The Ministry of Defence has signed a £180 million contract for 200 new light patrol vehicles to replace the Army’s Snatch Land Rovers.
The MoD said the new vehicle – to be named the Foxhound – would offer unprecedented levels of blast protection for a vehicle of its size and weight.
The Army has been under pressure to find a replacement for Snatch, which has proved highly vulnerable to roadside bombs used by insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The chief of defence materiel, General Sir Kevin O’Donoghue, said that the new vehicle had been specifically designed to protect against the threats faced by troops in Afghanistan.
He said: “For example, its V-shaped hull will help it withstand the kinds of explosions caused by Taliban bombs. Foxhound is ideal for current operational needs but is also a valuable addition to our range of vehicles and will serve our armed forces for many years to come.”
The vehicle – which has been designed, developed and built in the UK by Force Protection Europe and Ricardo plc – incorporates Formula One racing technology and was devised by engineers from the World Rally Championship, McLaren F1 and BMW.
The engine can be removed and replaced in just 30 minutes and it can drive away from an ambush on only three wheels. The crew and passengers sit inside a protective pod, which can be rapidly adapted to enable the Foxhound to be used as an ambulance or supply truck.
The first vehicles are expected to be available for troop training from next year.
Defence equipment and support minister Peter Luff welcomed the signing of the contract.
“It shows the real progress that’s being made to ensure our frontline troops are able to use these versatile and highly-protected vehicles as soon as possible,” he said.