Supacat’s Jackal 2 in all its glory represents over 7 tons of armoured reconnaissance vehicle; note the vital V-shaped hull at the front designed to reflect mine or IED blasts away from the crew. Armoured plates on the sides also offer the occupants some protection from small arms. The ability of the Jackal 1 and 2 to tackle almost any terrain meant that the vehicle soon won favour with British troops serving in Afghanistan.
Factory fresh, the Coyote is essentially a 6×6 derivative of the Jackal.
The Foxhound being put through its paces in Afghanistan – this vehicle was initially known as the Ocelot before joining the British army. Like the Jackal, its hull tapers out to deflect mines and IEDs away from the crew compartment.
The American 6×6 Cougar mine-resistant infantry mobility vehicle. Depending on its configuration it is known as the Mastiff and the Wolfhound protected patrol vehicles in British army service. The British also used the 4×4 version dubbed the Ridgeback.
The Urgent Operational Requirements (UORs) thrown up by the British army’s deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq resulted in the provision of a plethora of new military vehicles. Force protection became the primary focus for armoured vehicles, rather than the more traditional mechanised warfare role. While offensive battle groups still played their part, getting forces from A to B and conducting patrols unscathed in the face of a mounting IED threat became a greater priority. In total some 2,700 vehicles were supplied to the British army during the period November 2008 to April 2011 consisting of 18 different types.
UORs saw the successful provision of such force-protection vehicles as the Jackal, Mastiff and Ridgeback to the front line in Afghanistan, followed by the Panther and Springer. The Husky 4×4 and wolfhound 6×6 were part of the deliveries, while the tracked Viking was replaced by the newer armoured Singaporean Kinetics Warthog. Notable among them was the Jackal, which provided off-road mobility, firepower and armoured protection for reconnaissance and convoy security duties. This served to complement and support the British army’s fleet of Mastiff/Wolfhound 6×6 (US Force Protection’s Cougar – British integration work was carried out in Coventry by NP Aerospace), the 6×6 Pinzgauer Vector (LPPV), Panther 4×4 command vehicle and the Husky 4×4.
The Ministry of Defence announced the purchase of 130 new weapons-mounted patrol vehicles in mid-2007 under an UOR for Iraq and Afghanistan. The Jackal I high-mobility weapons platform designed by Supacat and manufactured by Babcock/Devonport Management Ltd (DML) at their facility in Plymouth delivered a much-needed boost to the existing greatly maligned WMIK fleet (weapons Mounted installation Kit – initially installed on Land Rover Defenders), offering more firepower, a better range and crucially all-terrain mobility. The vehicle was fitted with a range of heavy firepower (including a .50 calibre machine gun or an automatic grenade launcher and a general purpose machine gun), as well as carrying a crew of four with their personal weapons.
Drawing on operational lessons, the £74 million follow-on order for about 110 state-of-the-art enhanced Jackal 2 and more than 70 Coyote Tactical Support Vehicles was awarded to Supacat in early 2009. The latter is based on a 6×6 derivative of the Jackal. Both vehicles were bought as part of the Ministry of Defence’s £700 million Protected Patrol Vehicles package. While Babcock secured the contract for the Jackal I, Supacat was the prime contractor for the Jackal 2. The company has a long history of supplying military vehicles, but is perhaps best known for the compact Supacat 6×6 All-Terrain Mobility Platform (ATMP). This is now in its third generation with over 200 currently in service with the world’s airborne and special forces.
In part thanks to the ATMP Supacat has made itself a leader in high-mobility transporter technology. Its first customers for its High Mobility Transport vehicles (HMT – known as the 4×4 Jackal and 6×6 Coyote in British service) were the world’s special forces. Operational requirements in Afghanistan soon meant that it filled a much wider capability gap. While Jackal I was essentially the HMT 4×4 with bolt-on armour and an armoured bathtub arrangement for the driver compartment providing protection against mine and IED blasts, Jackal 2 evolved increasingly into a true armoured vehicle with much of the armour as an integral part of the vehicle itself. Additional steel plating protects the passenger seats. The upgrade also saw engine enhancements that pushed its gross weight up to 7.6 tons. To ensure a 360-degree fire arc for the main armament the weapons cupola was raised.
Jackal 2, with its bigger engine, an extra body length of 14in and an extra crew seat, was a much better vehicle than its predecessor and was aimed at providing extra space for much-needed equipment. Speed was important in Afghanistan and with its 6.7 litre Cummins engine (replacing a 5.9 litre) and top speed of 80mph (130km/h) on roads and 55mph (90km/h) cross-country it ensured that it had a better chance of dealing with trouble at its own pace, quickly and effectively.
With the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) having assumed responsibility for security across the country in 2013 there was concern about what would be left behind. The British armed forces had 137 bases; in central Helmand by this stage there were just 13. In addition, British troop levels were reduced from 7,900 to 5,200 as Task Force Helmand slowly wound down. British Forces HQ in Afghanistan relocated from Lashkar Gah to Camp Bastion. Task Force Helmand had been based at Lashkar Gah since 2006 when Britain first increased its involvement.
There was speculation that many of the vehicles procured under UORs might be abandoned or gifted to the Afghan army. Many of them were acquired to meet particular operational conditions, not least to provide protection in the unending war against Taliban IEDs. This idea was not taken up by the Ministry of Defence and 99 per cent of vehicles were to be returned to Britain.
As a result, an £11 million site was established in Afghanistan to process equipment ready for its homeward journey. Vehicles such as the Coyote, Foxhound, Husky, Jackal, Mastiff and Panther all have to be bio-washed in a process that can take up to 24 hours. According to the Ministry of Defence’s Defence Equipment and Support organisation, once this process was completed 2,700 vehicles were returned – 200 more than announced to Parliament. In early 2013 Lord Astor told the House of Commons that the Ministry of Defence was seeking to recover around £4 billion of inventory, the equivalent of 6,500 20ft containers and about 2,500 vehicles. On top of this, 400 tonnes of brass cartridge cases and 100 pallets of ammunition were retrieved. Likewise, 300 tonnes of lithium batteries were salvaged.
Constant instability in neighbouring Pakistan meant that the Ministry of Defence could not rely on the southern transit route to Karachi and the Arabian Sea, so sought to secure a northern line of communication through the Central Asian republics and Russia. After much horse-trading, which involved gifting surplus British equipment, three transit agreements were reached with Uzbekistan. These allowed the movement of non-warlike stores and motorised armoured vehicles by rail as well as the movement of war-like stores and personnel by air in return Uzbekistan got surplus Leyland DAF trucks and Land Rover spares after it was decided they were unlikely to be used for human-rights violations or internal repression.
Despite all this activity, Britain’s commitment to Afghanistan’s security continued. In October 2013 7th Armoured Brigade assumed responsibility for Task Force Helmand under Operation Herrick 19.
British Military Vehicle Deliveries
90 CVR(T), Coyote and Springer August 2009
119 Husky, Mastiff, Jackal and Vixen September 2009
8I CVR(T), Husky and Jackal October 2009
66 Jackal, Ridgeback and Vixen November 2009
105 Jackal, Wolfhound and Vixen December 2009
222 Jackal, WMIK and Wolfhound January 2010
260 Husky, Jackal, Mastiff, Wolfhound February 2010