An increasing number of countries around the world are now deploying fleets of 8×8 Armoured Fighting Vehicles (AFV) with the baseline version normally being an Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) or an Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC) with both of these being fitted with a manned turret or Remote Weapon Station (RWS).
While some Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) have the capability to design and manufacture the complete system, including the running 8×8 hull and turret, some contractors just concentrate on supplying the baseline running hull. This leaves the end user greater flexibility in the selection of not only the armour and survivability package, seating arrangements, hatches and doors, but also the weapon system. The main value in many platforms is in supplying the turret and for this reason some OEM, for example General Dynamics Land Systems – Canada (GDLS-Canada) and Nexter, can supply the complete vehicle (hull and turret) as well as a training package and integrated logistic support (ILS). Initially, one or two person turrets were armed with a 20 or 25 mm cannon coupled to day/image intensification sights.
There is a clear trend today to fit two person turrets with a larger calibre weapon such as a 30 mm dual feed cannon and fit stabilised day/thermal sights incorporating a laser rangefinder allowing hunter killer target engagements to take place. Gun control equipment (GCE) is now all all electric rather than hydraulic. Finland deploys the Patria Armoured Modular Vehicle (AMV) fitted with a Norwegian Kongsberg RWS normally armed with a 12.7 mm machine gun (MG). The Swedish AMV has the same RWS. The Finnish Army also deploys the AMV fitted with the Patria AMOS twin barrelled 120 mm mortar system. Other AMV export customers fit their specific weapon systems as well as usually developing specialised versions to meet their own requirements.
The Polish Army has a version of the AMV called the ROSOMAK with the IFV version fitted with the locally manufactured version of the Italian Leonardo (previously Oto Melara) HITFIST 30 two person turret armed with a stabilised 30 mm Northrop Grumman (previously SATK) MK44 dual feed cannon and 7.62 mm co-axial MG. The turret also features locally developed laser warning system. The Polish Army deploys many specialised versions of the ROSOMAK including one fitted with a locally developed HSW RAK turret mounted 120 mm breech loaded mortar system.
To replace its currently deployed RATEL (6×6) family of vehicles (FOV), South Africa will deploy a version of the AMV called the BADGER in five versions which will have a two person Modular Combat Turret (MCT) developed by Denel Land Systems. The IFV version is armed with a locally developed 30 mm GI-30 dual feed cannon and a 7.62 mm co-axial MG while the anti-tank version has pods of Denel Dynamics INGWE laser guided Anti-Tank Guided Missiles (ATGM) either side which have a maximum range of up to 5,000 m.
The French Army has taken delivery from Nexter of 630 Vehicule Blinde de Combat de Infanterie (VBCI) of which 520 are in the IFV configuration and the remaining 110 in the command post vehicle (CPV) configuration. The IFV is fitted with a Nexter one-person turret armed with a Nexter M811 25 mm dual feed cannon and 7.62 mm co-axial MG while the CPV has a FN RWS armed with a 12.7 mm MG. While the 25 mm weapon would normally be laid onto the target by the gunner, the commander is provided with a panoramic sight mounted on top of the turret allowing for hunter/killer target engagements.
For the export market Nexter has marketed the VBCI fitted with their private venture two person T40 turret armed with a CTAI 40 mm Case Telescoped Armament System (CTAS), roof mounted 7.62 mm MG and optional an ATGM mounted either side. The installation of the latter allows high value targets such as Main Battle Tanks (MBTs) to be engaged beyond the range of the 40 mm CTAS. As well as being marketed in the manned configuration, the T40 turret is also being marketed in the unmanned configuration.
The German Army deploys the Artec BOXER (8×8) Multi-Role Armoured Vehicle (MRAV) as an APC fitted with a Krauss-Maffei Wegmann FLW 200 RWS, typically armed with a 12.7 mm MG or a 40 mm automatic grenade launcher (AGL). Lithuania deploys BOXER as an IFV under the local name of the VILKAS (WOLF), fitted with a Rafael SAMSON II RCT armed with a 30 mm MK44 cannon and 7.62 mm MG with these weapons being reloaded under armour.
