Armoured vehicles designed to protect British troops from roadside bombs keep breaking down, the BBC understands. Foxhounds – first deployed in 2012 – were designed to safeguard soldiers in a blast and operate in hot conditions.An Army sergeant in Iraq, responsible for maintaining a fleet of seven Foxhounds, told the BBC the vehicle was “a massive waste of money”.The Ministry of Defence said Foxhound had dealt with “demanding conditions in Iraq” and was “keeping soldiers safe”.The vehicle replaced the “snatch” Land Rover, which was dubbed the “mobile coffin” after 37 troops died while travelling in the vehicles.’Cooks out’It was designed specifically to operate in the hot and dusty climate of Helmand in Afghanistan, with each vehicle costing nearly £1m.Foxhounds are used in Afghanistan and Iraq to transport soldiers who are training local forces and providing force protection. Designed by F1 engineers, used by the armyBut troops say there are serious problems with their reliability.The Army sergeant, who did not want to be named, said the vehicles keep overheating. “They break down all the time. They cannot handle the heat, they have a massive problem with it. “At 50 degrees the engine cooks out.” He said he was having to strip the vehicles down every five or six weeks to keep them running. Normally, this would only be done twice a year. Army base ‘workshop’The soldier said he had had to alter the bonnets to try to increase the air supply to cool down the engines.Tools were not provided to deal with this so he bought his own specialist equipment, he said.But an Army source later disputed that claim.
The Ministry of Defence bought 400 Foxhounds – costing £370m – after it was criticised for taking too long to provide troops in Iraq and Afghanistan with proper protection.The vehicle first entered service in 2012. Until then, troops in the war zones were often patrolling in the lightly armoured “snatch” Land Rover – originally designed for the streets of Northern Ireland. ‘Surplus kit’In 2016, the Chilcot Inquiry into the Iraq War said the MoD had been too slow to respond to the threat of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and in replacing the vehicle.Last month Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon apologised for the failures and to grieving families.The MoD said British troops were getting the very best protection when the “snatch” Land Rover was replaced with the Foxhound.
But defence sources did not dispute there had been reliability issues.The Foxhound was among a long list of military equipment put into service for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan under “Urgent Operational Requirement (UOR)” rules to meet the needs of soldiers in battle. Some of that kit has now ended up surplus to requirements. In April 2009, the MoD bought 75 Springer All Terrain Vehicles at a cost of more than £7m. They are now being sold for less than £10,000 each.The MoD is also selling off its fleet of 85 Warthog armoured vehicles first purchased in 2010 for £150m.The MoD says the UOR programme has “saved countless soldiers’ lives” in Iraq and Afghanistan and that there are no plans to sell the Foxhound.A spokesman added: “Decisions on which equipment to continue to support and which to sell are made with current operational requirements in mind.”