January 28, 2006 We love to write about intelligently-designed, purpose-built machinery and we've noticed that there's a bit of a trend in recent times towards building transport ruggedised to withstand the rigours of armed-attack. In recent times, we've written about the world's toughest bus (the Rhino Runner), the fastest armoured 4WD in the world (the Kombat T-98), the world's first widely-available armoured luxury saloon car and the US Army's Smartruck and now this interesting and unique bus from Volvo. Built on a Volvo 4x4 truck chassis for use by the Swedish UN peace-keeping armed forces currently based in Liberia, West Africa, it is designed to carry 40 passengers and will be used primarily by UN soldiers in Liberia. However, given the current state of unrest there, it will also be possible to use the bus to evacuate local inhabitants, should the need arise.
The FMV (Swedish Defence Matérial Administration) decided to award the contract to Volvo Trucks following the customary EU negotiations.
The base for this special vehicle is a standard Volvo FM9 4x4 truck chassis, while the superstructure is a bus produced by Volvo Bus' bodywork supplier, Helmark based in Markaryd, Sweden.
"This is an all-Swedish production and the Volvo chassis is based exclusively on standard Swedish components," says Leif Johansson, head of military vehicle sales at Volvo Trucks, Nordic Region. "As a result, it will be possible for service and maintenance to be handled by our own service network, no matter where in the world the vehicles are used."
One of the requirements of the contract is that the vehicle can be driven on roads damaged by war in really rough conditions, so good ground clearance and manoeuvrability is paramount. In addition all vulnerable external areas - like headlights and indicators - are protected with metal grilles.
For passenger safety, the windows are made of a composite material containing a layer of polycarbonate, which must be able to withstand both stone throwing or attack by light firearms.
"This is the first time we have done something of this kind," adds Leif. "Although this bus is unlikely to win any design awards, this particular customer is primarily interested in its function."
The Swedish armed forces have initially ordered four of these special vehicles, with an option on a further six.