Britain cans Vector “protected patrol vehicle”

Britain is withdrawing its entire fleet of Pinzgauer Vector protected patrol vehicles from Afghanistan because the flat-bottomed 6×6 armoured trucks have failed to protect troops from roadside bombs and were plagued by technical snags, Britain’s authoritative Financial Times reports.

The paper adds the “Vector, designed by Armor Holdings, now a unit of BAE Systems, was intended to give British troops a safer and more manoeuvrable patrol vehicle after concerns emerged about the safety of lightly armoured Snatch Land Rovers.” reports the MoD bought 100 of the vehicles in terms of an Urgent Operational Requirement contract in July 2006 for £100 million to augment 66 already in service.

“We intend to withdraw Vector from operations in Afghanistan. This will be a phased withdrawal and will not lead to any capability gap,” a MoD spokesperson said.

The FT adds that a National Audit Office report found commanders are now reluctant to use the armoured trucks “after losing confidence in their security”.

At least two soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan after their Vectors were hit by roadside bombs in 2007 and 2008.

The MoD said the Vector was a “versatile and agile vehicle”, but noted that an evolving threat from larger roadside bombs had “led to a requirement for more medium and heavy capability vehicles to withstand these devices”.

The vehicle ran into difficulties when it was introduced in Afghanistan in April 2007 and Iraq in May 2008 as it was designed to protect occupants from direct small arms fire but ended up facing explosive devices and mines. says the “vehicles however were flawed from the outset. Despite the lessons learned from the insurgency in Iraq, the MoD bought the Vector which has a flat bottom instead of the safer V-shape design which can help to deflect explosions.
“Critics have said that the Vector was poorly armoured all around to deal with larger IEDs and landmines. The vehicles, which were used as troop transporters, were deemed ‘coffins on wheels` by some vehicle experts,” the website added in its report.

The FT says BAE Systems replies it has upgraded 137 of the 168 vehicles in service, adding: “These are proving reliable in service. We will replace the rest when we can get access to the vehicles.” But the FT notes the redesign reportedly only addressed problems with suspension and wheel hubs, and not its level of armour or blast protection.

The paper further adds that despite withdrawing the vehicles from frontline service – due to be completed by the end of the year – the MoD is still to take delivery of a further 20 by the end of August. “It is unclear what use will be made of them”.

“To cope with the “capability gap”, the MoD has modified a small number of Snatch vehicles to improve their mobility and protection at a cost of £5 million,” the FT concluded.