United Kingdom/Australia/Kingdom of Belgium/State of Kuwait/Republic of Singapore (1993)
Internal Security Vehicle/Infantry Mobility Vehicle – 37 Built (32 Production Vehicles, 4 Prototypes, 1 Hull)
The Shorland S600, based on a Unimog chassis, was the last armored vehicle designed by the Northern-Irish company Short Brothers. Only two prototypes would be produced under their name, as the complete Shorland range of vehicles was sold to British Aerospace Australia (BAe) in 1996. They built a new prototype, known as the Foxhound, which was constructed as a contender in the Australian Bushranger program. After dropping out of this program, international interest led to the sale of 22 vehicles to the Kuwaiti National Guard in 1997. While the Belgian Gendarmerie was testing the vehicle, the S600 design was sold to yet another company, this time Australian-based Tenix Defence. Under their name, a modest number of vehicles were sold to Belgium (6), South-Korea (2), and Singapore (2). In January 2008, Tenix Defence was bought by BAE Systems, essentially returning the S600 to its previous producer. Without any further sales, the S600 product range was eventually suspended during the 2010s.
Starting from the 1960s, the Northern-Irish company Short Brothers, also known as ‘Shorts’, started building armored cars on commercially available Land Rover chassis’. Commercially, it was a successful venture, with vehicles sold to dozens of countries. In 1992, Shorts started the search for a new, readily available chassis, on which a new vehicle could be developed. Shortly thereafter, the German Unimog 437 series was selected, both the U 1550 L and heavier U 2150 L chassis variants, which had been introduced in 1988. These chassis had already demonstrated good cross-country performance and spare parts were easily available all over the world.
In 1993, detailed design work started on the armored body, and to secure a good fit, some parts of the Unimog chassis had to be repositioned. The work was finished in 1994 and construction commenced of the first two prototypes, which were completed in early 1995. Compared to a regular Unimog, the S600 shared some 80% components. In September, the new prototype was officially introduced at the Royal Navy & British Army Equipment Exhibition.
Shorts had two main versions in mind. The first was the ISV, an Internal Security Vehicle, which would utilize the U 1550 L chassis with a Mercedes-Benz 366 in-line water-cooled turbocharged diesel engine, producing 156 hp. This vehicle, weighing between 8 to 9,5 tonnes action-ready and spacious enough to carry twelve men, was designed for police, paramilitary, and military use.
The other version was the IMV, the Infantry Mobility Vehicle. This version utilized the heavier U 2150 L chassis with a 366LA in-line turbocharged and inter-cooled engine, producing 214 hp. The combat weight of this version was around 12.5 tonnes and could carry a section of eight men and three days’ supplies. This version could also be adapted to a command, ambulance, heavily armed support, or air defense weapons carrier.
Two prototypes were built by Shorts. These were equipped as several variants for testing and promotion purposes in 1995 and 1996. For example, in 1995, it was outfitted as an ambulance version while in September, it was a regular IMV variant with a 12.7 mm M2 machine gun on top. In 1996, it was also seen as a police variant and painted blue, while the ISV prototype was seen featuring a white UN livery. These first prototypes are easily distinguishable from the vehicles that were later built, as they had a differently designed front. The louvers were square, stuck out a bit, and consisted of eight narrow slats. The corners of the front were rounded off. Later vehicles featured much larger slats and square corners.
The design of the Unimog chassis translated itself quite clearly in the S600, just as can be seen on other Unimog-based armored vehicles, like the German TM-170. With a short bonnet and a high superstructure, the S600 had a roomy interior. This room made the design very versatile, further enhanced by the relatively basic construction, which allowed the vehicle to be tailored to meet specific and individual operational requirements from various customers.
Therefore, most features of the S600 were up for change, with Shorts suggesting various weapon stations, different vision ports, air conditioning units, additional radiographic equipment, applique armor kits, and the like.
