Sunday 28 December 2014

Veteran armoured car fleet retired

DON LAVERY

Published 01/05/2013 | 14:43

The Panhard AML final range shoot that took place 29 - 30 Apr 2013 in the Glen of Imaal, Co Wicklow
The Panhard AML final range shoot that took place 29 - 30 Apr 2013 in the Glen of Imaal, Co Wicklow
The Light Tactical Armoured Vehicle LTAV (replacement for the Panhard) being loaded.
The Panhard AML final range shoot that took place 29 - 30 Apr 2013 in the Glen of Imaal, Co Wicklow
The Panhard AML final range shoot that took place 29 - 30 Apr 2013 in the Glen of Imaal, Co Wicklow

It was an armoured vehicle which protected Irish troops on dangerous peace missions around the world for over five decades.

And the same armoured cars took part in a fierce battle in At Atiri in the Lebanon in 1980 where they knocked out armoured vehicles  belonging to a Lebanese militia.

But now the fleet of French Panhard AML armoured cars which have served in missions as diverse as Lebanon and Liberia and at home during

the Troubles, has been decommissioned from today (May 1.)

The four wheeled vehicles were first brought in 1964 after Irish Cavalry troopers fought modern armoured vehicles used by mercenaries in the Congo

using obsolete home built armoured cars.

The Panhards first served in Cyprus in 1964 and their last overseas mission was in Liberia where they were used in the armoured reconnaissance role.

The photos exclusive to Independent.ie show the Panhard AML 90 version using its 90mm anti-tank gun in a last shoot in the Glen of Imaal range in Co Wicklow.

Other versions used a 20mm cannnon and both versions were upgraded in South Africa in the 1990s.

The vehicle was the most powerfully armed  vehicle in the Defence Forces. Nearly 50 AMLs served with the Defence Forces.

It has now been replaced in the Cavalry Corps by three different  vehicles.

These are two versions of the eight wheeled Mowag armoured vehicle armed with heavy machineguns,

40mm grenade launchers or 30mm cannnon, and another vehicle the LTAV carrying machineguns and grenade launchers.

One UN veteran said last night about the demise of the Panhard fleet:”It’s armour  is outdated now but it is still a great weapon.

“ I allways liked patrolling in the Leb behind them!”.

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