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Armored Cars: Supacat SPV400

May 15, 2019

Via Supacat.

First publicized in 2010 as an entrant in the UK defense ministry’s Light Protected Patrol Vehicle (LPPV) competition, the Supacat SPV400 was the main rival of the Foxhound that emerged victorious. With its luster having dimmed the SPV400 still counts as a rare homegrown effort by a UK company at a less cumbersome mine-protected vehicle that saves soldier’s lives. Although Supacat‘s reputation was built on its super fast commando trucks, its distinctive SPV400 maintains its place in their catalog. Besides, its finer aspects are commendable. At its best the SPV400 scales 7.5 tons fully loaded and maintains its composure when taking on the brunt of catastrophic explosions.

As a bit of a forerunner that preceded today’s modular protected trucks, the SPV400 was designed as separate compartments built around a sturdy cab also known as a “crew pod.” Its chassis is a marvel to behold, with its frame and drive train tucked inside the V-hull. The front and rear axles are detachable and the engine block is housed in an immense bonnet. It’s apparent the SPV400 put its occupants’ safety foremost but its actual ballistic protection was never revealed. But the thick bulletproof panels on its front and side doors ensures its occupants survive intermediate caliber small arms fire.

The SPV400’s cab is a modest affair, where the driver and co-driver have the most leg room, while the passengers who embark from a rear swing door are limited to four people in blast resistant seats. That totals six occupants per vehicle, which is meager considering how far and how frequently the British military travel abroad. Combat optimization is limited as well. A circular roof hatch is the only sensible position to fight in. Absent are gun ports on the sides of the hull or secondary mounts for extra machine guns.

If all around protection is too constricting, Supacat do offer a separate open top hull module for special forces. This configuration resembles Supacat’s renowned HMT 400 with generous space for cargo and weapons–a ring mount for an M2 Browning heavy machine gun and an FN MAG on a swivel arm right next to the driver’s eat. Another variant of the SPV400 is a single cab pickup with an open bed. The circular roof hatch stays the same and the vehicle’s high ground clearance and V-hull make it superior to the unprotected technicals that are so common in faraway war zones.

The SPV400 runs on a 180 horsepower Cummins diesel engine and manages a top speed of 120 kilometers per hour. It can travel 600 km on a full tank and navigates rugged terrain very well thanks to its front and rear double wishbone suspension. Supacat give customers the choice of adding a central tire inflation system and runflat tires; any additional weapons and defensive countermeasures; even a self-recovery winch for pulling itself and other vehicles. Unfortunately, the UK’s best efforts at protected wheeled transports have lost their appeal. South African manufacturers are some of the most aggressive and agile when it comes to exporting armored 4×4’s and innovation from unlikely places is taking their toll on Western European models.

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