The Council of Ministers today approved Minister of Defense Steven Vandeput's proposal to equip the Special Operations Forces (SOF) - Land Forces capability with 199 new armored Light Troop Transport Vehicles (see concept drawing), with “mission modules” and related weapon systems at a cost of 63.3 million euros. The purchase procedure for these vehicles will now begin, and delivery is expected from 2019 until 2021.
"This acquisition corresponds to the process of my strategic vision of strengthening the Belgian Defense Special Operations Forces, as also requested by NATO," said Defense Minister Steven Vandeput.
This reinforcement implies that:
-- The current Special Forces of the Heverlee Special Forces Group will be equipped with specialized equipment;
-- The tasks of the two para-commando battalions will be expanded so that they can be deployed also in support of the Special Forces;
-- National (1) and international (2) specialized SOF command structures will be developed; and
-- Specialized SOF aircraft will be purchased in the period 2025-2027.
The armored Light Troop Transport Vehicle will replace the unarmored Unimogs now in service. Standard ballistic protection against bullets, grenades, mines and bombs will also be reinforced by additional ballistic kits that are also part of this acquisition. This represents a significant improvement in the protection of our Special Forces and para-commandos in operations.
The purchase of the LTTV is complementary to the purchase of the armored Rapid Reaction Vehicles (RRV) already decided in 2015 to replace the unprotected Iltis jeep, and whose delivery will begin in the first half of next year.
The LTTV, together with the RRV, will ensure that the SOF capability can be deployed quickly, autonomously and very flexibly by the government for key defense missions (collective defense, collective security and the protection of Belgian nationals, world-wide).
Rapid deployment is possible as the LTTV can be easily transported by C-130 transport aircraft or, in the future, A400M. The stand-alone deployment will be optimized because the LTTV will be based as much as possible on widespread and simple technologies.
Flexibility will be enhanced by the use of different mission modules (Special Forces, para-commando (in different versions), ambulance) that can be added to an LTTV, together with a weapon fit that can be adapted to the mission. These weapons include light and heavy machine guns, grenade launchers and smoke-grenade launchers.