United Kingdom/United States of America (1998-2000)
Reconnaissance Vehicle – 2 Built
In the late 1990s, the specialist versions of the Land Rovers used by British Special forces and other reconnaissance troops were showing their age, with some units still using Series III vehicles – a vehicle which ended production in 1985. With an eye to a contract for replacing these vehicles, the British firm of Alvis, in conjunction with the American firm of AM General, developed their own vehicle. This vehicle was to compete for this small but lucrative market of specialist high performance off-road vehicles intended for special forces use on the international market and for which the UK and US were prime potential customers. The result was an unusual hybrid idea to make use of the British familiarity and experience with Land Rovers. The potential contracts for vehicle production and spares parts was huge and, if either the UK or US placed an order, then there was a good probability that other nations, particularly in the Middle East, would follow suit.
Alvis was formed in Coventry in 1919, the heart of the British motor industry, and over the following decades, produced a large number of civilian, and from 1939, military vehicles. Some of their most famous military vehicles were the Stalwart and the Saracen. By the late 1990s though, the changing face of the international order, with the Cold War over and defence budgets being slashed, led to a sequence of mergers in the defence sector. In 1997, Alvis purchased the firm of Hägglunds Vehicle AB, and the year later merged with GKN.
In a similar vein, the American partners in the Shadow project, AM General, had been through the merger process back in the 1990s. AM General had developed the vehicle which had won the contract for the US Army’s HMMWV program and had even made a civilian version, known as the ‘HUMMER’ in 1993 for a primary domestic American market for whom a jeep with the doors taken off and big tires was neither huge, unwieldy, uneconomical, or sufficiently pretentious enough. A ‘HUMMER’, therefore, offered all the practicality of a garden shed on the road with that all important pseudo-military look. Shortly afterwards though, all of the rights to the name ‘HUMMER’ were transferred over to General Motors (of whom AM was a subsidiary), along with all civilian marketing rights. AM General did, however, retain the military marketing rights for what was a well regarded if somewhat oversized military vehicle.
With AM General having the rights to exploit the HMMWV for military use, and Alvis looking for a military contract, the two firms worked together to develop this new vehicle. Combining elements of the HMMWV and a Land Rover under the design management of Alvis, the new vehicle was a hybrid of British and American vehicles, hoping to get the best of both worlds. Specifically, it was intended to have the size and off-road ability of the HMMWV with the reliability and ease of maintenance of the Land Rover. Based on a M1113 Expanded Capacity Vehicle (HMMWV) chassis, the vehicle looked substantially more HMMWV than it did ‘Land Rover’, but was also very much a cut down vehicle, providing an open space on this rugged platform, on which a variety of options could be developed, depending on role.
A second project run in conjunction with AM General by Alvis was looking at using Mercedes components, but the scale of involvement, if any, with Mercedes is unknown. It could well be that the project was simply to use commonly available Mercedes components parts, such as those for their G-Wagon range of vehicles, rather than a co-production. Either way, offering a second hybrid platform for the Shadow concept would serve to widen the potential market appeal to foreign forces which may already have been operating the Mercedes G-Wagon platform and wanted some degree of commonality in their forces.
In the Shadows
In June 2000, Alvis released this new design. Named ominously as the ‘Shadow’ to hint perhaps at the murky world of special forces operations, the vehicle was first shown publicly at the Eurosatory defence exposition that year. Following this, it was exhibited on the AM General stand as the ‘Alvis Shadow Offensive Action Vehicle’ (A.S.O.A.V.) at the Association of the United States Army (A.U.S.A.) exhibition in Washington D.C. in October that year.
The Mercedes-based vehicle does not appear to have been on display at all and seems in fact more like a side project or off-shoot of this primary AM General project instead. By the time the whole work would be terminated, the Mercedes project would remain substantially less refined in design and unfinished, indicating that the AM General co-production was Plan A for Alvis.
