Covert mobility has been a key to successful missions by special operations forces since before the term was first used. It was the British Special Air Service (SAS) that first began to use specially modified vehicles like the Jeep and Land Rover in World War II, a trend that has continued to the present day. And one of the most unique such vehicles today is the Jaguar Rover Australia 6×6 Long Range Patrol Vehicle (LRPV). The LRPV has been the ground-transportation mainstay of the Australian SAS Regiment in both Iraq and Afghanistan during the past decade, and is widely respected by other SOF units across the globe. Field-tested in the Australian Outback under brutally harsh conditions similar to those encountered in the Middle East, the LRPV was designed especially for long-distance patrols and reconnaissance operations.
Design work on what would become the LRPV began in 1987. Essentially, the old Land Rover Series 2A (with a 2.25-liter gasoline engine ) was used as a template for development of the LRPV, with the inclusion of ideas from the classic British SAS “Pink Panther” Land Rovers providing unique modifications. An almost total redesign of the base Land Rover 110 was needed if the LRPV were to meet the needs of the SASR, and in particular the chassis and suspension required a more complex configuration than the older Land Rovers had. The designers went to work, and the first generation of LRPVs went operational in 1989.
The power plant used in the LRPV is a turbocharged four-cylinder, 3.9-liter Isuzu 4BD1diesel engine, which delivers a top speed of 59 miles per hour. Feeding an engine of this size requires oversized fuel tanks to hold 365 liters (80.3 gallons) of diesel, enabling the LRPV to travel 1,600 km (994 miles) without refueling. Auxiliary “Jerry” cans of fuel can be mounted on either side, usually near the tailgate.
A 119-inch wheelbase was required to handle the 6×6 capabilities of the LRPV. As with all the Land Rover 110 variants, the LRPV featured constant four-wheel drive. However, the LRPV was equipped with a vacuum-operated inter-axle differential lock that fitted into the standard LT95A transmission. When activated by the driver, the vehicle is transformed into a six-wheel drive behemoth. Because of the sheer size and weight of the LRPV, it is fitted with a 4.7:1 differential, rather than the standard 3.54:1 used in the 4×4 version.
Transporting equipment, sufficient fuel, team members, and armament creates quite a load on the LRPV. The crew compartment features threeseats and two doors, and to handle the extra weight, the LRPV is designed with coil springs in the front. The leaf springs in the rear are designed with a load-sharing rocker on either side for better weight distribution. While a base Land Rover 110 has a rated capacity of three quarters of a ton, the much beefier LRPV is rated at two tons.
Safe and efficient weight distribution has continued to be a concern throughout the various models of the LRPV. Early configurations saw the spare tires mounted on the brushbars in front and on either side of the Thomas winch in the rear. Perforated Steel Plates (PSP) for ballistic protection are affixed in the later versions to the brushguards in front, while the spare tires were remounted on the sides. Normal armament for the LRPV are a pair of FN 5.56mm Minimi and a Mag 58 7.62mm machine guns. Additionally, there are rear stowage lockers on either side of the rear bed of the vehicle. Anticipating occasions when a motorcycle might be needed to traverse a more rugged piece of territory, mounting brackets for a Suzuki 250 cc trail bike are also provided on the rear bumper.
The old 2A Series patrol vehicles of the 1970s taught the Australian SAS some important lessons regarding rollover hazards to vehicle occupants. In the LRPV, the now-standard Roll Over Protection Steel (ROPS) frame functions as support for the canvas soft-top variant. In addition, given the attention to ruggedization, the LRPV is equipped to handle being tied down on a ship’s deck, dropped from an aircraft, and being recovered by an RAAF Hercules transport. The first generation of the JRA 6×6 Long Range LRPV is now long retired, and the last generation is due to soon be phased out. Out of an original production run of 600, 27 LRPVs are still in operation, mostly operating in Afghanistan.
Engine: Isuzu 4BD1, Turbocharged, 3.9-Liter Diesel, 4-Cylinder
Transmission: LT95A , Modified
Differential: 4.7:1 Vacuum-Assisted, Inter-Axle
Armament: Typically 2 MINIMI, 1 FN Mag 58 7.62mm machine gun
Crew: Typically 3
Capacity: 2 Tons (1.8 Metric Tons)
Length: 119 in. (302 cm)
Top speed: 59 mph (95 kph)
Fuel capacity: 80.3 gal. (365 liters)