Friday, 15 May 2009

Vulnerable Vectors withdrawn from operations

Back in August 2006 the Defence Secretary announced that an additional 100 Vector Pinzgauer-based protected patrol vehicles were being purchased for Afghanistan making 200 in total. The rushed order was a response to the criticism the MoD had received about the lack of protection offered to soldiers in Snatch Land Rovers. Several soldiers had been killed when their Land Rovers had been hit by IEDs.

However confidence in the replacement Vectors was shortlived. Their poor under-belly armour made them too vulnerable to roadside bombs and their suspension proved unable to cope with the extra weight from armour and the electronic counter-measures equipment they carried. Combining this with a shortage of spares, the Vectors in-service availability fell below 60% in 2008.

It came as no surprise therefore when the MoD announced last week that it was withdrawing the Vectors from Afghanistan. "Since its introduction to theatre, the evolving threat from larger improvised explosive devices on operations has led to a requirement for more medium and heavy capability vehicles to withstand these devices," an MoD spokesman said. "Following the delivery of Mastiff 2, Ridgback and vehicles from the protected mobility package announced [by the MoD] in October 2008, we intend to withdraw Vector from operations in Afghanistan."
A large-scale replacement program is under way and this year some 560 new armoured vehicles will start to deploy in Afghanistan. These include a whole menagerie of types including Jackal, Ridgeback, Panther , Wolfhound and Husky at a total cost of £800million.