Thursday, October 16, 2008

Afghan Fighting Vehicles

Not counting old Soviet relics and Taliban Toyotas, there are a lot of military vehicles in Afghanistan. The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) consists of 26 NATO countries and 14 non-NATO countries. Each country's army brings its own equipment. We take a look at some of their four-wheeled vehicles here.

France: Vehicule de l'Avant Blinde. Over 5,000 VABs have been built since 1976. In 2003, Renault took over its manufacture. They are amphibious (propelled by two water jets). The Moroccan army used theirs to mow down Western Saharan rebels. The French used VABs to recapture parts of Kandahar province from the Taliban.

Germany: ATF Dingo 2. The Dingo is based on a Unimog and has a V-shaped hull to maximize protection from mines and IEDs. The Czechs in Afghanistan also use Dingos and they are not happy with them. Apparently, they are underpowered and have failed to keep up with other vehicles at 60 kilometers per hour and even failed to climb a hill once. Also, they complain that the engines are temperamental and sensitive to bad fuel. This does not sound like a recipe for success.

Australia: Bushmaster. Australians know something about desert conditions. The Bushmaster may be the only combat vehicle with air conditioning standard. But it's the red kangaroo logo that makes this my favorite infantry transport vehicle.

Great Britain: Land Rover Wolf. To entrust your life during a pitched battle to a British-designed and British-built Land Rover is the very definition of bravery. I will never forget a one-sentence review of the Defender 90 that I read in a Brit car magazine: Panel gaps that can be seen from space.

Canada: RG-31 Nyala. Canadian forces have lost a lot of good men in Afghanistan. These brave soldiers ride in South African RG-31 Nyalas. It is becoming popular with the UN and even NGOs because of their less-threatening appearance. Very apropos for the Canucks.


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