British Army crews and commanders are training with the new Foxhound vehicles at Camp Bastion before the platform heads outside the wire. Report by Richard Long.
Foxhound, the Army's state-of-the-art light protected patrol vehicle, arrived in Helmand province last month. At Camp Bastion, soldiers from a variety of cap badges are engaged in training programmes to get to grips with the beast.
The cutting-edge technology incorporated in the design means soldiers will benefit from unprecedented blast protection and counter-IED (improvised explosive device) equipment, while the size and agility of the asset will allow it to excel in urban environments.
The new addition has impressed in a series of demanding trials and, with driver-testing now well underway, this dynamic machine is preparing to flex its muscles for real.
Former serviceman Ricky Haynes is the Defence School of Transport's Foxhound training team line manager. He said the patrol vehicle has performed superbly thus far, and that British Army personnel will receive a huge capability boost from its introduction to theatre:
"This platform will have a multitude of roles but initially it will be used for force protection out on the ground," he said.
"It is replacing some of the more vulnerable vehicles and those that have been removed from Helmand province.
"It is designed for an urban environment and has a four-wheel steer. It is proving to be very reliable. We have done trials in hot weather and extreme conditions and it has excelled.
"The V-shaped hull is similar to that of the Mastiff, and it offers increased protection as it throws the force of any blast wide of the vehicle.
"We brought some platforms out three weeks ago for light and extreme heat testing, as well as slow-speed trials to see how it reacts with the pace of foot patrols.
"The in-theatre standard has been extremely high and we are very confident it will perform well outside the wire."
Foxhound is equipped with infrared technology and thermal-imaging and has three screens inside the cab that offer a 360-degree view around the vehicle for high levels of situational awareness. The vehicle also boasts an extremely effective night-time capability, while its engine can be removed in the space of just 20 minutes should any mechanical problems arise. The rear compartment can comfortably seat up to four soldiers and offers storage space for daysacks and other kit.
Signaller Mark Lawrence of the Royal Corps of Signals was one of the first troops to get behind the wheel of Foxhound during the early driver-training programmes. He spoke in glowing terms about the platform:
"It is brilliant! I have driven Vixen a lot and compared to that it is outstanding," he said.
"From what I have seen so far it is superb, and the technology it has is sensational. It is nice to drive and there is a lot more space in the back.
"I can't wait to return to Kabul and drive it out there.
"Although I won't be going out on patrol, its performance cross-country is amazing and I cannot see it struggling.
"The soldiers out on the ground will be extremely happy."
The Ministry of Defence made an initial order for 200 Foxhound vehicles in November 2010, and a further 100 were requested late last year as part of a £400m package.
Source: Ministry of Defence (United Kingdom)
Date: Jul 4, 2012