Multilayered Australian interest
In 1993, the Australian Army initiated the Bushranger project, which aimed to select a new Infantry Mobility Vehicle. Phase 1 resulted in the supply of Interim Infantry Mobility Vehicles, for which the Land Rover Perentie was chosen. In 1994, the initiation of Phase 2A started the process to select a definitive IMV. The requirements called for a vehicle that could carry nine soldiers and equipment, fuel, and supplies for three days, which should include at least 270 l of water. With a cruising speed of 90 km/h on-road, it should have a range of 600-1,000 km and have off-road capabilities equal to a Unimog truck. In terms of armament and protection, it should have provision for a machine gun mount, and armor protection against regular 7.62 mm rounds was required. Protection against AP bullets and mines was desired but not one of the core requirements.
A total of thirteen companies showed interest in the project and five of these were shortlisted.
1. Australian Specialised Vehicle Systems (ASVS), a joint venture between ANI and Reumech Austral. They offered the Taipan, a modified version of the South African Mamba.
2. Transfield Defence System, which teamed up with German Thyssen Henschel, and offered the TM-170.
3. Perry Engineering teamed up with Timoney and offered a version of their MP44.
4. Westrac teamed up with TFM and offered the RG-12 Nyala.
5. Lastly, British Aerospace Australia (BAe) offered an improved Shorts S600, which BAe called Foxhound.
Late in 1995, Phase 2B was initiated, which was the request for tender. Shortly after, Transfield and Westrac withdrew, leaving ASVS, Perry Engineering, and BAe.
In 1996, BAe started construction of a new improved prototype of the S600, known as the Foxhound. Near the end of that year, Shorts decided to sell the entire Shorland range of vehicles to BAe, due to internal restructuring of the company. This not only included the S600 design, but also the older designs that were based on the Land Rovers, namely the S52 and S55. BAe would never take these into production, however, and solely focussed on their Foxhound. Of the two Shorts prototypes, one was relocated to Australia, while future production could either take place in Northern Ireland or Australia, depending on the customer.
In October 1996, the Australian Army issued a new contract negotiating directive, which initiated the official negotiations for contracts with the three companies to provide a trial vehicle. However, before the formal contract negotiations could commence with BAe, they announced their intention to drop out and withdrew their offer for the Foxhound in January 1997.
First customer: Kuwait
Although BAe let the possibility of an Australian success go, another commercial success was near. During the second half of the 1990s, the National Guard of Kuwait (الحرس الوطني الكويتي, KNG for short) was searching for a new armored internal security vehicle to be used by the Internal Security Battalion (الحرس الوطني الكويتي, ISB for short). Apart from supporting the Kuwait Army in case of a foreign invasion and protecting vital targets or installations against any threat, an important duty of the KNG is to support the police in maintaining security and stability.
BAe’s offer of the Foxhound was challenged by unspecified vehicles from South Africa, the USA, and the UK. After evaluation, the S600 was chosen in January 1997, coinciding with the Australian offer being canceled, KNG signed a contract with BAe for delivery of 22 vehicles in 4 (6) versions. The first pre-series vehicle was ready by early September 1997 and presented in October at the BAe factory in Wingfield, Adelaide, South Australia. It was successful and the production of 22 vehicles commenced, which were built and delivered in 1998 and 1999. With production finished by 1999, the Shorland program was sold again, this time to Tenix Defence Systems, also from Australia, Barton. They continued the program and secured a three-year-long life support contract and follow-on weapon system integration updates until 2003 with Kuwait. Some Tenix personnel was also relocated to Kuwait for that purpose. Besides this, operator and maintainer training was offered to the National Guard.
The acquired versions included the ambulance, the armored personnel carrier with two types of weapon stations, the high-pressure water cannon carrier, and both the light and heavy barricade remover. All vehicles are painted in an identical regular KNG paint scheme with a sand yellow base, broken up by green patches and smaller white dots. Apart from the ambulance, which has blue, all vehicles are fitted with orange flashing lights. All vehicles are registered with a number, starting with 100, followed by the vehicle number ranging from 01 to 22.