Layout and Weaponry
The Shadow was of a conventional layout, with the engine forward, followed by a driver (on the left) and front-seat passenger (on the right), behind which was a space for storage, other weapons, kit, and crew. The body of the Shadow was based on that of the M1113 HMMWV (High Mobility Multi-Role Wheeled Vehicle) Extended Capability Vehicle (E.C.V.) fitted with various Land Rover parts. Just two Shadows were made: one based on Mercedes components and the other on GM components. Power for the latter was provided by a General Motors 6.5 litre V8 turbo diesel producing 190 hp. This power was delivered via a General Motors 4 speed (plus torque converter) hydromatic gearbox. The suspension was provided by way of AM General double-wishbone suspension.
The technical details of the Mercedes-based component vehicle are unknown. In 1998, when the Shadow work began, the G-Wagon had already been in production for nearly 20 years by Daimler-Benz. The primary model in production and use in 1998 was the Model G vehicle featuring locking differentials, a fully automatic 5 speed transmission, and improved brakes. Engine options for that vehicle ranged from the modest 2.3 litre M 102 E 23 4-cylinder petrol to a 2.9 litre OM 602 D29 diesel or the 3.0 litre OM 642 DE 30 V6 turbodiesel.
On the exterior, the most obvious feature of the Shadow was the large box-type roll cage covering the whole of the cab, on top of which was a ring-mount on which a weapon could be mounted. The roll cage and this weapon mount were made from stainless steel. A further weapon mount was provided on the front right to be operated by the front right passenger. The Shadow was very well armed, with a 7.62 mm General Purpose Machine Gun (GPMG) mounted on the front passenger side (the right) and an M621 20 mm cannon on a P20 mount on the roof, although other weapons could also be mounted on the fully traversing turret ring. Such weapons could include another 7.62 mm GPMG or a heavy machine gun, like a 0.50 (12.7 mm) calibre M2 Browning heavy machine gun, automatic grenade launcher, or even an Anti-Tank Guided Missile (A.T.G.M.) system like the MILAN ATGM. What weapons were selected to be used would be down to the eventual user and the need to fulfil whatever role was needed at the time.
The rest of the space within the roll cage area was large enough for a significant amount of kit and stores, including at least one spare tire and a fourth operator carried in the back to make a maximum complement of 4 troops, although an additional folding section at the back provided additional, albeit not very secure seating or even a stretcher. The body was completely open, no doors, no roof, and importantly, no armor at all. The body, made from aluminum panels to save weight, offered no protection whatsoever from direct enemy fire from small arms or even shell splinters. Protection for the crew would, therefore, be limited to whatever personal protective gear, such as helmets and body armor, they would wear and, of course, to not being seen in the first place. This most important factor in the protection of the crew stood in direct contrast to the heavy weaponry on offer for combat.
The entire vehicle had to be light and it also had strict size limitations, as a pair of them would have to be able to fit within the hold of a CH47 Chinook, and three of them within the hold of a C-130 Hercules transport aircraft. It was also air-droppable on the standard Medium Stress Platform.
Even unarmored, the Shadow struggled in the weight category, coming in at a rather chunky 4,800 kg. On top of that 4,800 kg weight, was a load capacity of 1,200 kg, for a total load of 6,000 kg. With the 190 hp engine, this meant a power to weight ratio of 31.7 hp per tonne.
Conclusion and the End of Alvis
The Alvis Shadow was not the first unarmored high mobility scout concept by any means and it certainly was not the last. As a design, it does, however, illustrate the problem of such vehicles. Either they have to be light enough to obtain good mobility, operational range, and discrete reconnaissance, or be protected sufficiently in order to survive a firefight with an enemy force.
In 2002, Alvis bought Vickers Defence Systems from Rolls-Royce, but, by 2004, Alvis itself was gone, bought out by the defense giant British Aerospace (BAe Systems), which combined Alvis with Royal Ordnance to create a new land systems unit. The Shadow had failed to gain any orders, although at least one example had been trialled by members of the British Army. The Shadow is no longer offered for sale.
AM General, for their part, now offers the M1165 Special Operation version of their HMMWV catered to the special forces market which does offer a vehicle with basic ballistic protection (fragments) on a heavier (5,488 kg) chassis with a lower payload (1,102 kg).
