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British Army Deploys Panther Vehicles to Afghanistan

The first batch of a fleet of versatile, protected vehicles has been delivered to troops on operations, complete with the latest battle-ready upgrades.

Weighing over 7 tonnes, the Panther Command and Liaison Vehicle (PCLV) is fitted with the latest high-tech developments, including a remote-controlled weapon system that allows the user to operate a machine gun with a camera and joystick from inside its turret. It can operate in all weather conditions, day and night using thermal imaging equipment that "sees" in the dark and the vehicles are protected against a range of threats including small arms, blast and anti-personnel mines.

Minister for Defence Equipment and Support, Quentin Davies, said:

"Panther is an extremely tough, air-transportable and agile vehicle which will provide commanders on the ground with a vital asset suited to a variety of roles and operational environments.

"We have made a number of essential modifications since its entry into service which have been key to ensuring we deliver on our commitment to provide a vehicle which is fit for our frontline troops.

"I am confident that through our work with industry we have a vehicle which will be very effective in all sorts of situations."

Panther, which was delivered to 1 Mechanised Brigade for training last summer, has undergone design adjustments following a series of hot weather trials to make them ready for operations in Afghanistan. These include:
-- rear view camera for improved situational awareness;
-- protected engine compartment;
-- the addition of a fourth crew member;
-- theatre-specific Electronic Counter Measures (ECM).

The vehicles will be first used by both the RAF Regiment and the Army's Close Support Logistics Regiment. More vehicles are en route to theatre later this month for deployment on the frontline.

The modifications to Panther were carried out at BAE Systems Global Combat Systems' Newcastle production plant.

1. Over 60 Panthers have received the Theatre Entry Standard (TES) modifications. A number of these vehicles will be delivered to theatre, with the remainder being made available for training.

2. More than 400 Panthers are being assembled by BAE Systems under a £160 million contract. It is intended that the Panther will replace vehicles including Combat Reconnaissance Vehicle (Tracked) (CVR(T)), Fighting Vehicle (FV) 430, Saxon and Land Rover Truck Utility Medium (TUM).

3. Panther is air transportable and can be underslung beneath a Chinook helicopter.

4. Panther is armed with a 7.62 mm L7 general purpose machine gun equipped Remote Weapon Station, which can be upgraded to a 12.7 mm weapon if required, and an appropriate day/night sighting system. The armoured citadel provides crew protection from small-arms fire and blast mines. (ends)

Panther On the Prowl in Afghanistan