Defence Secretary John Hutton has announced a package worth =A3700 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 =A3350 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 =A3700 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.
=A396 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.
Announcing the new vehicles, Defence Secretary John Hutton said:
"Getting the right vehicles and equipment to our Armed Forces has always been an absolute priority. Today's multi-million pound package shows that we are responding to new and changing threats on the ground and will provide our serving personnel with the highest levels of protection and mobility that technology will allow.
"I have seen first-hand the difference our Mastiff and Jackals are already making to our troops in Afghanistan; the arrival of 700 new vehicles will improve even further their ability to move cross-country and provide vital support with the utmost protection to our existing vehicle fleets."
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 Ridgback.
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, especially 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 Ridgback, 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.
=A3500 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 longer term benefit to core defence capability these vehicles offer beyond our current commitments.