Sunday 20 April 2014

'Veteran' Army cars soldier on

A fleet of Irish armoured vehicles in service for over 45 years is to soldier on for the foreseeable future. French Panhard 4x4 armoured cars first entered service in 1964, when the Defence Forces demanded modern armoured cars after they were forced to fight in home-built 1940s vintage Ford cars in the Congo operation.

Later batches were also bought, including AML-90 vehicles with a powerful 90mm anti-tank gun.

However, when the Defence Forces re-equipped with a €120m fleet of 8x8 Mowag armoured vehicles in recent years, they found that the Panhards could not keep up with the modern vehicles.

Although they served in operations in Cyprus, Lebanon, and Liberia, the Panhards were not taken to Chad or the latest mission in Lebanon.

Now the Army wants vehicle spare parts to keep the Panhard fleet on the road in Ireland. The Panhards were upgraded in the last decade by South African firm Reumech OMC, with new sights and 20mm guns.

Five years ago, outgoing Chief of Staff Lt Gen Jim Sreenan said that the next vehicle equipment priority was to get a replacement for the AML-90 fleet.

However, that now appears to have been shelved for the moment, with more Mowag reconnaissance vehicles bought for the Cavalry Corps instead.

Sunday Independent

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