The British Army's new Foxhound light protected patrol vehicle is a functional combination of heavy-duty armored rover designed to soldier through explosions and light, nimble field vehicle that can go where others can't. Thanks to a partnership with top names in racing, including McLaren and BMW, the Foxhound is as quick as a fox ... or at least as close as an eight-ton military vehicle can possibly be.

The vehicle strikes a cutting edge balance between all-out armored protection and in-field versatility. Britain's Ministry of Defence says that the patrol vehicle provides unprecedented levels of blast protection for its size and weight. Its V-shaped hull helps it survive explosions.

The Foxhound's superior protection is a sticking point. Its predecessor the Snatch Land Rover was a political lightning rod due to what many felt to be insufficient protection against landmines and other explosives in Iraq and Afghanistan operations. The model came under much fire and was reportedly nicknamed the "mobile coffin" in the field. The British Army announced the Foxhound as a replacement for the Snatch Land Rover in 2010.

While it will offer serious protection, the Foxhound is still lightweight and agile enough to navigate alleyways, tracks, bridges and other areas where heavier colleagues must stay behind. General Dynamics Land Systems: Force Protection Europe (GDLS:FPE), the contractor that builds the Foxhound, partnered with a team of engineers from BMW, McLaren F1, Ricardo and the World Rally Championships to outfit the Foxhound with speed capabilities up to 70 mph (112 km/h).

The vehicle is the first to be designed under what the British Army calls the "open systems" approach. It is readily upgradeable with new, off-the-shelf equipment, keeping it uniform and operable with other vehicles and technologies, and preventing it from becoming obsolete.

The Foxhound's engine can be completely removed and replaced in about 30 minutes' time. The patrol vehicle can also roll away on three wheels, in the event that one of its wheels is destroyed in an ambush.

Earlier this week, the British Army deployed a convoy of Foxhounds for testing in Afghanistan's Helmand desert. They will be used in operations later this year, and the MOD says they will be ideal for soldiers involved in mentoring and partnering roles in Afghanistan, making it easier for them to interact with Afghan security forces and people.

The Foxhound was also on display at the Defence Vehicle Dynamics Exhibition this week. The MOD has ordered a total of 300 units at a cost of £270 million. The Foxhound purchase is part of a 10-year, £5.5 billion armored vehicle program.

Source: Ministry of Defence News, BBC