The BvS10 Viking Amphibious All Terrain Vehicle aka Bandvagn 10 (UK designation “Viking”) is the most recent model of a series that tracks (excuse the pun) back to the 1960’s. The British Royal Marine Commandoes have always excelled in fighting in harsh/arctic condition and as such have needed a vehicle that focuses on the mobility aspects for them to cross these kind of conditions.
The principal design feature is the use of long, wide rubber tracks that act as a large surface thus distributing the vehicles weight preventing it from sinking (AKA low ground pressure) in snow, wet marshy conditions and sand, hence the title of “Amphibious Armoured All-Terrain Vehicle”.
The first Amphibious Armoured All-Terrain Vehicle was Volvo’s Bandvagn (Swedish for tracked) 202 AKA Bv 202. It’s production spanned from 1964 to 1981 and served with the British Royal Marine Commandoes for many years as well as other countries. It’s replacement was the Bandvagn 206, manufactured by Swedish firm Hägglunds Vehicle AB, which has since been acquired and merged with a number of other companies. As of 2006, it is part of BAE Systems Land and Armaments and is called BAE Systems AB. The Bv 206 also served with the Royal Marine Commandoes.
The Viking (nicknamed after its Scandinavian roots) AKA BvS 10, is an improved version of the Bv 206 and was a joint development between Hägglunds Vehicle AB and the UK Ministry of Defence AKA MoD. It’s a larger vehicle based on a new chassis with a new engine giving an increased hp, thus offering an increased payload and greater number of roles.
The new tracks are supplied by the Canadian firm Soucy International and whilst being 620mm’s wide, the vehicles ground pressure is almost the same as its 4ton lighter predecessor, the Bv 206. The Viking has a higher ground clearance, increasing its ability to cross obstacles and rough terrain. The Viking can ford to a depth of 1.5m and is fully amphibious within two minutes preparation and has a 5km/h water speed. The Viking like all Amphibious Armoured All-Terrain Vehicle’s comprises two sections. The front contains the driver (front left) & 3 marines, whilst the rear is either used as the principal troop compartment (8) or used to house specialist equipment. Both sections are articulately joined allowing them to be steered / move vertically and horizontally, providing a turning circle of 14m.
BvS10 Viking British Royal Marine Service
The Royal Marines are using four principal versions:
Troop Carrying Variant AKA TCV – has 1 crew plus 11 Marines.
Command Variant AKA CV – carries 2 crew plus 8 passengers. The rear cab is an enhanced digital communications centre.
Repair and Recovery Variant AKA RRV – carries 4 specialist maintenance vehicle mechanics. The rear mounts a HIAB crane, a full mobile workshop, an air compressor and a 9 tonne capacity capstan winch, together with hydraulic anchors.
During 2008, the Royal Marines were field trialling an ambulance variant of the Viking during operations in Afghanistan.
The Viking enjoys an excellent strategically mobile capability. It can be deployed by all British amphibious landing craft, C-130 Hercules and C-17 Globemaster transporter planes, Chinook helicopter (vehicle has to be empty) and even under slung by a Merlin helicopter (one section of the vehicle only).
The Viking’s hp has not only been beefed up, but is double that of the Bv 206 thanks to its new 5.9 litre Cummins six-cylinder turbo diesel engine which generates 250hp. Coupled with its Allison MD3560 six forward plus one reverse speed automatic transmission, the Viking has far exceeded the MoD’s requirements for speed. During trials it reached a top road speed of over 80 km/h! and has a 35 km/h off-road speed. It’s operational range is somewhere near 300 km.
The Viking entered service with the British Royal Marines in 2003 and final delivery of all 108 was completed in 2006. In June 2008, the MoD ordered an additional 14 Vikings. 9 RRV, 1 CV and 4 TCV. In January 2009, nine more vehicles were ordered.
BvS10 Viking Service In The Afghanistan War
In the later end of 2006, British Royal Marine Commandoes went on to relive elements of the British Para’s fighting in Afghanistan. The vehicle proved more than capable of getting them around the battlefield, however by 2008 they were proving susceptible to increased mine & IED attacks by the Taliban.
The Viking was not designed for forward line engagements and protection is only rated to withstand 7.62mm rounds. It’s offensive capabilities are limited to a roof mounted 7.62mm GPMG on the front section of the vehicle. The driver can operator forward smoke grenade launchers which can also fire phosphorus grenades.
The British Army was also using the Viking for transporting equipment for the Watchkeeper UAV. They have 21 Vikings for this role, purchased in 2008.
Following deployment with the Royal Marines, the Viking was retained and operated by the British Army RAC and called the “Viking Group”.
The Viking has been a victim of its own success. Its excellent mobility which can not be matched by any other British Forces vehicles operating in Afghanistan has seen it being pushed forward in to fighting, but its poor armour has seen the sad loss of a number of British service men.
In October 2008 the MoD announced that the Viking will be withdrawn from fighting in Afghanistan and will be replaced by the Bronco All Terrain Tracked Carrier developed by the Singapore firm ST Kinetics. 100 of these more heavily armoured vehicles AKA Warthog by British forces, have been ordered at the cost of £150 million. They entered service in Afghanistan in late 2009 and the Viking Group was re-named the “Warthog Group”.
The Netherlands Marine Corp also now deploys the Viking and have 74 to compliment their 156 Bv 206’s. They have deployed the Viking in the Republic of Chad in central Africa.
The British Royal Marines Still retained in service.