The British Army has taken ownership of its first Terrier combat engineer vehicle, which maker BAE Systems claims is the most advanced of its type. The armored vehicle has been described as a Swiss Army Knife for the battlefield, capable of clearing routes or creating cover. Perhaps most significantly, the Terrier is drive-by-wire, and can be controlled remotely with a device very much like a console game pad.

Terrier's main trick appears to be moving stuff out of the way (or strategically into the way), be it clearing routes or digging trenches for troops on the ground, or hollowing out anti-tank ditches and offensive armored vehicle positions. It's equipped with a hydraulic front bucket and an excavating arm for just such purposes.

A "quick-hitch" mechanism allows both the bucket and the excavator to be replaced with other attachments. The bucket can be switched to a forklift-type appendage, a "ripper" (to break up roads), or a device capable of clearing mines placed on roads. Alternatives to the excavator include a drill and a gripping, lifting attachment.

Terrier's drive-by-wire system means the vehicle is controlled through electronics rather than mechanics. Its tracks can be controlled by a pair of joysticks (or thumbsticks) and the digging systems can be operated through Terrier's computer systems.

By using five onboard cameras to see, Terrier can be controlled remotely at a range of up to 1 km (0.6 miles) using a device much like a games console control pad, which BAE Systems claims makes control straightforward for new recruits to pick up. The company has also developed full-motion simulators to train onboard crews of two.

Terrier is equipped with environmental comfort controls and thermal imaging, which supposedly make Terrier suitable for day and night operations in desert or arctic conditions. The vehicle isn't entirely defenseless either, mounted as it is with a machine gun and smoke grenade launcher.

Its weight of 32 tonnes makes it transportable by an Airbus A400M or Boeing C-17 Globemaster military transport aircraft. Once on the ground, the Terrier can travel at a maximum speed of 70 km/h (43 mph). On the road, it has a range of 600 km (370 miles).

The British Army is taking ownership of 60 Terriers, the last of which is due for delivery in January. Here's a BAE Systems video of Terrier in action.

Sources: BAE Systems, British Army