The British Hippo Beach Recovery Vehicle

The British Hippo Beach Recovery Vehicle

The British Hippo Beach Recovery Vehicle is a conversion by Alvis Moelv of a Leopard 1A5 tank.

In 2003, the Centurion BARV’s replacement was introduced. This is tThe British Hippo Beach Recovery Vehicle, which had been in development under the project name of “Future Beach Recovery Vehicle” (FBRV). The Hippo is a conversion by Alvis Moelv of a Leopard 1A5 tank. The incorporation of Alvis Vickers into BAE Systems meant that elements of the work moved to BAE Land Systems, Sweden, formerly known as “Hägglunds”, another ex-Alvis company.

As with earlier generations of BARV, the main alteration has been the replacement of the turret with a raised superstructure which, in this case, resembles the bridge or wheelhouse of a small ship. The original 830 hp (634 kW) diesel engine has been retained but the gearing of the transmission had been lowered; this has reduced the vehicle’s road speed from 65 km/h (40 mph) to 32 km/h (20 mph), but its tractive force has been increased to 250 kN (56,000 lbf).

Other modifications include the addition of working platforms, a nosing block, raised air intakes and an auxiliary power unit; this has raised the weight of the vehicle from 42.5 tonnes to 50 tonnes. The Hippo has a fording depth of 2.95m and can pull vehicles up to 50 tonnes weight or push off from the beach a 240 tonne displacement landing craft.

Currently, four Hippos are in service, one each on HMS Albion and Bulwark, with two based at the 11 (Amphibious Trials and Training)Squadron, 1 Assault Group Royal Marines. The vehicle is reportedly well liked by its users, but its lack of commonality with the other armoured vehicles used by the UK has caused spares support problems.

The Netherlands Marine Corps operates four similar Dutch Leopard 1V-based BRV vehicles known as Hercules, Samson, Goliath and Titan which operate out of the Royal Netherlands Navy assault ships of the Rotterdam class. The vehicles have a similar specification but a different cabin appearance. They too replaced Centurion BARVs.