Design of the base vehicle
The vehicle developed for Kuwait would form the basis for other vehicles that were sold later. According to the manufacturer, the S600 was relatively cheap in its class, while retaining as good performance as its commercial counterparts. Being based on the tried and tested Unimog chassis, operational costs were relatively low, due to 80% parts commonality with regular vehicles and thus easily available spares. Furthermore, the range was supported by world-wide Mercedes-Benz repair points within their dealer-network.
Unlike the original options envisioned by Shorts, under Australian management, all versions were to be based on the more powerful U 2150 L chassis. The diesel engine, which is coupled to a manual transmission with eight forward and four reverse gears, is located in the front of the vehicle and can be accessed through hatches. In case full access is needed, the whole armored body can be lifted from the chassis.
The wheels are fitted to portal axles which have hub drive and torque tubes. They also have pneumatically operated differential locks that can be operated while the vehicle is moving. Each wheel station has an independent suspension that consists of coil springs and hydraulic shock absorbers. Furthermore, steering is power-assisted.
For the many roles that were envisioned for the S600, it was often considered essential that troops could quickly embark or disembark the vehicle. Therefore, the original Shorts prototype had three doors, one on each side and one in the back, but most vehicles featured only two doors, with one in the back and one on the side. The side door essentially is a two-part hatch, with the lower part folding down to form a step, while the upper part, which also has an integral vision block, is opened upwards. The rear door is very similar in design but wider, and the upper hatch could also contain a firing port. A novel feature is that the upper part can be locked in an open position while driving, which could prove beneficial in certain circumstances.
First introduced on the Foxhound prototype were two large notches in the rear sides of the superstructure, where spare wheels could be carried. This option was carried over on several variants.
The armor plating was newly developed by BAe and Bisalloy Steels from Unanderra NSW. The armored hull was of completely welded construction and provided enough protection against 5.56 mm and 7.62 mm small arms fire. Although an option was offered for appliqué armor, improving the protection against 5.56 mm and 7.62 mm AP bullets, this option seems to never have been bought by any S600 customer. The windows are bulletproof and provide the same protection as the armor. The belly protection is sufficient against grenades and small mine blasts.
The S600 could accommodate various weapon stations. For example, the prototype had a single-piece circular hatch in the roof where a variety of armament systems could be fitted, with the largest being a 12.7 mm M2 machine gun or a 40 mm Mk 19 Mod 3 grenade launcher. These weapon stations can also be fitted with a protective armored shield. Apart from this layout, other roof arrangements were offered by the manufacturer, for example, circular roof hatches above the commander’s and driver’s positions at the front. Apart from weapons on the roof, another option was the fitting of firing ports below the vision blocks in the rear compartment. This option was used both by Singapore and South-Korea.
Depending on the customer’s needs, the driver sits either on the right or the left, with the commander beside him. However, only the two Singapore vehicles feature a right-hand drive, while all other vehicles have a left-hand drive. Windows in the front and sides provide a 180º field of view. For crew comfort, the S600 was equipped as standard with an air conditioning unit.
In the hull section behind the driver and commander positions, bench seats run down either side of the hull, on which troops can be seated facing each other. For safety and comfort purposes, each seat has a seatbelt. Under the seats is space to store equipment and supplies.
Since the S600 left room for many customizations, many more things could be fitted, but the manufacturer proposed the following: appliqué armor, automatic transmission, various communication systems, a different Euro 2 diesel engine, a fire detection and suppression system, a heater, Hutchinson run-flat inserts for the tires, land navigation systems, night vision equipment, self-recovery winch, wire cutters, smoke grenade launchers, or a Mercedes-Benz central tire-inflation system. This system allows the driver to adjust the tire pressure to suit the type of ground that is being crossed.
The ambulance version has a crew of three that includes a driver and two medical staff. The rear compartment is configured to carry either three stretcher patients or two stretcher patients and four seated patients.
Armored personnel carrier
The APC version can be considered as a base version of the S600. It offers seating for twelve personnel and has a total payload of 3,300 kg. This stands identical to a full rifle section, complete with a combat load. With a range up to 1,000 km, the vehicle was designed for a three-day deployment.
