February 24, 2009:
Afghanistan is SUV country. Heavier vehicles, like armored ones, run into lots of problems. Afghanistan is generally roadless, and contains numerous deserts, hills and mountains. Most of the roads are dirt, often just tracks across plains and hills. This situation is bad for trucks and wheeled armored vehicles. American and NATO troops have found that the best way to get across this terrain is with tracked vehicles. Canada, for example, first sent it's wheeled LAV armored vehicles along with its troops. The LAVs had a hard time with all the nasty terrain. So Canada sent some Leopard tanks, and suddenly the troops had combat vehicles that could get around quickly and easily.
But there still remained the problem of getting supplies moved without vehicles getting stuck or flipping over. The solution, it turned out, was again, tracked vehicles. The British Royal Marines brought with them unarmored Bv206 (which can carry 2.5 tons over any terrain. including snow and most marshland) tracked vehicles. The larger BvS10 can haul five tons. The BvS10 is actually an articulated vehicle, with a tracked trailer connected by a power transfer and steering linkage. The front part weighs 4.9 tons, the rear part 3.1 tons. Because of this trailer arrangement, the vehicle has a 47 foot turning radius. Four passengers can be carried in the front car, and eight on the rear one. The vehicle is amphibious and has a top speed in the water of five kilometers an hour (compared to 65 kilometers an hour on land.) The vehicle are Swedish, and built to cope with the marshes and mountains the country is full of, as well as deep snow.
The Royal Marines mainly got the Viking for amphibious operations, as well as logistics and carrying troops in combat zones. The Viking is also able to move through swampy terrain, as well as snow. It's well suited for Afghanistan, where they can be lifted by a CH-47 Chinook helicopter, or a C-130 transport. Lifting the two sections of the vehicle separately, the smaller Merlin helicopter can move the vehicle.
Last year, the Royal Marines got 108 armored, "Viking" (BvS10) all terrain combat vehicles, at a cost of $890,000 each. They used these vehicles, armored versions of the Bv206, in combat for the first time in Afghanistan, and were well satisfied with the performance, and protection, the vehicles provided.
Canadian troops also used Bv206s for moving supplies, and discovered that the light ground pressure created by the wide tracks, tended to go over landmines without detonating them. The light ground pressure was designed for allowing the vehicle to move over snow.
Success of the Bv206 in Afghanistan has led to more sales to the Royal Marines, and interest from several other countries. The Bv206 widely employed for civilian uses, from Antarctica to the tropics.