June 26, 2013: Strategy Page
Recently, after 14 years of effort the British Army finally got its first Terrier engineer vehicle. Think of this as an armored bulldozer that has lots of attachments that enable it to do all sorts of construction jobs on the battlefield. Britain needed the 30 ton Terrier to replace the elderly (entered service in 1976) 17 ton FV180s.
The British Army officially began the Terrier procurement program in 1999. In 2002 the army signed the contract to have the Terrier designed and manufactured. The price went up (from $5 million each to $9 million) and the quantity went down (from 100 to 60). It’s not unusual for projects like this to take over a decade, while getting a lot more expensive.
Most other nations do not require as much time to develop new combat engineering vehicles because they take recently retired (or currently in service) tanks, remove the turret (and replace it with a fixed armored structure) and add the engineer attachments (bulldozer blade, drills, hoists and so on). This takes much less time, providing a more robust vehicle and, if you are using older tanks, does not cost much more (to refurbish and rebuild the old tank chassis.)
The Terrier has an advantage in that it can more easily be moved by air (since it is not based on the chassis of a tank). Beyond that it has all the usual engineer capabilities. It can act as a bulldozer, dig trenches, drill into and shatter concrete and, like many current combat engineer vehicles, be operated by remote control. Also, like other current armored vehicles, the Terrier has five vidcams that lets the crew (of two) see all around the vehicle. In addition there is a thermal imager enabling the vehicle to safely make its way through a combat zone. The only weapons on these engineering vehicles are some machine-guns and, in some models, a short range cannon for firing demolition shells (to destroy obstacles or structures).