Following a competition, the Australian Army selected BOXER to replace its Australian Light Armoured Vehicle (ASLAV-25) (8×8) armed with a 25 mm M242 cannon and 7.62 mm deployed in the reconnaissance role. The Australian BOXER reconnaissance version is fitted with the latest Rheinmetall LANCE two person turret armed with a stabilised Rheinmetall (previously Mauser) 30 mm MK30-2 dual feed cannon which in addition to firing conventional natures of ammunition can also fire Air Bursting Munition (ABM) rounds.
UK has also selected the BOXER (8×8) with the baseline vehicle equipped with the Norwegian Kongsberg RWS armed with a 12.7 mm MG supplied via Thales UK. The Royal Netherlands Army BOXERs also have a Norwegian Kongsberg RWS armed with a 12.7 mm RWS. Detachable rear mission module of the BOXER (8×8) MRAV offers mission flexibility for the end user and the vehicle has recently been demonstrated with the rear mission module fitted with the John Cockerill Defense C3015 turret armed with a 105 mm high pressure gun and 7.62 mm co-axial MG.
The first Italian Army 8×8 was the CENTAURO Mobile Gun System (MGS) fitted with a Leonardo 105 mm turret. This is being followed by the CENTAURO II (8×8) with a 120 mm turret. These have been fitted to other 8×8 platforms for trials. To operate alongside the CENTAURO MGS, the Italian Army deploys an expanding fleet of FRECCIA (8×8) IFVs fitted with a two person Leonardo turret armed with a 25 mm cannon and 7.62 mm co-axial MG.
Serbia & Switzerland
Serbia has developed and placed in production the Yugoimport LAZAR (8×8) which can be fitted with a variety of RWS and turret options including a Russian turret armed with a 30 mm 2A42 dual feed cannon and 7.62 mm co-axial MG.
The Swiss General Dynamics European Land Systems – Mowag PIRANHA is the most widely used 8×8 in the West and is also manufactured in Canada and the USA to meet local requirements. Latest PIRANHA 5 (8×8) is being selected by an increasing number of countries including Denmark (309), Romania (227) and Spain (348) for local production/assembly with the end user selecting the weapon fit.
PARS (8×8) was developed by the Turkish company FNSS Savunma Sistemleri as a private venture for the home and export markets. The first PARS customer was Malaysia who took delivery of 257 PARS I vehicles under the local designation of the AV8 with final assembly of most of these being undertaken in Malaysia at the facilities of Deftech. Of these, the IFV is fitted with the FNSS SHARPSHOOTER one-person turret armed with a stabilised Northrop Grumman 25 mm M242 dual feed cannon and 7.62 mm MG.
The armoured IFV is fitted with a version of the South African Denel Land Systems LCT-30 turret armed with a stabilised 30 mm GI-30 cannon and 7.62 mm co-axial MG. The increased weight of this turret means it is not fully amphibious as are most other members of this FOV.
The second customer for PARS is Oman who has taken delivery of the 172 in both the 8×8 (145) and 6×6 (27) versions with some of the former fitted with the latest generation FNSS Savunma Sistemleri SABER one person turret a 25 mm cannon and 7.62 mm co-axial MG.
Turkey has selected the latest PARS III (8×8) and will take delivery of 100 units in both 8×8 and 6×6 versions with these having a much higher local content in the areas of turrets, power pack and driveline.
