After some bad experiences with its up-armored Mercedes “Gelendevagen” in Afghanistan, Norway decided that they needed patrol vehicles with better protection. In 2006, therefore, they placed an order for 25 blast-resistant Iveco MLV/LMV vehicles, which are called Lynx by the Italians and Panther by the UK.
Deliveries began in 2006, and the vehicle’s performance in Afghanistan has led to additional orders over the years. A 2013 buy brings Norway’s order total to 170.
Iveco’s Light Multirole Vehicles
At just under 500 cm/ 16’5″ long, 205cm/ 6’9″ wide, and 6500 kg/ 14,300 pounds, the M65 Light Multirole Vehicle (LMV) is air-transportable in EH101 and CH-47 helicopters (2) and C-130 aircraft (2). Iveco’s F1C common rail Euro 3, variable geometry turbo charged engine provides power, which is coupled to an automatic transmission, hydrosteering, off-road anti-lock brakes, a central tire inflation system, and independent suspension. With brief preparation, the LMV can ford depths of 1.5m/ 5 feet.
The vehicle is similar to the USA’s Humvees in size, but unlike the up-armored Humvees the USA was buying in 2006, the MLV has much better protection against IED land mines. A shallow v-hull is part of that equation, but only part. Iveco designers wanted to keep the stability and transportability of HMMWV class vehicles, which led them away from a full v-hull. To compensate, they implemented a number of other design features. According to Army Technology:
* “The lower part of the vehicle has a three-layer sandwich structure that collapses on detonation of a mine under the belly, absorbing a high percentage of the energy that has not been vented away laterally.”
* “The MLV’s wheel stations are located away from the crew cabin so that if a wheel detonates an antitank mine, the explosion is vented upwards, leaving the crew cabin undamaged.”
* “The bonnet is hinged to the chassis to reduce the shock transmitted to the cabin.”
* “The light alloy rear body is fitted with a canvas roof over a supporting frame. It is sacrificial and severs from the cabin in the event of a mine detonation under a rear wheel.”
* “The location of heavy components under the cabin floor has been avoided because they can be projected through the cabin floor by a mine blast.”
The overall MLV Protection system meets various levels, from STANAG level 1 to STANAG level 4. Defense Update’s profile notes that Italian MLVs use the latest version AMAP composite armor to get to STANAG 4, placing the applique armor panels in pre-set slots between the inner and outer hull. The armor protection of the MLV is concealed under the panels, and can be quickly changed to meet mission requirements, or to make use of better materials as they become available.
Norway’s MLVs also protect their gunners by hosting a Norwegian-designed Kongsberg Protector Remote-controlled Weapon Station up top, whose machine gun and advanced day/night sensors can be controlled from within the vehicle.
Iveco’s M65 LMV Lynx has been procured under various designations by the UK (401 with options for 400 more) and Italy (2,000) as initial customers. Subsequent exports have included Austria (150), Belgium (440 + options), Croatia (10), the Czech Republic (170), Norway (170), Russia (358), Slovakia (10), and Spain (270).
Why The Rush?
Reader Endre Lunde translated a Norwegian “Dagbladet” article, which explains that the initial procurement process was conducted within only 2 months. That’s extremely fast by any military standards, and especially so for Norway. A 2005 report by the Auditor General of Norway had criticized the general process of procurement by the armed forces, showing that they were often slow and inefficient.
“Why they were in such a hurry now is not clear, but the events of Meymaneh in Afghanistan in early February probably played in, and created a momentum to speed up the process. In this particular event, the Norwegian led PRT base in the North-Afghan city was attacked and at least one of their vehicles burned. With Norway taking part in the current expansion and redeployment of the ISAF, defense officials probably saw a need to provide for better mine and small-arms protection, to avoid more pictures of burning Norwegian vehicles as seen in the February incident. Now it is only to hope that the process was conducted according to regulations… to avoid another Siemens-scandal and more parliamentary special committees.”
If that was the plan, it seems to have been a good one.
Contracts & Key Events
Jan 27/13: Iveco announces Norway’s 4th order for its LMVs. With this buy of 62, Norway’s order total reaches 169: 25 initial + 35 UOR + 47 options + 62. The new DLO contract also includes support for Norway’s entire fleet.
The LAV has already been extensively fielded by the Norwegian Army in Afghanistan, alongside similar vehicles from 7 other ISAF nations. The new buy offers a number of incremental improvements over past versions, including a new higher-performance driveline, new air filtration system, an extensively redesigned interior to improve crew ergonomics, new seats, a next-generation dashboard, and an upgraded hardtop. The result is more internal volume, more payload, and hoped-for improvements to time in-service.
Norway’s new vehicles will have the option of mounting a machine gun manned by a gunner, or a Remote Weapon Station from Norway’s Kongsberg that adds advanced day/night sensors, and can be targeted and fired from inside the vehicle. Photos of front-line vehicles show both arrangements.
September 2008: Norway exercises the option on its original contract, ordering 47 more LMVs and bringing its total to 107. Source: Iveco.
December 2007: Norway issues an Urgent Operational request for 35 more LMVs,bringing its order total to 60. Source: Iveco.
March 24/06: Initial contract. The EUR 8 million ($9.64 million at that day’s conversion) order is for 25 vehicles, to be delivered in 2006 (15) and 2007 (10).
Norway also exercised this contract’s option to buy another 47 vehicles over a 2 year period, which raised the buy to 72. Iveco already has an industrial offsets program in place, though specifics weren’t given.
Thanks to DID reader Endre Lunde for the original briefing and translations, which happened long before he went to work handling communications for Norway’s F-35 program.
* Forsvaret (March 24/06) – Forsvaret kjoper lettpansrede kjoretoy. This is the official Defense Press Release (In Norwegian)
* Dagbladet (March 29/06) – Dette er Forsvarets nye panserdoning This article appeared in the Norwegian newspaper “Dagbladet” (in Norwegian)
* Norwegian Armed Forces (Feb 28/06) – February: Norwegian soldiers attacked in Afghanistan (in English) with picture of a burning Norwegian vehicle
* UK MoD (May 12/09) – Panther arrives in Afghanistan. Details some additional modification to British vehicles, including a rear view camera, protected engine compartment, a 4th crew member, and theater-specific electronic counter-measures.