Good news for the Belgian special forces and parachute commandos: the Kingdom’s Council of Ministers on 4th December approved the procurement of new rapid reaction vehicles (RRVs) to replace those venerable Iltis jeeps that are still in service. The British company Jankel Armouring Ltd., specialised in providing armour for tactical vehicles, will be delivering a total 108 Fox RRVs.
It will thus have only taken a few weeks for Jankel’s Fox, unveiled at London’s DSEI exhibition in September, to find a first export customer. The British company won the contract, worth an estimated €25-€30m against two other companies. “The procurement of these RRVs comes in the framework of the defence ministry’s decision to use motorised light land expeditionary forces in order to undertake operations which are speedy, autonomous and flexible,” the Council of Ministers writes on its internet site.
According to the Belgian Defence Ministry’s statement, the 108 vehicles will be delivered with 38 modular protection kits as well as 60 removable systems equipped with smoke launchers, and annual technical support. The future RRV will be equipped with the usual types of weapons found on this category of vehicle: 7.62mm machine gun, 12.7mm heavy machine gun, 40mm automatic grenade launcher. As the ministry of defence wants the troops to be able to use the Fox RRV from 2016, first deliveries should take place in the next few weeks.
The Fox is a militarised version of the 4×4 Toyota Land Cruiser. According to Jankel, adaptability is one of the key elements of this vehicle, enabling it to be rapidly configured to different types of mission: personnel transport, recovery, cargo transport, etc. The Fox RRV can be equipped either with a V6 petrol engine or a V8 diesel engine, both of which can be coupled to either manual or automatic transmission.
The Fox will replace the Iltis light tactical jeep that has been in the Belgian Army for more than 30 years and is now destined for enthusiasts’ garages. Once appreciated for its performances and its agility, the Volkswagen vehicle is today nevertheless obsolete because its ballistic protection is no match for mines and other improvised explosive devices. In fact, there are only 156 left in service out of the 2,500 delivered, most of them having already been replaced by heavier platforms such as Iveco’s Lynx.
Even though they have had to tighten their belt because of budgetary constraints, the Belgian land forces are thus making some progress in their modernisation plans. Other than the Fox RRV, Belgian units recently took delivery of new Spike LR ground-to-ground missiles and are continuing their transition from the FNC assault rifle to the FN SCAR.