Heavy Barricade Remover (Riot Control)
Light Barricade Remover (riot control)
High-Pressure water Cannon
The high-pressure water cannon version carried a 3,000-liter tank which offered the capacity to have five minutes of continuous water jetting.
The command version would be fitted with up to five radios and a folding workbench that was fitted with a map board and enclosed annex. When stationary, this vehicle could be used as a command post. It would have a crew of six, including a driver, commander, and four radio operators.
This version’s main feature would be a stabilized mast-mounted sensor package, comprising a laser range finder, radar, thermal camera, and a TV camera, with an operator’s console in the hull. It would have a crew of four.
Police Internal Security Vehicle
Like the APC, the ISV configuration was another base design, which provided seating for up to 12 personnel with full equipment.
The airport security vehicle allowed the crew to remain closed up in the vehicle for longer periods in comfort, to allow monitoring from one place. It would have special provisions for airfield communication systems and provision for a concealed weapon. This proposed variant would have a crew of four.
This proposed variant could carry a standard BAE systems Ro Defence 81 mm mortar that would fire through an opening roof hatch. The vehicle would be crewed by three men, including a driver, mortar detachment commander, and a mortar crew member.
The anti-hijack vehicle was created around 2001/2002 for the South-Korean market and featured a MARS system fitted on the roof. MARS stands for Mobile Adjustable Ramp System, which provides a more tactical approach to enter and rescue in elevated locations, like buildings or planes. It also provides an elevated platform for snipers during other kinds of missions.
Under a new company
After BAe completed production of the 22 Kuwaiti vehicles, they decided to sell the Foxhound/S600 design to Tenix Defence Systems in January 1999, who continued the program and also took over the involved managers and engineers. Although the name Shorland S600 was retained, during the Tenix years, the vehicle was regularly referred to as Tenix S600. Tenix was only formed in 1997 when it split from its parent company Transfield Services. It became the largest defense contractor in Australia.
Belgium: the second customer
Since the late 1970s, the Belgian Gendarmerie (NL: Rijkswacht, a paramilitary police force) had been operating 80 BDX armored vehicles. After the Gendarmerie became a civilian police organization in 1992, the number was drastically scaled-down and, near the end of the 1990s, it became clear a replacement was needed. After evaluating a variety of options, the Alvis Tactica, Vickers OMC RG-12, and the Shorland S600 were selected as potential successors. After extensive testing in Belgium, the S600 was eventually selected and, in 1999, a contract was signed with Tenix for delivery of six vehicles, with an option for more in the next two fiscal years, although this option was never used. The deal was worth 5 million Australian dollars (120 million Belgian Francs or 3.8 million USD).
On 31 January 2001, South Australian Premier John Olsen symbolically handed over the keys of the first vehicle to Colonel Alain Mouthuy of the Belgian Police. The ceremony took place at the Technology Park in Adelaide, where Tenix Defence was based. This vehicle was painted in Gendarmerie colors, with a red-orange line protruding from the center of the bonnet up between the front windows. As the Gendarmerie had become the Federal Police after 1 April 2001, during reforms that combined all police units into one force, divided at a local and federal level, this paint scheme was never adopted. Instead, when the first vehicles were delivered to Belgium in August 2001, they were painted in a newly adopted scheme. The vehicles are registered with regular license plates. Confirmed registrations are DQM-036, -037, -038, -039, and -042. The vehicles also have vehicle numbers, identical to the last two numbers of the license plate.
According to the Belgian Police, the main purpose of the vehicles is to safely transport policemen whenever there is an armed threat or excessive use of violence, for example in the form of a rioting group throwing projectiles like stones and fireworks. Aside from protecting the police within, it can also offer protection for police behind it, and it can easily break through erected barricades and the like. Within the vehicle is space for a driver, commander, and up to seven policemen.
