THE Ministry of Defence (MoD) has announced a multimillion-pound contract to buy 51 new light patrol vehicles for soldiers in Afghanistan.
Defence Minister Philip Dunne announced the £46m deal for the extra Foxhound vehicles during a visit to the British company that makes them.
The Foxhound replaced the Army’s Snatch Land Rover, which proved highly vulnerable to roadside bombs used by insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan.
It has enhancements including a V-shaped hull to give protection against the bombs which have been a common tactic of Taliban fighters in Afghanistan.
The Army’s most agile protected vehicle, it uses cutting-edge Formula 1 technology to provide unparalleled protection for its weight and class.
It can reach speeds of up to 80mph and drive away from an improvised explosive device (IED) strike on just three wheels, while its engine is so advanced it can be changed in 30 minutes and put back on the road.
The first Foxhounds were deployed to Afghanistan earlier this year and are now being used by soldiers who are mentoring and partnering with the Afghan National Security Forces.
Mr Dunne announced details of the new contract during a visit to General Dynamics Land Systems: Force Protection Europe’s spares facility in Telford, which provides spares for the Foxhound vehicle.
Mr Dunne, Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology, said: “I was pleased to meet with employees at General Dynamics: Force Protection who have helped make Foxhound a real procurement success story, taking only 40 months to develop it from the initial design to deployment in Afghanistan.”
The contract is part of an overall investment of £340m by the MoD in Foxhound since 2010, and the 51 extra vehicles take the Army’s total fleet to 376 vehicles.
The contract is also expected to sustain jobs at the company’s Telford facility, its HQ in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, and throughout the UK in its supply chain.
Speaking in September when Foxhound was first operational in Afghanistan, chief of staff for the Bastion Force Protection Wing Squadron Leader Jim Stewart said: “Foxhound is an enormous leap forward in capability. The off-road mobility, enhanced protection and night-vision systems that it offers to the troops on the ground are unmatched in a vehicle of this size.”