It's the realisation of every seven-year-old boy's dream -- a bulldozer on a tank chassis with a machine gun. Known as the Terrier, this ditch-digging combat engineer vehicle is as adaptable as its canine namesake.
The Terrier is a remotely-operable armoured combat engineer vehicle built for the British Army's Royal Engineer corps by BAE Systems as a faster, better-armoured replacement for the FV180 Combat Engineer Tractor (CET). Combat engineer vehicles are designed to operate in the indirect fire zone and do stuff like obstacle and route clearance, and digging of anti-tank ditches, trenches, and armoured Fighting Vehicle slots -- basically, preparing a battlefield to provide as much help to your forces and as much hindrance to the enemy as possible.
The 27-tonne Terrier measures 6m long, 2.5m wide and 2m tall, easily able to fit in the belly of a C-17 Globemaster III or Airbus A400M. The vehicle's 700HP Caterpillar C18 diesel engine allows for a 70km/h top speed and 600km range. It can climb 60-degree hills and lift 5000kg loads without breaking a sweat as well as hurdle 2m-wide trenches and ford a metre of water. Primarily equipped with a front-mounted clamshell bucket and a side-mounted excavator arm, the Terrier vehicle can also be outfitted with a forklift or rock hammer -- even Python minefield breachers if the need arises.
For demining, the two-engineer crew remains a safe distance from the vehicle, up to a kilometer, and controls it remotely using a dual-thumbstick controller. Otherwise, they can command the Terrier directly through its drive-by-wire system, similar in concept to that found on the B-2 Stealth bomber. The vehicle is also outfitted with five onboard cameras, as well as thermal imagers, to provide a 360-degree view of the the immediate area under any lighting condition -- handy when you're trying to remotely clear a roadblock from a half mile away.
Since the Terrier does its job away from the front lines, it doesn't have much need for armament. As such, its equipped with only a roof-mounted 7.62mm machine gun and smoke grenade launcher to keep it safe, though it can optionally be kitted with remotely controlled weapon station, such as the CROWS.
The British Army took delivery of the first of 60 Terriers yesterday -- the final vehicle is expected to arrive by next January -- as part of a £360 million procurement contract. We can't wait to see them in action.