As part of the CATV (Collaborative All-Terrain Vehicle) initiative, Sweden, Germany, and the United Kingdom inked a contract with BAE Systems to procure 436 Swedish BvS10 articulated armoured personnel carriers two weeks ago. The vehicles are designed to operate in the harshest terrain conditions, including the Arctic.
The acquisition of the BvS10 vehicles coincides with NATO’s rising interest in the Arctic. According to NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg, Russia’s efforts in the Arctic region have intensified. It has reopened former Soviet bases and is conducting missile testing here.
According to the leader of NATO, China’s interest in the Arctic is growing due to climate change, creating more space for shipping and raw material exploitation in the region. China aims to construct the world’s largest fleet of icebreakers, allowing freight (and military) ships to reach Europe via the northern route and extracting Arctic raw materials. More than twenty per cent of the world’s technically exploitable new fossil fuel resources are situated in the Arctic, according to estimates. NATO also believes that Russia and China are cooperating in the Arctic.
The Northeast Passage is the quickest sea route between Europe and Asia, reducing the trip by 25 to 35 per cent compared to the conventional route via the Suez Canal. This results in high cost and time savings for international commerce.
The Arctic is rich in natural resources like gas and oil, is the quickest maritime route between Europe and East Asia, and is the gateway to the North Atlantic, the “inner sea” of Western civilization. Consequently, the interest of the big powers and the Nordic states in the Arctic is entirely understandable.
Sweden and Finland will offer the Alliance their territory and territorial waters and their superior military capabilities, technology, and industry. For instance, Finland is the largest manufacturer of icebreakers. Most of the icebreakers now available to NATO countries are stationed in Canada. In contrast, Russia has approximately 40 icebreakers, while China has only received its second icebreaker, which was constructed domestically.
As Arctic ice melts, political conflicts between Arctic nations and other stakeholders will escalate. Moreover, as is always the case, whoever has the strongest military capability in a region will assume authority.
It is now evident why non-Arctic nations such as the United Kingdom and Germany are investing in “Arctic” BvS10 vehicles. BvS10s, on the other hand, are armoured vehicles built for operations in difficult terrain conditions such as snow, mud, flooded / waterlogged places, sand, and mountainous regions. The British marines also employ the BvS10 during amphibious operations and deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.
However, a news release from BAE Systems relates the combined purchase by the three nations to “Arctic missions.”
Under the CATV programme, Sweden will receive 236 vehicles, Germany will receive 140, and the United Kingdom will receive 60. The overall cost of the deal will approach 760 million euros. Deliveries will take place between 2024 and 2029. There is an option for hundreds more automobiles.
BAE Systems Hagglunds construct the vehicles in Ornskoldsvik, Sweden.
The acquisition of the CATV programme follows Sweden’s recent orders for 167 (127+40) additional BvS10 transporters with delivery dates between 2022 and 2024. The Swedish ground forces operate a total of 1,000 Bv 206 transporters, 96 Bv309 transporters, and roughly 153 Bv 410 transporters ( Swedish Army designation for BvS10).
BvS10 is based on the original Bv206 design. From the end of the 1970s to the present day, 11,000 Bv206 family cars (and subsequent variations) have been manufactured for more than 40 nations worldwide.
The BvS10 consists of two distinct armoured cabs, each with wide, low-gauge rubber tracks. Both tracks are propelled by the articulated drive shaft (the engine is in the front vehicle). Using a hydraulic mechanism, the direction of motion is altered by turning individual cars relative to one another.
The front car weighs 5,000 kilos, while the rear vehicle weighs 3,500 kg. In its variant as an armoured personnel carrier, the BvS10 can carry up to 5,500 kilos of goods or 12 people (4 + 8). In the logistics version, the BvS10 can transport up to 7,000 kilos of freight. The maximum load of the complete system is 15,500 kg. The top speed is 70 km/h, and the range is roughly 350 kilometres (optionally 500 kilometres). The vehicle is amphibious; it moves across the water using tracks.
Initially designed as an armoured vehicle for the British Marine Corps, the BvS10 was subsequently used by the United States Marine Corps. Since manufacture began in 2005, the British Marine Corps and Army have received 152 (home name Viking) vehicles, while the Dutch Marine Corps has gotten 73, France 53, and Austria 32.
The US Army ordered 110 Beowulf all-terrain vehicles (unarmored variant BvS10) from BAE Systems under the CATV (Cold Weather All-Terrain Vehicle) programme in August 2022, with an option for an additional 53. Beowulf will be distributed to US Army Arctic battalions between 2023 and 2029.
In most countries listed above, the BvS10 will replace the ageing and outmoded Bv206.