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A closer look at James’s Foxhound
Sunday’s show - click here if you missed it - saw Captain Slow on a special mission to Afghanistan, investigating Britain’s military vehicles and how they’ve changed in recent years.
And, it turns out, they’ve changed quite a lot.
When UK troops first hit the sand thirteen years ago, they patrolled parts of Afghanistan in Snatch Land Rovers. But to combat the ever-increasing threat of IEDs (improvised explosive devices), the Landies had to be replaced.
Their successor? This big, angry-looking thing sat in our studio above: the Foxhound.
This sand-coloured beast is a fit-for-purpose personnel carrier, designed in Britain with the help of engineers who used to work in F1 and the WRC. And compared to the armour-clad 110, the Foxhound is a massive leap forward in technology and protection.
The unique, heavily armoured V-shaped cabin protects the driveline, fuel tank and generator - and of course the troops themselves - against roadside bombs and IEDs. Why the V-shape? That hull dissipates energy from a blast more effectively than a flat one, maximising the chances of survival if a Foxhound is targeted.
Powered by a 3.2 litre six-cylinder, four-stroke diesel engine that can be removed and replaced in just 30 minutes, you may be surprised to hear the Foxhound only has 215bhp and 368lb ft of torque.
But for something that offers this level of protection, Foxhound is light, making it a veritable Ariel Atom in the bombproof vehicle community. The weight saving is largely down to the Foxhound’s unique armour, which was jointly developed by dstl (the MOD’s scientific boffins) and industry, using leading edge processes and materials more commonly seen in something like the McLaren P1.
Leading-edge technology is not the only thing that the Foxhound shares with the hybrid hypercar. They’re about the same price, too. And the Foxhound is rather better equipped than the ultra-sparse McLaren, packing in the latest comms, night vision and surveillance technology as standard. Extras include roof-mounted machine guns, which quite frankly should be optional on every new car.
The Foxhound also has a party trick: modular design. See that main pod where soldiers sit? That can be swapped out quickly if it gets damaged. Or, if you get picky in the options list, you can buy different pods to transform it into an ambulance, supply truck or lightweight track racer. OK, we made the last one up.
The wheels are pretty neat, too. Each one is independently powered, so even if one is blown off by one of those pesky IEDs, the Foxhound can scramble from danger and return back to base on three wheels.
So, if you’ve got a spare £900,000 and you want something cutting edge and British, would it be this, or that slightly-quicker-but-rather-less-bombproof McLaren P1?