No orders were ever received for the Shadow from Alvis but the market was a proven one. The USMC, for example, purchased a version of the Mercedes G-wagon as their ‘Interim Fast Attack Vehicle’. This was an altogether simpler ‘off-the shelf’ type of vehicle and offered a similar capability in terms of an open and capable off-road platform which could mount weapons. However, based on the 4.6 m long, 3-tonne Mercedes Geländewagen 290 model with a diesel engine, the vehicle was smaller than the Shadow and could carry a payload of just 730 kg compared to the Shadow’s 1,200 kg.
It too has now been replaced by the even smaller (4.14 m long) 2-tonne M1161 ‘Growler’ Internally Transportable Light Strike Vehicle, which is transportable by the V-22 Osprey. That vehicle has a payload capacity of just 900 kg, more than the G-Wagon-based IFSV but still substantially less than the Shadow.
Both of the Shadow prototypes built (the AM General-based one, and the Mercedes-based one) survive and were last known to be in private hands in the UK.
Specifications AM General/Alvis Shadow Offensive Action Vehicle
Up to 4
4.87m long x 2.06m wide x 1.8 m high.
4,800 kg, up to 6,000 kg fully laden
6.5 litre General Motors turbo charged diesel delivering 190 hp at 3,400 rpm.
various as needed
Alvis Plc. (16/10/2000). Press Release: A Shadow is Cast on AUSA
Defense and Aerospace Companies Volume II – Alvis Plc. Forecast International.com December 2004
Munroe, B. (2003). HMMWV. Crowood Press. UK
Samochod terenowy HMMWV Hummer, Dom Wydawniczy
Schulz, C. (2002). HMMWV – Workhorse of the US Army. Concorde Publications, Hong Kong.
Zaloga, S. (2006). HMMWV 1980-2005. Osprey Publishing, UK
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)
12.5 tonnes (13.8 US ton)
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
UG3/65, 8 forward, 4 reverse gears
Power to weight ratio
110 km/h (68 mph)
1,000 km (621 miles) (with extended range fuel tank)
Optional, up to 12.7 mm machine gun or 40 mm mortar
Protection against regular 5.56 mm and 7.62 mm NATO rounds, resistance against shrapnel, and infantry mines
3,300 kg (7275 lbs)
3.25 m (10ft8in)
1.92 m (6ft4in)
0.44 m (1ft5in)
1.2 m (3ft11in)
15 m (49ft3in)
Angle of departure
Armor, January-February 1998, New Armored Vehicles Debut at British Equipment Exhibition, Peter Brown, p.50-51.
Armored Car, issue 31, 1995, Royal Navy & British Army Equipment Exhibition 1995, Peter Brown, p.1. PDF.
Auditor-General Audit report for 2003-2004 No. 59—Performance audit Defence’s Project Bushranger: Acquisition of infantry mobility vehicles: Department of Defence, parlinfo.aph.gov.au.
BAe Foxhound, 4wdonline.com.
BAE Systems Australia Donation to the Museum, February 2020, military-vehicle-museum.org.au.
‘Betsy’ a Shorland S600 Armoured Personnel Vehicle, 8 February 2020, BAE Systems Australia.
British Aerospace Australia (BAeA), 4wdonline.com.
Bulletin des Adjucations/bulletin der Aanbestedingen, 29 September 2020, PDF.
Defense and Technology 99/8, Saudi Arabia may delay purchasing armored vehicles, p.52. PDF (Korean).
Expanded BAe Australia range wins first order, Jane’s Defence Weekly, 29 January 1997.
Forecast International, September 2014, PDF. Jane’s Tanks and Combat Vehicles Recognition Guide, Christopher F. Foss, 2000. P.232-233.
Mobile Adjustable Ramp System, chandrainternational.com.
New high-tech armoured rescue vehicle for South Australia, Attorney General’s Department, 19 May 2011, attorneygeneral.gov.au.
Politie koopt Australische Pantsers, 31 January 2001, hbvl.be.
Politiesamenwerking over de grenzen heen, January 2012, Benelux Secretary General. PDF.
Project Bushranger, 4wdonline.com.
