oshkosh 1070F 8x8 tractor truck and an accompanying King (semi) Trailer.

As well as being able to haul 72,000 kg, the HET can also carry a large number of personnel – its two crew plus 10 passengers.

Oshkosh trucks also serve within the Army as Close Support Tankers and are also known as MTVRs (or Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacements.) Their role is to carry fuel and water supplies to where they are required.

Another commonplace vehicle used by the Army is the Land Rover.

The MOD lists 6,756 as being in use by the UK military in 2021, and many of these serve with the Army, in a variety of different variants and capacities. As well as the standard Wolf Land Rover (profiled in the table just below), there are also, for instance, Land Rover Battlefield Ambulances that have the capacity to carry four wounded soldiers on stretchers, or six in a seated position. The Land Rovers also have high-level medical facilities to enable first-aid before transportation to a hospital.

Another variant is the RWMIK Land Rover (RWMIK standing for Revised Weapons Mounted Installation Kit), which can carry a mounted GPMG, .50-calibre heavy machine gun or grenade machine gun and can therefore serve in a fire support, reconnaissance or convoy escort role.

British Army land rover
Reservists with the Queen's Own Yeomanry in an RWMIK Land Rover in 2015 (picture: MOD)

Casualty evacuation is also carried out on a smaller scale by a much smaller vehicle. The Army has a number of quad bikes and trailers that can be employed to carry casualties away from the battlefield two at a time. These vehicles and their trailers are also used to take supplies to front-line positions at speed and often over difficult terrain.

Supplies are also towed into position by a number of Pinzgauer utility vehicles, which come in the 4x4 and 6x6 variety (the former is profiled in the table below.) The Royal Artillery use Pinzgauers to tow weapons like the L118 Light Gun or the Rapier.

The Army also has a number of larger, specialist vehicles.

One of these is the M3 Amphibious Bridging Vehicle which, as the name suggests, is used for crossing water. The M3 does this in two ways: it can either act like a ferry, crossing water as a single boat; or it can form part of a larger bridge across a narrow body of water. It does this by driving into water and then joining together with other M3 Amphibious Bridging Vehicles. In this way, eight M3s can be joined together to form a 100-metre-long bridge, a structure that, when fully assembled, is capable of supporting the weight of a Challenger tank driving across it.

British Army bridging vehicle
An M3 Amphibious Bridging Vehicle shown in Germany in 2017 (picture: MOD)

As well as the M3, the Army also has a number of other bridges transported by truck. These are known as BR90 bridges and they are made of modular, interlocking components that can be combined to enable personnel and vehicles to cross gaps of up to 60 metres. Like a fully-assembled bridge made of M3s, BR90 bridges are also designed to support vehicles up to the weight of a Challenger 2 tank.

The Army also has a trio of engineering vehicles called the Terrier, the Titan and the Trojan. The Terrier is the smallest of the three and serves as a digger for constructing anti-tank ditches and obstacles, as well as trenches. It also clears obstacles, and the MOD calls it the Army’s most advanced engineering vehicle. As of 2021 there are 56 in MOD possession.

British Army engineering vehicle
A Terrier armoured digger at work during Exercise Wessex Storm, 2021 (picture: MOD)

The Titan and Trojan meanwhile, of which the MOD has 33 and 32, respectively, are both based on the chassis of Challenger tanks. The Trojan’s role is to clear paths through minefields as well as opening up routes through complex obstacles on the battlefield, while the Titan is designed for plugging gaps in the battlefield – literally. It lays down close support bridges (BR-90s) so that personnel and vehicles can cross gaps of up to 60 metres.

As well as the Titan and Trojan, there is also the Challenger Armoured Repair and Recovery Vehicle (CRARRV), another engineering vehicle based on the Challenger tank chassis. As the name suggests, this vehicle is designed to repair and recover tanks from the battlefield.

British Army exercise with simulated explosion and fire
Royal Engineers use a Trojan during an exercise on Salisbury Plain in 2019 (picture: MOD)

Finally, on the other end of the size scale, the Army has a miniature tracked vehicle known as a Dragon Runner that is used to detect and de-active IEDs. It rounds out an impressive array of both combat and support vehicles that allow the British Army to operate at a high level on today’s battlefields.

British Army Germany engineers
M3 bridges can be even longer than 100 metres - shown here is a 250-metre bridge in Germany made from 21 M3s put together by personnel from 75 Engineer Regiment and the German Bundeswehr 130 Pionerbataillon in 2017 (picture: MOD)

A Comparison Of The Army’s Land Non-Combat Vehicles:

Vehicle name

Length

Weight (minus cargo, passengers)

Max Speed (on roads)

Max Range

MAN HX60 SV

7.6 metres

6 Tonnes

55 mph

500 miles

HET

20 metres (with trailer); 9 metres (without trailer)

18.6 tonnes

45 mph

323 miles

Wolf Land Rover (TUM)

4.6 metres

1.6 tonnes

99 mph

355 miles

Pinzgauer (4x4)

4.2 metres

2.1 tonnes

68 mph

273 miles

M3 Bridging Vehicle

13 metres

26 tonnes

50 mph (on roads); 8.7 mph (on water)

466 miles

Terrier

6 metres

30 tonnes

50 mph

373 miles

Titan

11 metres

60 tonnes (with bridge)

34 mph

311 miles

Trojan

8.3 metres

62.5 tonnes

37 mph

280 miles

CRARRV

9.6 metres

62 tonnes

37 mph

311 miles

To learn more about the Army, read the first and third parts of the Know Your Army series on its weapons and organisation, and on its boats and aircraft

And to learn about the Royal Navy, check out the Know Your Navy series herehere and here.

Cover image: A Challenger 2 from the Queens Royal Hussars regiment (picture: MOD)

British Army truck and engineering tank recovery vehicle
An Oshkosh 1070F carrying a CRARRV in Oman (picture: MOD)
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