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Latvian CVR-T Fleet on ALLIED SPIRIT 22

The FV107 Scimitar CVR(T) armoured reconnaissance vehicle is employed by the 2. Mehanizētais Kājnieku Bataljons for fire support purposes and reconnaissance tasks [© Carl Schulze]

Latvia deployed a fleet of former British CVR-T or Combat Vehicle Reconnaissance (Tracked) armour on ALLIED SPIRIT 22 in Germany, reports Carl Schulze.


Exercise ALLIED SPIRIT 22, conducted at the Hohenfels Training Area in Germany, in late January 2022, saw Latvia’s Sauszemes Spēku Mehanizētā Kājnieku Brigāde, a mechanised infantry brigade, being the major training audience. The brigade is the only major regular combat formation of the Nacionālie Bruņotie Spēki (NBS) Latvian Armed Forces. The two mechanised infantry battalions, of the brigade field ex-British vehicles of the Combat Vehicle Reconnaissance (Tracked) family. One of the two, 2. Mehanizētais Kājnieku Bataljons, saw action during the exercise held in southern Germany.

Armed with a 30mm L21A1 RARDEN automatic cannon and a 7.62mm L37A1 GPMG machine gun, the FV107 Scimitar CVR(T) armoured reconnaissance vehicle has a crew of three, consisting of the vehicle commander, gunner and driver [© Carl Schulze]

In 2014 Latvia procured 123 vehicles of the CVR(T) family, worth £39.4 million, from the United Kingdom. The Latvian government approved the deal in August 2014 and it was signed by the defence ministers of both countries on 4th September of that year. These vehicles became available following the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review and due to the fact that the British Army was planning to replace its CVR(T) fleet with variants of the fully digitised Ajax multi-role armoured fighting vehicle family.

The Latvian CVR(T) fleet features the Life Extension Programme upgrades and therefore is powered by a 5.9 litre Cummins 6 BTA turbocharged diesel engine [© Carl Schulze]

Prior to being delivered, the vehicles were refurbished and given some upgrades by BAE Systems Land Systems; since 2019 this company has formed part of the German-British joint venture Rheinmetall BAE Systems Land (RBSL). On 4th September 2015 the Latvian Ministry of Defence announced that the first four vehicles had been delivered and that they would be employed for training and familiarisation purposes. Since then the remaining vehicles were delivered in several batches between 2016 and early 2020. In Latvia depot level maintenance support for the vehicles is carried out by Zemgales Remonta Centrs (ZRC) Truck & Trailer Service in Jelgava. This company was selected for the task by BAE Systems Land Systems in 2018.

The FV106 Samson CVR(T) is the armoured recovery vehicle of the family ~ here a Samson can be seen recovering a FV103 Spartan armoured personnel carrier [© Carl Schulze]
The FV106 Samson features a 3.5 ton capstan winch and carries sufficient equipment for a 4:1 winch pull ~ it is also fitted with a manually deployed spade-type earth anchor and a lifting jib/drawbar assembly
[© Carl Schulze]

Latvian CVR(T) Fleet: Latvia procured the following variants of the CVR(T) family: FV103 Spartan armoured personnel carrier; FV104 Samaritan armoured ambulances; FV105 Sultan command post vehicle; FV106 Samson armoured recovery vehicle; and FV107 Scimitar armoured reconnaissance vehicle. All of these variants were fielded by 2. Mehanizētais Kājnieku Bataljons during Exercise ALLIED SPIRIT 22.

The FV104 Samaritan CVR(T) is the armoured ambulance of the vehicle family and can transport up to four patients on stretchers or a combination of stretcher and seated patients ~ this Samaritan features MBP and BP upgrades [© Carl Schulze]
The FV104 Samaritan ambulance has a crew of three consisting of the vehicle commander, driver and medic ~ note the screens rolled down for camouflage purposes to cover the Red Cross symbols [© Carl Schulze]

Those vehicles delivered to Latvia belong to the 1,017 that were modernised from 1999 onwards under the British Army Life Extension Programme (LEP). Back then the work was carried out jointly by Alvis Vehicles Limited and the Army Base Repair Organisation (ABRO). The LEP mainly saw the vehicles being fitted with a new 5.9 litre Cummins 6 BTA turbocharged diesel engine that develops 195hp. This engine replaced the old Jaguar XK 4.2 litre J60 No. 1 Mk 100B petrol engine, that was fitted in the CVR(T) fleet since they first entered operational service in 1972, and allowed for more fuel efficiency as well as boosting the road range of the vehicle.

The FV103 Spartan is the armoured personnel carrier variant employed to transport infantry sections and anti-tank teams while also performing many other tasks [© Carl Schulze]
This FV103 Spartan APC features the Vision Cupola AV No. 16 Mk 1 for the vehicle commander, which can be fitted with a 7.62mm L37A1 GPMG [© Carl Schulze]

Some of the Latvian CVR(T) vehicles also feature the Mine Blast Protection (MBP) and Ballistic Protection (BP) upgrades that were first introduced by the British Army at the beginning of Operation TELIC in 2003. The Ballistic Protection consists of, in addition to other features, an add-on armour package composed of plates of composite armour including layers of Kevlar and Ceramic. In the case of the FV107 Scimitar armoured reconnaissance vehicles, these are of the type that had their night fighting capabilities upgraded by the implementation of the Battle Group Thermal Imaging (BGTI) programme of the British Army.

Modifications: A special Latvian modification is the installation of a new machine gun mount at the front of the Vision Cupola AV No. 16 Mk 1 of the vehicle commander on some of the FV103 Spartans. This allows for the installation of a 12.7x99mm M2 series heavy machine gun. Interestingly, the original machine gun mount of the cupola for a 7.62x51mm L37A1 GPMG machine gun has also been retained.

The FV105 Sultan is the command post vehicle variant ~ its hull features a raised roof allowing for the installation of command post equipment such as comprehensive radio sets, map boards and computer work stations [© Carl Schulze]
The FV105 Sultan command post vehicle is used at company and battalion level by 2. Mehanizētais Kājnieku Bataljons [© Carl Schulze]

In regard to the communications equipment, the vehicles are fitted with tactical multi-mission radios of the Falcon family manufactured by L3Harris Technologies Inc. Antennae employed with the radios are of the RF-3183-AT multiband vehicular antenna series from the same manufacturer, and RF-3184-AT320 omni-directional centre-fed dipole antennae.

[images Carl Schulze]

Library image from 2017 of a Latvian CVR(T) unit on their first multinational exercise in 2017 [© Bob Morrison]
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