Using internal research and development funding the Turkish company of OTOKAR developed the ARMA FOV in 8×8 and 6×6 configurations with a 90 per cent share of common components. The first version to enter production was the 6×6 for Bahrain, fitted with a RWS, followed by Azerbaijan. The 8×8 can be fitted with a wide range of turrets including the Otokar MIZRAK RCT, armed with a stabilised 30 mm cannon and 7.62 mm co-axial MG, fitted with two stabilised day/thermal sights for hunter/killer target engagements. The 8×8 has also been shown fitted with a John Cockerill Defense turret armed with a 105 mm gun fed by an automatic loader and 7.62 mm co-axial MG.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KOSA) is one of the larger users of the GDLS-Canada Light LAV (8×8) and is now taking delivery of the latest generation fitted with John Cockerill Defense C3000 series two person turrets in two configurations. The C3030 turret is armed with a Northrop Grumman 30 mm MK44 dual feed cannon and 7.62 mm co-axial MG while the C3105 is armed with a 105 mm rifled gun fed by a bustle mounted automatic loader.
This turret is also in production for installation on the TIGER light/medium tank developed by FNSS Savunma Sistemleri now in production for Indonesia.
KOSA also deploys an earlier LAV fitted with other turrets including the former Royal Ordnance 120 mm Armoured Mortar System (AMS) with MECAR supplying a complete family of ammunition. All marketing of the AMS has ceased and Patria have supplied 36 of their 120 mm NEMO turret mounted mortar systems for installation of KOSA LAV (8×8) as well as supplying a batch for installation of coastal craft deployed by the United Arab Emirates.
The US Marine Corps took delivery of 758 LAV (8×8) from the now GDLS-Canada in six configurations with the LAV-25, used for the reconnaissance mission, fitted with a two person turret armed with a 25 mm M242 cannon and 7.62 mm MG coupled to day/image intensification sights, although in recent years thermal sights have been added. The US Army has adopted a version of the LAV called STRYKER (8×8) with the baseline version being designated the M1126 Infantry Carrier Vehicle (ICV) and fitted with a Kongsberg RWS typically armed with a 12.7 mm MG. The most powerfully armed version was the STRYKER 105 mm Mobile Gun System (M1128) fitted with a low profile turret armed with a 105 mm gun and 7.62 mm co-axial MG, but these have been phased out of service.
To meet an urgent requirement, the US Army took delivery of 81 STRYKER fitted with the Norwegian Kongsberg RCT (now called the RT40) armed with a 30 mm XM813 cannon and 7.62 mm co-axial MG with these being deployed to Europe and called the DRAGOON. A key feature of the RT40 is that the weapons can be reloaded under armour protection.
Following a competition, in June 2021 the US Army awarded Oshkosh Defense a contract worth US$942.9M to integrate a 30 mm Medium Caliber Weapon System (MCWS) onto the STRYKER Double V-hull ICV for deployment with three of the the US Army’s STRYKER Brigade Combat Teams (SBCT).
For this contract, Oshkosh Defense is teamed with Pratt Miller and Rafael Advanced Defence Systems with the MCWS based on the Rafael SAMPSON RCT. The first contract is for 91 vehicles with the second for 83 units. Canada operates a large fleet of 8×8 including the latest LAV-25 which is fitted with a GDLS turret armed with a 25 mm M242 cannon and 7.62 mm co-axial MG. Canada has also exported LAVs to Australia, Colombia and New Zealand.
The Austrian Army, and some export customers, deploy the now General Dynamics European Land Systems – Steyr PANDUR (6×6) APC and variants and further development as a private venture resulted in the Pandur II which is marketed in both 8×8 and 6×6 versions.
The PANDUR (8×8) has been sold to the Czech Republic and Portugal and more recently the Philippines with examples coming from the Czech Republic with the prime contractor being Elbit of Israel with the deal also including a light/medium tank based on the latest GDELS ASCOD tracked platform with both of these having a 105 mm turret. Indonesia has also ordered the PANDUR II (8×8) with a weapon system.
While European contractors have been the main developers of 8×8 wheeled AFV, other countries have developed and placed these in production including:
- STK of Singapore (TERREX)
- Hyundai Rotem of South Korea (KW2)
- Taiwan (CLOUD LEOPARD)