The Belgian vehicles are made airtight to allow operation in an environment where teargas is used. On special request, the side windows in the rear were enlarged as well to provide better vision. They are made of polycarbonate and thus fire and impact resistant. As policemen would be able to easily enter and move in the vehicle with all gear, including helmets, the vehicle was made 10 cm higher, meaning the Belgian vehicles are 2.8 m instead of 2.7 m high. Unlike the rear door, which is still manually opened, the side door is pneumatically opened. Further features include run-flat tires, folding wired mesh protection for the front windows and fixed on the sides, and a rapidly removable power-operated light barricade remover mounted on the front. There is also at least one S600 outfitted with a MARS system.
Within the federal police, the vehicles were formed in APC-teams and attached to the Directorate General Reserve (FR: Direction de la Réserve Générale, NL: Dienst Algemene Reserve). In 2004, this unit was incorporated into the Intervention Corps (FR: Corps d’Intervention, NL: Interventiekorps, combined shortened to CIK). In 2015, a new centralized police support unit was formed, the Directorate of Public Safety (FR: Direction de Sécurité Publique, NL: Directie Openbare Veiligheid). Also known as DAS, this unit currently operates the S600.
Since 2006, the three Benelux countries (Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg) have signed a police treaty that allows the operation of personnel and materiel across their borders. Before signing, that was not allowed, but cooperation was common and an incident from April 2003 has to be noted. In that month, a demonstration took place in Luxembourg by workers from the metallurgical industry. At the time, Luxembourg, a stranger to violent protests, had no armored vehicles nor water cannons to counter the protest. Therefore, an arrangement was signed with Belgium which allowed the deployment of Belgian water cannons and armored vehicles, but due to juridical restrictions, they were only allowed to be operated by Luxembourg policemen and should have Luxembourg registration plates. Multiple S600s were sent, including number 38, which temporarily received the registration A7784, while Luxembourgish crews were hastily trained to be somewhat familiar with the vehicles.
On 29 September 2020, a tender was placed for a four-year program of modernizing, modifying, and restoring the six vehicles. The deadline was set for 22 October 2020. Somehow, in official publications including this tender, the Shorland is erroneously referred to as ‘Shortland’. The tender indicates that the Belgian S600s are planned to remain in service for some time.
South-Korea: the third customer
Tenix Defence announced in September 2002 that a ‘classified North-East Asian country’ had placed an order for two anti-hijack vehicles. This type of vehicle was not offered before. Apart from the two vehicles, Tenix delivered a comprehensive spare and service equipment package to the customer, which later turned out to be South-Korea.
The two vehicles were bought for use by the 707th Special Mission Battalion (제707특수임무단, since 2019 known as the 707th Special Mission Group), an elite counter-terrorism unit of the Republic of Korea Army Special Forces. The anti-hijack version seems to be developed from the Police ISV, but with smaller side windows, and round openable firing ports under them. Both the rear and right side doors are manually operated. Most notable is the MARS system, installed on the roof and attached to the lifting hooks on the bonnet.
Singapore: the fourth customer
In 2005, the Singapore Police unveiled two new S600s that had been acquired for use by the Special Tactics and Rescue unit (STAR) of the Special Operations Command. Both vehicles were painted in a glossy dark blue color, and bear the registration numbers YM4355K and YM4280S. The former is equipped with a light barricade remover, while the latter features a MARS system but are, apart from that, identical. At first glance, the vehicles look similar to the South-Korean anti-hijack version, but the Singapore vehicles feature a right-hand drive system.
In the lower right side of the hull, just behind the driving position and the front wheel, a large air intake is there. This feature is not seen on any other S600s.
The life of the Kuwait series prototype
The pre-series vehicle built to Kuwaiti standards was kept at the factory for driver and maintainer training. This specific vehicle was also heavily used for marketing and demonstrations during various shows and exhibitions in Europe, the Middle East, East Asia, and Australia. This vehicle was also tested by Belgium and Saudi Arabia, among others. With the company’s personnel, this vehicle became affectionately known as ‘Betsy’.
Near the end of the 2000s, the vehicle was long-term leased to the South Australian Police Special Tasks and Rescue Group and repainted white, with a blue-white blocked line along the sides. It received the registration XAH 404. In May 2011, this STAR unit was reinforced with a new Lenco Engineering Bearcat, which reduced the S600 to a second-line vehicle. By 2015, they still used it, but before 2019, it was indefinitely returned to BAE Systems. They donated this vehicle to the National Military Vehicle Museum in Edinburgh Parks on 18 December 2019.