Secretary-General, calendar year 2005, 24 July 2006, undocs.org.
S600, Jane’s report, archived 11 June 2019.
S600 APC back in production, Jane’s Defence Weekly, 4 May 2001.
Shorland S600 Armoured Personnel Vehicle, Clive Elliott, shorlandsite.com.
Short Brothers S600 Body Shell Photos, hmvf.co.uk.
Shorland S600 Series Armoured Vehicles Tenix brochure, PDF.
Tenix’s exporting success stories benefiting Adelaide firms, 11 September 2002, tenix.com.
Un blindé haut de 3 mètres, Gilbert Dupont, dhnet.be.
United Nations Register of Conventional Arms Report.
United Kingdom (2016)
Reconnaissance Tank / Armored Personnel Carrier – 589 Ordered
Ajax APC, Engineering & Reconnaissance Vehicle
The British Army needed to replace their aging fleet of light reconnaissance vehicles that have been on active service for over 40 years. They also wanted to buy a ‘platform’ armored fighting vehicle. This is a base vehicle that could come in many variants to perform different jobs on the battlefield. They would all share the same basic mechanical parts to simplify the logistics of supplying spare parts, training mechanical engineers and giving them right equipment to maintain and fix these AFV.
British Army Ajax Reconnaissance Tank (Photo: Ian Wilcox)
The British Government put out this requirement and General Dynamics UK Ltd won the contract over its competition after testing of the prototypes. In September 2014 they were awarded a £3.5 billion contract to deliver 589 AJAX platforms to the British Army. In July 2015, they were awarded a further £390 million contract to provide in-service support for the AJAX fleet until 2024.
At the same time, General Dynamics announced that it is opening a new Armoured Fighting Vehicle Assembly, Integration and Testing (AIT) facility in South Wales.
The Ajax programme was originally known as the SCOUT Specialist Vehicle (SV) programme. It was renamed by the British Army on 15 September 2015 on the same day the first turreted Ajax prototype was unveiled to the press. It was announced that the first British Army squadron will be equipped with Ajax in mid-2019.
The Ajax is powered by a German designed MTU V8 199 TE21 turbocharged diesel engine, that produces 805 hp. The engine is located at the front of the hull to enable the rear of the vehicle to stow equipment and troops. It has a German Renk 256B 6-speed fully-automatic transmission: six forward gears and five reverse gears.
During trials the test vehicle towed an additional 62 tonne weight over 300 km. Versions of the engine are currently used in the Austrian Ulan and Spanish Pizzaro AFVs. Rolls-Royce signed a £57 million deal to build the MTU V8 199 TE21 engines for all the first batch of 589 Ajax vehicles and variants.
Ajax was originally known as the SCOUT Specialist Vehicle (SV) programme.
Design and Development
The Ajax has an innovative design that gives additional protection against mine blasts. General Dynamics claim that it is the best in terms of protection and survivability in its class. Crew seats are not connected to the vehicle floor but are suspended to provide more survivability after a mine explosion.
The Ajax has a modular armor system that is fitted to the sides of the vehicle. If a section of the add-on armor is damaged it can simply be replaced by attaching a new unit. When more technologically advanced add-on armor is developed over the vehicles lifetime the old armor is taken off and the new armor bolted on in its place
General Dynamics have fitted the vehicle with electronic countermeasures, a laser warning system, an acoustic listening device, a local situational awareness system and placed the ammunition storage units outside the crew compartment.
Ajax has a gross vehicle weight rating of 42 tonne but it has a 2 tonne growth ability for extra equipment to be added to the vehicle without causing a significant impact on its performance.
The 40mm Cannon
The cased telescoped (CT) 40mm cannon will be used in the new Ajax Reconnaissance tank and an upgraded British Army Warrior AFV. The rounds contain both the projectile and the propelling charge unlike the shells used on the British Challenger 2 tank that uses two-part ammunition.
