For this weeks Modern Equipment of the British army blog we will be looking at the Panther Command and Liaison Vehicle (CLV)
The Panther CLV was required to take over the command vehicle role in British Regiments. This job was previously done by the command versions of the Landrover, Saxon, and CVRT. These vehicles were heavily modified to fit the new Bowman communication gear and were found to be less than satisfactory.
The command Landrover FFR especially was massively overweight with the new Bowman gear in the back, severely hampering its cross country performance.
The Panther CLV is specifically designed to house the command version of the British forces Bowman communication system. Whilst on operations the Panther is designated to the commander of a unit allowing him to have full visibly of all his assets on a battlefield.
Pictures of the vehicle interior are pretty hard to come by so here is a picture of the author in one in the Falkland islands in 2011! The screen in front of me is for the remote weapons mount that has Thermal imaging and even a windscreen wiper for the camera!
Based on the Italian Iveco Light Multirole Vehicle, more than 400 have been made in a 160 million pound contract between 2006-2008.
In British service it has its seats reduced from 5 to 4 to accommodate the masses of radio gear. It has also been heavily up armored and armed for British use.
The vehicle has been tested in Afghanistan (OP Herrick) as shown in this video.
Its excellent mine protection characteristics and remote weapons mount means it has also found a role as a force protection vehicle in Afghanistan, escorting convoys and assets around the country.
As mentioned above the panthers remote weapons mount can be fitted with a 7.62 General Purpose machine gun or a Minimi 5.56mm Light machine gun.
It is targeted by the co-driver using a joystick and the video screen, the optics on the BAE Enforcer remote weapons mount are excellent and the un-cooled thermal sight especially is a great piece of kit, here is a picture and a video of the screen showing it in action.
The panther CLV is a great command vehicle and weapons platform, however it has found to be time consuming to maintain. Changing a simple fan belt involves removing the belly armor! (a pretty horrible job)
The maximum speed of the Iveco LMV is 81mph on paper but with the extra weight of the Panthers modification it is reduced to around 60mph in British service. Its extra weight means its off road capability is also hampered significantly and is best suited to road use.
In conclusion the Panther CLV brings the British forces command system into the 21st century by using a specifically designed vehicle for the Command role instead of 'bolting on' components to existing vehicles.
However its excessive weight and lack of cross country mobility limits it somewhat in full scale battle group operations, its surprising niche as a force protection vehicle a means its will be around for a while however.
That wraps it up for this weeks edition of Modern Equipment of the British Armed Forces. Stay tuned next week where we will be talking a look at the Jackal MWMIK or as its know to it's operators 'the mobile coffin'.
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