This museum also has a bare S600 hull which was already donated by BAE before 2014. It is not, and probably never was, mounted on a chassis, but probably used for testing or as a production sample in the factory. It is painted in a similar three-tone camouflage scheme as the original BAe Foxhound prototype from 1996. The extruding windows are its most distinctive feature, which is similar to those seen on one of the original Shorts prototype at the time it was shown as a white UN vehicle. The two extensions on top of the bonnet, just below the windows, are only seen with the Kuwaiti vehicles.
During the late 1990s, Saudi-Arabia intended to buy a large number of armored vehicles, quoted to be up to 1,000, although the initial demand was set for roughly 60-70 vehicles. Their main purpose would be to protect key facilities near Mecca and Medina where yearly, millions of Muslims make a pilgrimage, known as the Hajj. In September 1998, comparative trials were held between the British Alvis Tactica and the Australian Shorland S600. Both Alvis and Tenix declared their designs were chosen because of their versatility. Eventually, Saudi-Arabia opted for the Tactica, of which 261 models were purchased. The S600 was rejected.
Undoubtedly, other countries would have considered or tested the Shorland S600, but to what extent is not publicly known.
The police of Singapore was the last customer for the S600, in 2005. In January 2008, it was announced that Tenix was bought by BAE Systems, the descendant of BAe. This third change of ownership of the production line did not result in the elimination of the project and the S600 was still being offered by 2014. However, by donating the remaining prototype to a museum at the end of 2019, BAE has made it quite clear that they have no interest in offering the vehicle any longer, which is understandable as by then, the design was more than twenty years old.
How long the S600 will remain in service is hard to tell. The Belgian vehicles will likely remain in service for at least ten years, because of their 2020 tender for refurbishment. With over twenty years of service and in their semi-military setting, the Kuwaiti vehicles will probably be replaced first, possibly within the next ten years. The Singapore and South-Korean vehicles fulfill a more specialized role and in that setting will likely remain in use for some time. Jane’s estimated a service time of roughly forty years. Based on BAEs’ current interests in the Defense market, it is very unlikely that they will offer a new design.
Compared to its counterparts, the S600 was a strong competitive vehicle, but not a great commercial success, with only 32 vehicles sold. The production was thus very modest compared to, for example, the Alvis Tactica or RG-12. The vehicle itself was good, with a reliable chassis, enough versatility, and good performance. The S600 program suffered from the constant change of ownership, which is one of the main reasons why the vehicle was not sold to more countries. As of 2021, it is believed that all 32 vehicles that were sold remain in service.
|Dimensions (L x W x H)||5.74 x 2.42 x 2.70 m (18ft10in x 7ft11in x 8ft10in)|
|Combat weight||12.5 tonnes (13.8 US ton)|
|Engine||Mercedes-Benz OM-366LA 6-cylinder, 5,958 cc, 660 Nm at 1,400-1,700 rpm, 157 kW (214 bhp) at 2,600 rpm|
|Gearbox||UG3/65, 8 forward, 4 reverse gears|
|Power to weight ratio||17,1 hp/t|
|Max. speed||110 km/h (68 mph)|
|Road range||1,000 km (621 miles) (with extended range fuel tank)|
|Armament||Optional, up to 12.7 mm machine gun or 40 mm mortar|
|Armor||Protection against regular 5.56 mm and 7.62 mm NATO rounds, resistance against shrapnel, and infantry mines|
|Payload||3,300 kg (7275 lbs)|
|Wheelbase||3.25 m (10ft8in)|
|Track width||1.92 m (6ft4in)|
|Ground clearance||0.44 m (1ft5in)|
|Fording depth||1.2 m (3ft11in)|
|Turning circle||15 m (49ft3in)|
|Side slope||31 degrees|
|Approach angle||40 degrees|
|Angle of departure||40 degrees|
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