The British Defence Secretary, John Hutton announced today over £700m for an extra 700 vehicles to protect the safety of troops on duty in Afghanistan.

The defence minister described the provision of new vehicles as an ‘absolute priority’.

“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,” Hutton said.

The £700m budget includes; £350m for over 400 new armoured tactical support vehicles (TSV). The three TSV categories are the Wolfhound, a heavy armoured support truck, used for supporting and resupplying Mastiffs in the highest threat areas, the Husky, a mobile medium support truck for low-threat zones and the Coyote, a light armoured support vehicle used to support the Jackal vehicles over harsh terrain.

Over 100 new Warthog armour reinforced cross-country vehicles will also be supplied. These vehicles will replace the Viking in Afghanistan as the extremely agile all-terrain, armed off-road vehicle of choice.

A £96m specialist route-clearing system, which includes the Buffalo mine-protected vehicle, will also give forces improved capabilities in dealing with improvised explosive devices (IED).

All these vehicles have the highest level of mine blast protection currently available, a necessity, as the death toll of British troops stationed in Afghanistan has risen to 121, with a huge proportion of these deaths linked to IED, mine and roadside bomb explosions.

Hutton showed his awareness of the risk to troops from such explosions.”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,” he said.

In addition to the new vehicles, a series of new upgrades and modifications were also announced.

These include; modifications to 30 4×4 and 6×6 purchased Cougar vehicles, mobility and protection modifications to the Panther vehicles, and the specially designed Snatch-Vixen, which has enhanced load capacity, mobility and protection to suit the Afghan terrain

By Daniel Garrun.