The first batch of Panther Command and Liaison Vehicles has been delivered to British troops in Afghanistan. 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 front line.
Outfitted for operation in this harsh combat zone, the Panther weighs over seven tons, equipped with integrated armor, remote-controlled weapon station. The first Panthers that were delivered to 1 Mechanized Brigade for training in the summer of 2008, has undergone design adjustments following a series of hot weather trials to make them ready for operations in Afghanistan. As part of the recent modifications, over 60 vehicles were processed by BAE Systems Global Combat Systems Newcastle’s plant fitted with augmented protection for the engine, installed with a fourth seat was added and rear-view camera was installed to improve situational awareness. Vehicles destined for Afghan theater are also fitted with suitable IED jammers.
More than 400 Panthers are being assembled by BAE Systems under a £160m contract. It is intended that the Panther will replace vehicles including Combat Reconnaissance Vehicle (Tracked), Fighting Vehicle 430, Saxon, and Land Rover Truck Utility Medium. Panther is air-transportable and can be underslung beneath a Chinook helicopter. It is armed with a 7.62 mm L7 general purpose machine gun-equipped remote weapon station, which can be upgraded to a 12.7mm weapon if required, and an appropriate day/night sighting system. The armored citadel provides crew protection from small arms fire and blast mines. The Panther is protected against a range of threats including small arms and blast and anti-personnel mines.
The Panther MLV is based on the Light Multi-Role Vehicle (LMV) builtin Italy by Iveco. The vehicle is in service with the Italian Army as well asa number of NATO military forces.