The £150 million manufacturing contract was signed by the British Ministry of Defence (MOD) and CTA International (CTAI), a joint venture between the UK’s BAE Systems and the French company Nexter. Under the terms of the contract, the company will supply 515 40mm Cased Telescoped Cannons. They will also supply initial spares, special tools, test equipment and some early training equipment. The new French Jaguar EBRC Combat and Reconnaissance Armoured vehicle will also be fitted with the CTA International 40mm CT cannon.
The ammunition is contained inside a tube. It does not have a pointed aerodynamic traditional bullet shaped nose cone. The ammunition is loaded automatically sideways to the gun barrel: the cannon is an autoloader. Loading the ammunition in this way saves a large amount of space behind the gun. This allows more ammunition to be stored. These new 40mm tubular rounds are smaller than normal 40mm rounds so more can be carried. This new system has been in development since the 1990s.
At present, there are five types of rounds available for the 40mm CT cannon: armor piercing AP round; training rounds; airburst high explosive rounds, aerial airburst round and a point detonating round for penetrating thick concrete. More are being developed and tested. (BAE Systems info)
The 40mm Aerial Airburst round can be used against drones, helicopters and light aircraft. The gun has a velocity of 900 meters per second and a range of over 4,000m. (BAE Systems info)
The 40mm Point Detonation round is for use against hardened targets. It has a velocity of 1,000 meters per second and can penetrate 210mm of concrete at 1,500m. (BAE Systems info)
The 40mm Airburst round is designed for use against multiple light targets like infantry and soft skinned supply vehicles. It has a velocity of 1,000 meters per second and has an effective area of around 125 square meters. (BAE Systems info)
The 40mm Armour Piercing Round has a velocity of 1,500 meters per second and can penetrate 140mm of hardened steel at 1,500m (BAE Systems info)
The Ajax turret is also fitted with a 7.62mm Coaxial L94A1 Machine Gun and 76mm Smoke and Fragmentation Grenade Launchers. Some of the variants that are not fitted with the turret, like the Ares armored personnel carrier is armed with a remotely-controlled 12.7mm machine gun.
ARES variation of the AJAX undergoing initial air portability trials
General Dynamics put the Ajax through initial air portability trials in May 2016 at the Joint Air Delivery Test and Evaluation Unit (JADTEU) at RAF Brize Norton. The trials were designed to test the loading of the Ajax into the cargo hold of an RAF C-17A Globemaster III and A400M Atlas transport aircraft. They used the prototype ARES variation of the AJAX during the trials. It was driven into real-size mockups of both aircraft. This enabled staff at the JADTEU to develop custom tie down systems for this new fleet of vehicles so that it can be transported anywhere in the world to support the British Army.
Mock-up cargo holds of the RAF C-17A Globemaster III and A400M Atlas transport aircraft were used to trial the Ajax vehicles ability to be transported to conflict zones by air.
Ajax Reconnaissance and Strike
The British Government ordered 198 Ajax Reconnaissance and Strike tanks on the 4th September 2014.
Ajax Joint Fire Control
The British Government ordered 23 Ajax Joint Fire Control tanks on the 4th September 2014.
Ajax Ground Based Surveillance
The British Government ordered 24 Ajax Ground Based Surveillance tanks on the 4th September 2014.
Ajax deployable all-weather intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance (ISTAR) capability AFV (Illustration: General Dynamics UK Ltd)
Ares Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC)
The British Government ordered 59 Ares Armoured Personnel Carriers (PMRS) on the 4th September 2014. It has a crew of two: commander/gunner and driver. There is accommodation for up to 7 troops. There is space for specialized and personal equipment of the soldiers. There are internal racks and stowage boxes. More equipment can be stored externally. Troops enter and leave the vehicle via rear doors. Roof hatches can be used for observation, firing and as an emergency exit.
Crew and passengers are seated on mine blast resistant seats. The Ares APC is armed with a remotely-controlled 12.7-mm machine gun that can be fired on the move under armour. The Ares will eventually replace the British Army Spartan FV103 APC. It has a route marking system to enable other armoured fighting vehicles to follow it over known safe ground.
Ares Formation Reconnaissance Overwatch
The British Government ordered 34 Ares Formation Reconnaissance Overwatch Protected Mobility Recce Support (PMRS) varients on the 4th September 2014.
