It's the realization of every 7-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 armored combat engineer vehicle built for the British Army's Royal Engineer corps by BAE Systems as a faster, better-armored 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 Armored 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 30-ton Terrier measures 6 meters long, 2.5 meters wide, and 2 meters tall, easily able to fit in the belly of a C-17 Globemaster III or Airbus A400M. The vehicle's 700 HP Caterpillar C18 diesel engine allows for a 70 km/h top speed and 600 km range. It can climb 60 degree hills and lift 5,000kg loads without breaking a sweat as well as hurdle 2 meter-wide trenches and ford a meter of water. Primarily equipped with a front-mounted clamshell bucket and 3-ton, 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 7.62-mm 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 £360m procurement contract. We can't wait to see them in action.