The Ares APC variant will be used to deliver and support specialist troops across the battlefield.(Illustration: General Dynamics UK Ltd)
Athena Command and Control
The British Government ordered 112 Athena Command and Control (PMRS) vehicles on the 4th September 2014. The Athena will process and manage information to provide commanders with information to make informed decisions on the battlefield. It is fitted with computer work stations and map boards. The vehicle has a crew of two but also transports one ‘watchkeeper’ and three PMRS operators, a staff officer and two signallers. It has an auxiliary power unit to provide supply to the command and control electrical systems. It is fitted with the remote weapons system for self defence.
The Athena variant will process and manage information to provide commanders with information to make informed decisions on the battlefield.(Illustration: General Dynamics UK Ltd)
Argus Engineer Reconnaissance
The British Government ordered 51 Argus Engineer Reconnaissance (PMRS) vehicles on the 4th September 2014. The Argus variant will provide timely and accurate engineering information on the natural and man-made environment. It is also expected to obtain relevant information about enemy engineering activities, intentions and terrain.
It has a two man crew and an engineer operator. It is fitted with equipment that measures gap and slope. It has a behind armour demolition detonation ability, a jettisonable front end dozer blade, Battlefield Information Systems Applications (Makefast BISA) and safe route marking equipment. It is fitted with the remote weapons system for self defence.
The Argus variant will provide timely and accurate engineering information on the natural and man-made environment. (Illustration: General Dynamics UK Ltd)
Atlas Recovery vehicles
38 Atlas Recovery (PMRS) vehicles were ordered by the British Government on the 4th September 2014. The Atlas variant is fitted with a recovery package that is optimised to provide the most effective means of recovering a casualty vehicle. It has a crew of three. An Earth Anchor to enable it to pull vehicles out of holes and ditches. It is fitted with the remote weapons system for self defence. The main crane is a 300Kn winch and there is a auxiliary 8Kn winch.
The Atlas variant is fitted with equipment designed to recover a knocked out or broken down casualty vehicle. (Illustration: General Dynamics UK Ltd)
Apollo Repair vehicles
50 Apollo Repair vehicles were ordered by the British Government on the 4th September 2014. This variant can be used to tow battlefield damaged vehicles and lift heavy engine power packs. It will be able to tow a trailer containing spare parts and equipment to enable mechanical engineers to work on repairing damaged and defective vehicles close to the front line.
The 5 tonne crane has its own stabilisation system to stop the vehicle falling over when lifting large heavy loads. The crane can be powered independently of the vehicles engine so that it can change its own engine power-pack. It is fitted with the remote weapons system for self defence.
The Apollo variant will be used to tow battlefield damaged vehicles and lift heavy sub-assemblies.(Illustration: General Dynamics UK Ltd)
An Attempt of a first redition by Tank Encyclopedia’s own David Bocquelet
British Army Ajax Reconnaissance Tank (Photo: Ian Wilcox)
British Army Ajax Reconnaissance Tank (Photo: Ian Wilcox)
British Army Ajax Reconnaissance Tank (Photo: Ian Wilcox)
Rear hatch on the Ajax Reconnaissance Tank (Photo: Ian Wilcox)
Ajax Reconnaissance Tank smoke dischargers and sensors. (Photo: Ian Wilcox)
In this photo you can see the top and lower bolt-on side armour system. (Photo: General Dynamics)
In this photos of an Ajax (Scout SV) prototype, you can see that only the upper side armour bolt-on system has been added. The lower section of the track is covered by a skirt. (Photo: General Dynamics)
This Ares APC variant is fitted with a double row of bolt-on side armour and a remote controlled 12.7mm machine gun. (Photo: General Dynamics)
The prototype Ajax was called the Scout SV. This photograph was taken during a demonstration at General Dynamics European Land Systems’ facility in Seville, Spain.(Photo: General Dynamics)
The first pre-production prototype, a Protected Mobility Reconnaissance Support variant (ARES), was showcased at the NATO Summit at the Celtic Manor, Newport in September 2014. (Photo: General Dynamics)
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